George Polya Problem Solving Strategies

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Under this problem solving approach you are expecting students to understand the problem before making any drawings, diagrams, tables, patterns, etc., which can leave many students fumbling to make sense of it all. While students are employing the RDW process they are using several Standards for Mathematical Practice and in some cases, all of them.

This is where the “Read, Draw, Write” (RDW) approach comes in to play. Some of these would include: make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, model with mathematics, use appropriate tools strategically and look for and make use of structure. How has it changed the way students solve word problems in your classroom?

By ‘real’, Polya did not necessarily mean ‘from the real world’ (although they well may be), but rather questions relating to a subject and which are ‘non-routine’ or new to the student [1].

Later in this series on problem solving, we will look at several different types of mathematical problem solving that students might be asked to work on either in the classroom or in real world, contextual situations.

She taught seventh and eighth grade math for 10 years and currently teaches college-level math.

PROBLEM SOLVING STRATEGIES Download: Teaching Problem Solving Strategies A 16-page document that has an explanation of George Polya's 4-step method.

These are, in order: There are overlaps in each of the above type of problem solving task, however, later in the series we will discuss the general features of each of these in turn.

We’ll also provide examples and suggestions for writing or developing each across several broad grade levels, and provide some tips for helping students tackle each type of problem as well.

At a purely pragmatic level, the answer to this question might be ‘because it’s part of the curriculum’.

It is a reality that the Australian Curriculum in Mathematics, and consequently, the state developed syllabi that flow from this, enshrine ‘problem-solving’ as a key mathematical proficiency [2] to be taught across all strands and content areas.


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