Math PK-2

Direct Instruction: Problem Structures


Teaching students to recognize common problem structures helps them transfer solution methods from familiar to unfamiliar problems. When students learn the structures of problems, they have greater success in problem solving and develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. However, research shows that students develop deeper conceptual understanding and Mathematical Flexibility when they engage in problem-solving and productive failure before direct instruction.

Use It in the Classroom

  • Teachers can teach the structures of different problem types by using a variety of examples. They can also model categorizing problems based on the structure and determining the appropriate strategies to solving these problems.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Learn how Math Shake provides general problem structures to support student problem solving. By providing the overall outline of an equation, students practice and develop their abilities to convert word problems into mathematical equations.

  • Digital products can use visual cues, such as colors, annotations, and images, to identify key words or numbers and to highlight the underlying structures of problems. Learners can then practice coding example problems with the same visual tools and drag similar problems into like groups to practice categorizing.