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joycetheriot's picture

Facilitating Problem Solving

In today’s math-aligned workshop, Paul G. commented that many of us were frustrated because we were forced to think along these very narrow avenues of process and then expected to connect some of the small parts to a different set of values and make meaning. Many in the workshop experienced anxiety or irritation because the usefulness of that next course of action was not apparent.

As I notice an increasing math disconnect in my science classes, I am very interested in this line of inquiry. I can recognize that assembling the finished small parts into a new process with yet new featured problems that need a more detailed representation is quite complex and I want to help my students develop the skills that they could use to find meaning in each succeeding part.

A model to represent this narrow to large problem-solving approach might be similar to solving a large jigsaw puzzle that has no “finished” picture on the box cover. We work on clumps searching for related parts and then finding connections to other clumps that finally lead to a connection of every piece. However I suspect that this is too linear to represent the complexity of this issue.

I’m trying to relate this to Sudoku and thinking that instead of running helter-skelter around the entire puzzles looking for connections, that we instead have better results if we look within single boxes and solve the connections to related rows.




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