In the past, we've used worded problems, extended worded problems and open ended maths investigations. All with various success. Earlier this year, we were introduced to Deconstructed Maths Problem Solving after training from 5ense of Number.
We have an example here. Print these out so that there are enough copies for one of each per group in your class. Put them in piles, of the same sheets, face down, where you will base yourself in the lesson. Number each pile and keep a note for yourself of which information is in each pile.
Here's how it works:
- introduce the problem by stating that this is actually about you and that it is going to happen. Make the children believe it's real. (In the example given here, it's your family, your holiday and you'll actually be going). Do not give away any information that's on the sheets;
- in groups, the children list everything they think they need to know to solve the problem;
- now, one (and only one person) at a time from each group can come and ask for the information they think they need. For example, "How many people are in your family?" And, they'd be handed the sheet that gives them this information.
- the group calculate the parts of the problem they know about as, and when, they get them;
- as time is running out, allow children to come and collect any sheets they have not yet collected;
- finish by running through the answer together.
This has not been about getting the right answer or completing the investigation (although most groups have done both). It has been about group work, discussions, completing numerous calculations and looking at jottings or methods used.