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# PROBLEM SOLVING TEACHERS GUIDE

Objectives
Recognising the need to have an orderly and systematic plan in problem solving.

Convincing students that any problem can be easily solved by following the right steps.

Lesson Duration
60 120 minutes

New Terms
Mathematical Operations, Mathematical Procedures, Reflection

Emphasis
Problem Solving in Mathematics is based on a method introduced by George Polya,
that is:

## Firstly: Interpreting and understanding the problem

Secondly: Planning a solution-finding strategy
Thirdly: Executing the strategy
Fourthly: Checking / reflecting on the solution

At the secondary school level, students may have limited abilities in figuring out problem-
solving procedures whether in Mathematics or Science. In solving problems, students
need to understand the essential steps to be taken and decisions to be made. Thus,
exposure to a systematic approach to problem-solving procedures is essential for the
students to be well-prepared for TIMSS and PISA.

This module was also prepared with the purpose of building a deeper understanding of
problem solving among students and to make them better at critical and analytical
thinking.

In question and answer sessions, teachers should give ample time for students to think
before engaging them in discussion or asking for their opinions.

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PROBLEM SOLVING TEACHERS GUIDE

## Ask students to give examples of problems in their daily lives.

Then, ask each student what they understand by the word problem.

## Next, explain the definition of a problem from a Mathematical aspect to the

students.

The slide display requires teachers to ask students what they understand by the
phrase problem solving. Guide them by asking questions that ultimately lead them
towards the definition that is given in the slides that follow.

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PROBLEM SOLVING TEACHERS GUIDE

## Emphasise to students on the usage of knowledge, skills and understanding in

finding a solution to a problem

Then, ask them why problem solving is needed when learning Mathematics. Click on

## Explain to the students that, according to Van de Walle, the learning of

Mathematical concepts becomes easier using the problem solving method because it
encourages students to think and recognise the importance of Mathematics in daily
life.

After that, ask students to list down the characteristics of a good problem solver.

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PROBLEM SOLVING TEACHERS GUIDE

## Teachers are encouraged to conduct brainstorming sessions to obtain the

characteristics of a good problem solver as displayed on the slide

Students will also need to state the required steps in problem solving.

## Next, introduce students to problem solving expert George Polya.

Polya introduced the four steps in solving Mathematical problems.

Discuss the problem solving steps and the importance of each step by asking for the
students opinions on this.

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PROBLEM SOLVING TEACHERS GUIDE

## An example is given for group discussion.

Review the steps the students need to take in problem solving. Ensure that they can
state each step.

Ask the students to explain the way they interpret and understand problems. One
way is by noting or underlining important information. Ask students to state the
main points in the problem given.

Next, ask students to state the second step. Explain the strategies listed in the slide.
Ask the students opinions on the best strategy to answer a question like this. Get
the students to explain their answers followed by justification on choosing to draw a
table as a problem solving strategy.

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PROBLEM SOLVING TEACHERS GUIDE

## Ask students to draw up and complete a table on the blackboard followed by an

explanation on their solution

Ask them to explain the importance of the fourth step, for example by asking what
would happen if this step was ignored.

The teacher shall summarise that any Mathematical problem, done through
systematic planning, can be easily solved.

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