It seems like problems solving is the single most important skill that students can get out of attending math class. Organizing ideas and putting together coherent thoughts is a skill that can carry over to many different disciplines and is broadly applicable in and out of school.
One of the pioneers in problem solving that I have been exposed to is Polya. His methods for problem solving in mathematics have lasted the test of time and are just as valid now as when he wrote his problem solving manual "How to Solve It."
Teaching students the methods he presents in his famous work in an explicit step by step manner could have great potential for success on the new SBAC testing that is forthcoming. By teaching students the problem solving process, reenforcing the process continuously, and building in routines that will become second nature to students: we can give our pupils a way to attack these complex and intricate tasks that are coming down the pipeline.
In addition to serving students well during testing situations, these skills can carry over to aid students in organizing their thoughts and intuition into coherent understanding.
There are so many resources out there for Polya and his book on problem solving that I am not going to go into the process here. If you do a quick web search there are multiple summaries on his work. Thought I suggest just buying his book and keeping a copy around for reference if you don't already have one.
By: Mr. Woodford
I will reflect on ideas and practices I learn through my formative years as a classroom math teacher.