Created by Laura Candler
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Problem solving is one of the most important, yet most neglected, areas of math instruction. Many math skills are relatively easy to teach, but teaching kids how to think through a problem in a logical manner is most definitely NOT easy! Yet why should we teach math at all if our students can't apply their knowledge to everyday life?
What if you could significantly improve your students' problem- solving abilities in just 15 minutes a day? A mere 15 minutes per day adds up to 45 hours of instruction on problem solving! Even 10 minutes a day would result in 30 hours of problem-solving instruction. What if you found a method that involved very little preparation yet provided a clear and sequential approach to problem-solving? And what if your students began to look forward to those 10 to 15 minutes of math instruction? What if they actually enjoyed the problems and asked you for MORE????
No need to wonder . . . Daily Math Puzzlers is that program! These math problems were field-tested by dozens of teachers all over the world, and their kids were actually asking for more! The program helped students develop confidence in their problem-solving abilities. As a teacher, you'll enjoy the step-by-step instructions for reviewing calculator skills, teaching problem-solving steps and strategies, and providing a variety of challenging and engaging math problems.
The Daily Math Puzzler Power Pack is more than a book - it's a complete problem-solving program!
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to find time to teach problem solving? Most math textbooks have problem-solving strategy lessons in every chapter, but somehow I could never find enough time to teach those lessons. I knew that problem-solving was important, but in the interests of sticking to an instructional timeline, I ended up skipping those lessons because it was "time to move on."
So I decided to create my own math problem-solving program, one that I could implement in just 10 to 15 minutes a day. I knew I would need something simple yet effective, a program that didn't require me to search for new word problems every day. I developed and used this program last year, and I knew I had a winner when I saw my results on our state math exam. WOW! At the beginning of the year, only 62% of my students had passed the previous year's math exam. At the end of the year, 87% passed! This year I'm going for 100%!
After experiencing those results, I knew I had to share my program. The basic plan centers on the Daily Math Puzzler worksheet which has four word problems that can be solved in a variety of ways. (View and print the samples on the right.) You distribute the Activity Page (fancy name for worksheet!) on Monday, and students work out the answer to the first problem. You quickly spot-check the answers and circle the "check plus" symbol for anyone who found the correct answer and showed all their work. On Tuesday, you teach a brief mini-lesson on how to solve that problem. Students correct their answers and move on to the next problem. If you follow that sequence, you'll wrap up the fourth problem on Friday. Simply collect the worksheets and assign a grade based on accuracy and class participation. It's that easy!
The Word Problem Activity Pages and the overall program design make it different from anything on the market. It's simple to use, and everything you need is included in the Power Pack.
Word Problem Activity Page features include:
Program Design features include:
Each book contains a set of problems designed for a particular grade level span, but the levels overlap due to student differences from school to school. Click on each link below to view sample worksheets from that particular level. When the series is complete, the Daily Math Puzzler program will contain the following levels:
Level A - Grades 2, 3 and 4
Level B - Grades 3, 4, and 5
Level C - Grades 4, 5, and 6
Level D - Grades 5, 6, and 7
If you are trying to find out where to start your students in the program, download the free Problem Solving Assessment Power Pack and give them a quick pretest. This assessment will quickly show you your students' strengths and weaknesses in problem solving.
A teacher recently wrote to ask me why I included a section on calculator skills in each Daily Math Puzzler book. Here's my response:
Good question! I included calculator skills in the Daily Math Puzzler program because students in my state (NC) are allowed to use calculators on a portion of our state math exam. I have found that many students don't know how to use a calculator properly, and they need instruction in this area. If we hand them a calculator for the test but don't teach them how to use it, they will make careless errors that could be avoided. For example, calculators don't display dollar signs and ending zeros with money amounts. Many students don't know that 3.1 means $3.10 instead of $3.01. I also find that students are more willing to use higher-level thinking skills when they are solving problems if they don't have to worry about basic calculations. Computation skills are very important, but I don't teach them at the same time as problem solving.
You will have to be the judge of whether calculator instruction is needed in your classroom. I think it's an important life skill, but if your students are not allowed to use calculators on standardized tests, you can skip over the calculator activities. That portion of the Daily Math Puzzler program is optional, and leaving it out won't have a major impact on the success of the overall program.