How do you go about teaching problem solving skills? How do you teach pupils the thinking skills necessary to solve mathematical problems in contexts that are unfamiliar to them?

These are difficult questions. I’ll declare upfront that I don’t have the answers to them fully. Nonetheless I have been researching and formulating possible approaches. This post shares with you where I am at with my current thinking and I hope will spark an interesting debate in the comments section where our readers can extend the ideas further.

Instead of standing at the front of the room and teaching my kids how to do math---step by boring step—I pose a problem. The kids work together and use their own strategies to solve that problem. It allows students to make sense of math and to build upon what they already know.

(1) Mathematical process standards. The student uses mathematical processes to acquire and demonstrate mathematical understanding. The student is expected to: