Very often when I work with a group of teachers, I hear the question, “How much time do you spend doing Problem Solving?” I have two different answers for this question. I will share both answers below.
For the first response, I remind teachers that problem solving is one of the process standards clearly discussed in the Principles and Standards of School Mathematics (PSSM), NCTM 2000. As is stated in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence (NCTM, 2006),
“Organizing a curriculum around these described focal points, with a clear emphasis on the processes that Principles and Standards addresses in the Process Standards—communication, reasoning, representation, connections, and, particularly, problem solving—can provide students with a connected, coherent, ever expanding body of mathematical knowledge and ways of thinking. Such a comprehensive mathematics experience can prepare students for whatever career or professional path they may choose as well as equip them to solve many problems that they will face in the future.”
Therefore, the answer to the question would be, “I would ‘do’ problem solving as often as I possibly can.” For example, whenever I introduce a new concept, I create a problem solving task as part of the introductory Warm Up. Asking students to reflect on their understandings, communicate their thinking, utilize a variety of strategies and so on are the foundations of a problem-based curriculum and are all part of my instructional standard operating procedures.
However, I believe what the questioner really intended to ask was, ” How do you structure your daily and weekly math times? (more…)