As we have settled into some of our math routines, I have decided to really focus in on getting my students to have a bank of strategies to use when approaching a novel problem. I still have a fair number of students who look at a problem, sit back, and declare, “I don’t get it.” before even giving it a go.

Today’s “hints” involved trying the following steps:

1. Read the problem all the way through at least 2 times . . . the first time to make sure you know all the words, and the second time to try to “visualize” what is happening. For example, are you putting things together? Are items being sorted into boxes? Is something being eaten? Are you measuring?

2. Once students have read it twice, I suggested they highlight information that they feel is critical to the problem and then CIRCLE the actual question they are trying to answer. Now mind you…these are suggestions–I would never REQUIRE students to use these steps…they simply aren’t always needed! Teaching them is just meant to give students tools to add to their problem solving toolbox.

**“The numbers are written so neatly.”**

**“The answer was easy to find.”**

**“It used the blue lines on the page.”**

**“This one had an explanation.”**