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Problem Solving

The foundation for success in advanced mathematics is built on problem solving skills. Problem solving requires strong skills in reasoning, analysis, and argument construction, and the ability to apply innovative strategies to find a solution. While these skills should be taught at all levels, it's especially important to help students develop them as progress toward the more complex math concepts they will learn in high school.

To help students become skilled problem solvers in grades 4 through 8, teachers can prepare problems to use in whole-class instruction; provide explicit problem-solving instruction that teaches students to use visual representations, employ multiple strategies, and links mathematical concepts and notation to problems; and allow time to reflect and debrief on their strategies and solutions with classmates.

To learn more about the research underlying these practices, view the IES Practice Guide, Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 Through 8.