Resource 1: Why problem solving is important

Background information / subject knowledge for teacher

Problem solving:

  • adds enjoyment and interest to mathematics lessons;
  • helps pupils gain confidence in their mathematical ability;
  • helps pupils see the interaction between mathematics and everyday life;
  • helps pupils value mathematical learning;
  • improves communication skills in mathematics;
  • develops the process of making and testing hypotheses;
  • develops abstract thinking.

Strategies for solving problems

  • Draw a picture or diagram.
  • Make a table.
  • Make a list.
  • Look for a pattern.
  • Guess and check.
  • Say the problem in a different way.
  • Look at all possibilities systematically.
  • Work backwards.
  • Solve a simpler problem with fewer variables.
  • Explore the role of each variable in turn by fixing the others.
  • Explore any previous similar problems.
  • Look for the ‘deep’ features.

3. Thinking about problems

Resource 2: Ways to help pupils solve problems