Problem Solving in Guided Math Groups: Part 4

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: During the Guided Math Lesson, Math is a Language | Tags: , , |

Polya’s Problem Solving Method

This is part of a series of problem solving discussions. 

Polya states that Step 2 is to Devise a Plan.  I find this to be the most tricky part for students.  What kind of plan?  Where do I start?  How do I know what to use?  Well there is the usual list:

Guess and check

Solve a simpler problem

Make an organized list


Draw a picture or diagram

Act it out

Look for a pattern

Work backwards

Make a table

Use deduction

Use a variable

Change your point of view


We must practice out all these various types of problems with our students if we ever want them to get proficient in using these strategies.  Here are some websites  and articles that have great practice problems and examples:



 (Look at this interactive model making site (be sure to watch the tutorial it explains everything):

 Let’s Play Math (a great blog) has a great post about problem solving articles:


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One Response to “Problem Solving in Guided Math Groups: Part 4”

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Greetings Dr. Nicki,
These strategy plans are the exact posters which are highlighted each month throughout the school. The students are encouraged to use this whenever they solve a problem. They definitely provide a guide about where to start. I can’t tell you how valuable this series of posts have been, especially in the beginning of the year.

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