That seems to be my biggest area of concern/what I wish I could focus all day. Technically we do throw it in there in all subjects but I feel like I've had so many epiphanies lately when it comes to how to teach problem solving.
In the past 2 weeks I've gone to 2 Professional Developments and my favorite part of them has to be hearing what other teachers do in their classrooms. Get this... Today a fellow 2nd grade teacher in my district, on their second week of fractions, gave her students this problem:
"Sarah has 348 gel pens. She gives 3/4 of them away. How many pens does she give away?"
In my mind I'm thinking there is NO WAY my sweet little babies could figure this out and we are on our third week of fractions. But then again, isn't this the level of questions we SHOULD be asking of our students? All we keep hearing is Rigor Rigor RIGOR. Well, it's just like it was back in the day when we changed from TAAS to TAKS. People would say it's "too hard" and "we're asking too much of these students". Now look at us. If only the TAKS was still around. It's the STAAR we dread. It's always going to be something new and I'm sure in a few years we will be wanting the STAAR back.
The rigor is always increasing and as an educator we are only doing our students a diservice if we don't give them the opportunity to succeed instead of doubting their capabilities and saying "that's way too hard". Sure it may be hard but confusion is a step in the right direction. It means they are trying. I don't know about you but the best tool that has helped me learn thus far is the mistakes I've made along the way.
I heard the same teacher relate problem solving to gaming. Our students will continue to play a level where they fail and fail, time and time again. They are determined to beat that level and after awhile they do. I can't wait to have my students make this connection and preserver until they can get a hang of certain strategies to use to make problem solving that much easier for them.
So speaking of problem solving.. I am going to compile all the of our Daily Problem Solving problems that we have done in Q1 and Q2 and get them ready for this weekends Super Sale for the Super Bowl! Check back WEDNESDAY for their debut!