Problem Solving

Tips and Strategies

Here are a few extra resources to help you as you work to help students make sense of problems and perservere in solving them. I hope you find them helpful. - Laura Baker

Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them

If students are not getting stuck, then they’re not solving challenging enough problems. But, good problem solvers have routines for finding new things to try and getting back onto good tracks.


Some facilitating questions:

▶ What is going on in this problem?

▶ What can you try?

▶ What does this remind you of?

▶ Why isn’t this working?

▶ What are you missing?

▶ Do you need more ideas?

▶ Do you need help?


Click here for more information on figuring out where students are stuck and encouraging them to explain what is hard or confusing to them.

“I’m done, did I do it right?”

Testing 1, 2, 3, 4 helps students who have a possible solution to a problem but aren’t sure how to test that solution. When students say, “I’m done, did I do it right?” this activity provides concrete ways for them to answer that question for themselves.

Putting Practice into Focus: The Case of Word Problems in Grades K-2

Standards co-author Jason Zimba explains

how word problems can build understanding

of addition and subtraction.