Problem Solving

There are many different ways to attack a math problem. One way is to draw a picture. Especially when a concept is new, students who are visual and/or kinesthetic (hands on) learners might SEE the problem more clearly by having the problem drawn out for them, or by drawing it themselves. I don't mean break out the stick-men and stick-women (although, sometimes that can help, too). By using letters, circles, dots, Xs, or whatever is easiest for you, it can make a difficult problem seem much less daunting. For example: "Ron, Jake, Sara and Mikal are meeting at the library. If each student shakes hands with each other student only once, how many handshakes will there be?" Direct your student to write the letters "R", "J", "S" & "M" in a circle, then draw lines between each letter once, making sure to connect each person with the other 3. Now count the lines! It's just one more way your learner can attack a word problem that may otherwise seem too difficult. Be careful! Younger students, or students who are a little more particular might get caught up on making their drawing look "pretty." Show them it's OK to have less-than perfect circles, or uneven boxes...unless of course, you are solving a problem that requires the drawing to be a bit more precise. Just like anything, practice the skill, and it will come easier in time.

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Elizabeth G.

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