Teach students to use visual representations, employ multiple problem-solving strategies, and relate mathematical concepts and notation to problem solving.
To help students develop proficiency in mathematical problem solving, teachers need to guide them in translating quantitative information into symbolic equations—the arithmetic/algebraic statements that will provide a solution—and encourage the comparison and use of various problem-solving strategies. Students who have practice using multiple problem-solving strategies, sharing and comparing strategies with other students, have greater flexibility in solving math problems and understand that problems can be solved in more than one way depending on the method that makes the most sense to them. By explaining notation in the context of problem solving, prompting students to provide mathematically valid explanations, and introducing algebraic notation, teachers can help students develop new ways of reasoning. In addition, using appropriate visual representations (e.g., table, graph, and/or diagram) helps students solve problems by linking the quantitative relationships in the problem with mathematical operations.
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