The Teacher Tip
Using Multiple Strategies
July 2, 2018
Adapted from Thinking Together by Rozlynn Dance & Tessa Kaplan.
To change the way we and our students think about math, it is important to emphasize two key beliefs:
- There are different strategies to solve a problem, and students should be flexible in using a variety of strategies.
- While finding the answer is the end goal, it’s more important to be able to explain how we got there.
When students are able to explain their thinking and have freedom to pick a strategy that works for them, they are able to create meaning around mathematical concepts.
Students deepen their conceptual understanding by seeing and using a variety of strategies. When exposed to many strategies and representations, students learn to pick the strategy that not only makes the most sense but is also the most efficient given a particular problem. Students also need to spend time comparing different strategies and making connections between multiple representations of a problem, strengthening their mathematical understanding as they do. As teachers, we must create a classroom culture that empowers students to try new strategies and bravely compare those strategies with those of their classmates.
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