Blog Post Two:

Asking Effective
Questions and Problem Solving

In my experience
teaching Grade 7/8 homeroom math this year, it was a constant challenge to have
my students become effective problem solvers. I found the reasoning for this to
be two fold. Many of my students lacked the decoding strategies that were necessary
to deconstruct multi-step and comprehensive mathematical problems. In spite of
obvious connections made to a specific skill or unit, and an considerable
knowledge and understanding of mathematical processes, many students did not
know how to determine what they were looking for and accordingly had to be
walked through the process of determining what information was important to
parse out from the task.

I was deeply
committed to helping my students build these skills because I could empathaize
with the frustration and confusion they were feeling when they were trying to
solve a nuanced mathematical problem. Growth mindset is something that is
extremely important to me and my relationship with math was far from ideal
throughout high school. Only later in my involvement in education did I realize
how FUN math can be.

Rich tasks allow
students to ask rich questions and use an inquiry based model to develop
mathematical strategies. One of the best tools that I have found to help
students learn to approach problems with confidence is one that is question
focused rather than problem focused. When students have the opportunity to
develop their line of mathematical inquiry and through guided teaching,
determine the type of questions that
should be asked, they are not only more engaged with the material, but are more
aware of the process that they need to determine the most accurate answer. Three Act Math actively encourages students
to become conversant with mathematical questioning. It uses positive reinforcement to help the
students learn the types of questions that should be asked, how to communicate
their mathematical thinking and how to achieve the desirable end result. This
type of instruction brings real world problems to the forefront of math
learning and encourages students to approach new tasks with a positive attitude
and a questioning mind.

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