Problem Solving Working Backwards

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Each month I am tacking a different problem solving strategy this month it is working backwards.

Working backwards is sometimes the best strategy and one of the most difficult for students to understand.

Providing them with strategies enables them to at least get the ideas flowing and hopefully get some things down on paper.

As in all areas of life, the hardest part is getting started!

These worksheets are a great way to get students to read all the directions take in all the information and then work from there.

After doing these worksheets apply working backwards to math.Finally, the third Prince ate 1/2 of what was left, leaving only three mangoes for the servants. Try out these lesson and let us know what you think.MANGO Math Crates provide great games and activities that make students enjoy and understand math. Kids are less intimidated by the word, creative thinking, than they are a problem solving as that implies that there is a “problem”.Students need to learn to interpret what they are reading and draw out information. I have found that students’ frustration with working on “story problems” has been where to start and what information do you need.Giving the students a trick about reading through all the directions is unintimidating and proves a point in an amusing way.Do you remember the problem where you ask students to read all the directions before starting and then the last question says don’t do the work just sign your name at the top?And as Stephen Covey says in his book, Ask students to then use this information to give directions from the school back home. So if working forwards requires addition, when students work backwards they will need to subtract.Depending on the age of your students, you may even want to draw a map so they can see clearly that they have to do the opposite as they make their way back home from school. And if they multiply working forwards, they must divide when working backwards.For instance, when I plan a math lesson I think about what I want students to know and be able to do, and then work backwards from there.Or when I have a set of goals that I want to achieve, I work backwards from the goal to come up with steps that will (hopefully) get me there. When using the “work backwards” strategy, each operation must be reversed to get back to the beginning.


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