From Chapter One of “Mathematics for Elementary Teachers” written by Gary Musser, William Burger and Blake Peterson state Polya’s four-step process. In sequential order, the steps are (1) Understand the Problem, 2) Devise a Plan, (3) Carry Out the Plan and (4) Look Back. In class, we learnt that problem solving provides many different strategies that are helpful when faced with different questions in the classroom. Problem solving techniques fit into Step 2 of Poyla’s process. Although there are many options, the main problem solving strategies are (1) Guess and Test, (2) Drawing A Picture, (3) Use a Variable, (4) Look for Pattern, (5) Make a List, (6) Solve Simpler Problem, and (7) Draw a Diagram. Not every student learns the same. When students are faced with a challenge, each person will approach it in different ways and they will most likely choose the strategy that they will learn from best. I prefer visuals, which implies that I am more likely to choose “Draw a Picture” or “Draw a Diagram because when I can see what is occurring it makes it easier to understand.
In class we also covered what a student does when they are problem solving and how do you know that they are problem solving. This topic sparked my interest, because I never really looked closely into the signs a student would give if they were problem solving. If you viewed problem solving as a word problem, it would be simple to know if they have comprehended it by viewing a students’ work. Using problem solving as a method means that I have to recognize the signs that a student is using problem solving and comprehending the material that is given to them. One sign that I think proves that students are learning from the problem solving method is if they communicating mathematically. Communicating mathematically means they are justifying steps that they are going through, and using/understanding mathematical language.
I explored certain levels of math in the Saskatchewan Curriculum. Being the first time that I have thoroughly looked at the curriculum, I believe it is well organized and provides all the necessary information for a teacher to comprehend it easily. When solving word problems in class, we were then asked, “where would this fit into the curriculum?” I never would have thought to pick your problems, then choose an outcome that it relates to. I would have done it opposite by first picking my outcome, then finding a problem that related to that outcome. Either way, I can see there being benefits and disadvantages in choosing either process.