Thursday 12th March 2020
I love the definition of problem solving given by Guy Claxton, ‘knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do’. It says it all.
This professional development event was held at Didcot Girls’ School in January, and was focused on strategies to support students in finding methods and solutions when faced with a problem that needed solving. We were introduced to Polya’s strategies, and discussed which of the strategies would need extra work with our own students.
Impossible problems are good because, through realising that there isn’t an answer to every problem, students get to understand that it is the process rather than the solution which is important. The resilience and confidence built up by facing problems and comparing ways of tackling them, realising that often there is no best way but lots of different ways, will be strengthened. It is essential to model students’ mathematical thinking. This can be done by introducing your class to a problem which you have never seen before, and showing how you would tackle it.
There are some really good problems in this FMSP booklet. Below is just one of the 20 problems that you will find in the booklet.