Sample Problem Solving Menu
Below you will see the second of nine Problem Solving Menus through which my students progress at their own pace during the school year. Usually, the kids will do their menus after they finish their daily math work, though occasionally we will spend an entire math period working on our menus.
The menu shown below is the first one with problems containing conditions, which are special rules that constrain or limit the problem solverâ€™s options. I underline the conditions in menu #2 to ease my studentsâ€™ transition to this aspect of problem solving, but in the remaining menus students are asked to identify conditions without this assistance.
Three of the four problems on menu #2 feature scenarios in which the members of a group have choices to make - about frozen yogurt flavors, dog collar colors, and PE activities. These three problems require students to use the process of elimination strategy, which can be done by making a chart, listing choices and crossing the ones that arenâ€™t possible, guessing and checking, or using logical reasoning.
The other problem on this menu, â€œThe Supermarket Problem,â€ is a multi-step word problem requiring students to compute. Because these problems are emphasized heavily in our state standards and on standardized testing, I include them several times throughout the nine menus.
Many of the nine menus are configured similarly to menu #2. The idea is that one type of problem is repeated two or three times so students can gain familiarity and comfort with the type of thinking the problem type requires. All four problems on a given menu, however, never feature the same problem type because we donâ€™t want to become that predicatble and have students automatically use a certain strategy because they notice that every problem on that menu requires that strategy.
Finally, I like to use studentsâ€™ names in these problems because it adds interest and increases motivation to solve the problems.
Problem Solving Menu #2
(Note: The conditions on this menu have been underlined for you. Remember, conditions are special rules that tell you what can or cannot happen and limit the choices you can make.)
The Frozen Yogurt Problem
Francesca, Grace, and Felle went into TCBY to buy yogurt. The three available flavors were vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. There was only one portion left of each flavor. Felle never eats anything that is spelled with a double letter. Grace loves yogurt, but she is allergic to fruits with seeds. Francesca, because she is a good sport with a positive attitude, said she would eat whatever flavor was left. Which flavor did each girl have?
The Dog Collar Problem
Billy, Shane, Devin, and Tikal each bought a new dog. Then, they each bought one collar for their dogs. The collars were blue, silver, dark green, and turquoise. The color of each dogâ€™s collar begins with a letter that is different from the first letter of the ownerâ€™s name. Tikal and Shane wonâ€™t buy anything dark green for their dogs. Shaneâ€™s dog doesnâ€™t have a turquoise collar. What is the color of each personâ€™s dog collar?
The Supermarket Problem
Nicole went into the market to buy some healthy snacks. She bought an apple, three bananas, and two bags of carrot sticks. Apples cost $.85 each, bananas cost $.75 each, and carrot sticks cost $1.25 per bag. If Nicole paid with a $10.00 bill, how much change did Nicole receive?
The PE Problem
The students of Roosevelt are now able to choose their own PE activities. The choices are football, kayaking, lacrosse, and equestrian. There is one space left in each activity. Frankie, Kira, Larry, and Egypt are the last four kids to make their choices. All the kids picked an activity that begins with a letter that is different from the first letter of their names. Kira did not choose lacrosse or equestrian. Frankie and Egypt did not choose kayaking. Which activity did each student choose?
New Teaching Tips appear every Sunday of the school year.