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Introduction to Problem Solving

My districts math focus this year is on problem solving.  Students who struggle with math typically REALLY struggle with problem solving.  I have just spent the first 3 weeks of my AIS math groups introducing problem solving.

To make it a little more fun, I created a problem solving bulletin board for my students to use.

Each work mat is a step in the problem solving process. 
I write word problems on sentence strips and students can use dry erase markers to solve the problem right on the laminated work mats.  Together, we solve a bunch of simple word problems on the bulletin board (1 problem a day for a week or 2) before I give them the graphic organizer.
I only change the numbers in the word problem for the students first time using the graphic organizer.  For example, the day before I introduce the organizer, I might give the students the following problem to solve on the bulletin board: 

There are 35 birds in a tree.  There are 7 birds on a roof.  How many birds are there altogether?

The next day, I would show the students the organizer and let them try it out using this problem (I just cover the old numbers with post it notes): 

There are 19 birds in a tree.  There are 12 birds on a roof.  How many birds are there altogether?

All of the work from the first problem is on the bulletin board.  Students only have to change the numbers in the addition problem.  This allows the kids to focus on using the problem solving organizer, rather than focusing on solving a problem AND the organizer.  Once students have internalized the problem solving process, they do not use the organizer for every problem because it is time consuming.  

I made 3 more sets of problem solving bulletin board work mats.  I am using the polka dot one at building #2.

There is something so cheerful about polka dots!  I have uploaded the polka dot mats as well as a striped and chevron striped sets to my Teachers Notebook store.  Don't forget to download the free graphic organizer while you're there! 
1 comment on "Introduction to Problem Solving"
  1. I love this idea! What does the first page say? "Understand"...?


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