**Article Summary:** "This multi-step problem solving
exercise involves several math concepts and you are actively engaged in
real world math. You will learn more from this problem solving exercise
than they every will from doing ten worksheets on the same math concepts.
The connection to hands-on, minds-on critical math problem skills are the
foundation of teaching and learning math."

Solving math problems is the core to understanding math concepts. This is why it is critical to develop math problem solving skills. The only way for you to be successful at this is through practice. This is not to be confused with worksheets; these are real world math problems that you can make a personal connection. Worksheets are viewed by most you and all other students as busy work and they are hated with a passion. For you to develop problem solving skills related to specific math concepts the problem must be something that you can visualize and make a personal connection. There are many ways to accomplish this, so let's take a look at a few strategies to help you succeed. There are several math problem websites that can be used to stimulate critical thinking skills. When you use technology you, like all other students immediately become more focused and open to the task. The following websites provide problems of the week and they also maintain archives for using former problems to help develop problem solving skills. Some even have problem solving contests that you can participate in - for example Math Problem of the week.
Another way to help is to begin each math class with a word problem related to the concept that was taught in the previous math class. The key with these math problems are that they can not be abstract - teachers think in abstract, you do not. The examples used in the problem must be something appropriate to the grade level and cultural environment of the school setting. Rural farming communities should use examples that a farm related. Suburban schools should use something related to the community and the students' lives. Urban schools need to use examples that are related to students' environment. This makes it more personal and meaningful to stimulate internalization of the math concept, along with how to problem solve. Another strategy is to have you develop your own problems; caution should be used to ensure that the word problems are appropriate and are concept focused. The teacher can then post the questions on the board for other students to answer. Every student should be given the chance to develop a problem. An additional problem solving exercise is to set up a hands-on situation where students are required to manipulate materials to solve the problem. For example, present a problem in which you have to determine how many marbles will fit inside a jar. In this situation you are provided with marbles so that you can measure the average volume of the marbles. Then determine the available volume in the jar. Next you should be provided with a smaller container to determine volume and how many marbles fit in the smaller container. From this you can extrapolate a reasonable estimate of the number of marbles that will fit in the jar.
This multi-step problem solving exercise involves several math concepts and you are actively engaged in real world math. You will learn more from this problem solving exercise than they every will from doing ten worksheets on the same math concepts. The connection to hands-on, minds-on critical math problem skills are the foundation of teaching and learning math. Without having visual and manipulative materials to solve this problem few students would be successful. Will having to solve a problem a day make the bad grades go away, the answer is a resounding yes. You will develop a better understanding of the math concepts through critical thinking. |