Problem Solving

“...difficulties are desirable because ‘they trigger encoding and retrieval processes that support learning, comprehension, and remembering.  If, however, the learner does not have the background knowledge or skills to respond to them successfully, they become undesirable difficulties.’”

-Peter Brown, Make it Stick


Classroom problem solving can take on many forms, including Problems of the Day.  Problem Solving Ladders, and students writing word problems for their classmates.  Regardless of the activity, I recommend that teachers devote 15-20% of each class period to problem solving.

I believe great Math instruction involves extracting mathematical understanding from students rather than explaining problems to them.  The latter takes on a lecture format.  The former shifts the discipline of mathematics from a noun to a verb.  To learn more about this Pedagogical approach, click on the  Challenging Word Problems link above.