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There are many ways to solve a problem. As great as the solution can be, however, it’s the process where the learning really happens. In our Investigations math series, we talk a lot about using different creative strategies to approach a problem. We compare math solving strategies to a physical toolbox. As great as a hammer is, it’s not the right tool for every situation. Really, who would want to brush their teeth with a hammer?

In solving a math problem, having a wide range of strategies will help us be ready for the many different kinds of situations that come our way. Standard multiplication might work great one day, but the next time around it might be better to build a rectangular array or draw pictures of the problem. More tools (strategies) equal more powerful mathematicity.

In class today, I saw several different approaches to the problem 26 x 12. I grabbed the Flip video camera and recorded some of the strategies the students were using. Afterward, we discussed how the strategies were similar and how they were different. We also looked at the efficiency of the different approaches. It’s all about matching the tool to the job, and finding the best fit possible.

So…what’s YOUR process?

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