Consider turning the following problem-solving strategies into pictures, laminating them, and storing them in a box labelled “Problem-solving toolkit”. For upper primary students, write these onto a massive piece of butcher’s paper, leaving plenty of room to add extra strategies as they are developed by students. You can even consider naming these new strategies after the student who developed it! The list below is only meant to constitute a starting place of strategies, not a complete list.
- Draw a picture or diagram
- Make a list: organise the information
- Make a table or graph: organise the information in different categories
- Look for a pattern
- Have a guess and check if you are right
- Use logical reasoning to cancel out options that won’t work
- Work backwards through the problem
- Act it out: walk through the problem showing the actions as they happen
- Substitute the difficult numbers for easier ones
- Write an equation, and use a box for the missing information
- Identify the operations: is this addition, subtraction, multiplication or division?
- Whinging is not a problem-solving strategy!
Problem-Solving Toolkit by Kylie Devenish of Cooktown State School