Using the PoWs - Getting Started
By: Annie Fetter
When you start doing problem solving in your classroom, keep in mind that one goal should be to create an environment that supports problem solving as an extended process. The intent is to engage students in the process, so the short term goal should be process over product. Don’t worry about whether or not your students
are solving all the problems correctly or completely. Are your students engaged? Are they all participating? Are they asking questions? Are they talking about math? If so, then the process is happening, and the product will follow. To see what this looked like
in one class I taught, see the
Teresa's Tiles Example (PDF).
To put the focus more on the process, introduce the class to the problem by removing The Question. This can be done as a whole class (which is how I might start) or in small groups. The students must analyze the situation and focus on reading and interpretation instead of coming up with The Answer.
Remember that the goal is to get your students engaged in the process of thinking mathematically and about how to solve problems. It is not about finding the solution, at least not initially. You will be able to judge the success of this activity as you listen to the buzz in the classroom and see how many more students are participating.