Problem solving strategies must keep the focus on the "thinking" that is occurring.
We discuss below several that will be of value for problems on this web-site and in books on problem solving.
In this site we have linked the problem solving lessons to the following groupings of problem solving strategies.
Pictures and diagrams are problem solving strategies that many students learn at the earliest stages of math development.
This is a good strategy as it is a way to communicate mathematical thinking.
From there, students begin to apply that understanding to basic word problems and often begin using a Model Drawing approach.
A Model Drawing is simply a pictorial representation that helps students internalize and visualize math.To differentiate, begin to encourage students to label their drawings.Remember that drawings do not need to be perfect; they just need to clearly show their thinking.When we "coach" our students through different problem solving puzzles, we are allowing them to develop their mathematical thinking.The students take charge of their learning and construct personal ideas about mathematics. None of these are simple and rarely will students move through each step consecutively.Students note changes in stages and explain how the change in the table is occurring. You can use picture books to support teaching how to make a table. Here is an elementary problem solving worksheet to go with it: Magic Pot table (courtesy of Math Wire.com).Another classic picture book for math is One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale.It consists of a page per strategy with space provided to insert the name of any problem that you come across that uses that particular strategy (Act it out, Draw, Guess, Make a List).We have found that this kind of poster provides good revision for children. Through these links, children can see that mathematics is not only connected by skills but also by processes.As the site develops we may add some more but we have tried to keep things simple for now.Common Problem Solving Strategies We have provided a copymaster for these strategies so that you can make posters and display them in your classroom.