So this is my first time ever contributing to MS Math Sunday Funday - I hope some of you might find what I write useful. The topic this week how we increase or practice the problem solving skills of our students. Our textbook uses the 5D process to help with problem solving skills for large problems. Many of you might know this as a Guess and Check table. It allows students to Draw/Describe what is going on, Define the terms, Do what is being asked, Decide if it is the correct and answer and lastly Declare the final answer. I encourage students to "squeeze" the answer out of their guesses instead of guessing lots of random numbers. This process can help students out with any complex problem.
My main way of increasing problem solving skills is thinking outside of the box a little. Students absolutely love brain teasers and puzzles. I have a slew of these in my classroom that really make students think outside of the box to get the answer. One of my favorite sites to get mathematical puzzles and logic puzzle books is MathWare. One of my favorite puzzles is called Code Breakers. Students are given different colored circles that equal a certain number. They have to figure out what each of the colored circles is. Think systems of equations with colored circles. The students get very competitive with these puzzles and always ask for them. When completing them, they aren't thinking...boy I'm really solving Math problems - they think of it more as a game.