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How can you learn problem solving skills

March 8, 2017

Practice with someone who solves problems well!

We are working on using analytic geometry to solve problems, and it can be tricky for some people to decide what tools to use to solve the problem.  Slopes, midpoints, distances are all straightforward calculations-the trick is to come up with an effective plan to solve the problem.

Here’s how the activity worked: One person per group of three begins as the expert.  The groups were designed so that at least one member is a very effective problem solver.  The expert’s job is to verbalize all of their thinking as they solve the problem.  They need to explain what they are thinking, what information they have, what they need, how they can find it.  They need to verbalize if they get stuck, and what they do to get back on track.

The other two people in the group are there to document the strategies employed by the expert.  We chunked the time so that for each time period, the observers had to write two strategies done by the expert.

Once the problem was solved, the next group member tackled the next problem while the others observed.  Everyone in the class was actively solving or paying close attention to someone else as they solved a problem for a good chunk of time.

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