Applying problem-solving skills to find elegant math solutions

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The Middle School math department’s 5 main learning outcomes are to:

  1. Communicate using correct mathematical language.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of grade level concepts.
  3. Model problems using mathematics and apply problem-solving skills to find elegant solutions.
  4. Reason using mathematical thinking rather than memorizing procedures.
  5. Collaborate effectively and confidently.

The 7th grade have finished their unit on basic geometry and were given a formal summative assessment.  This question was one of the final questions on the test and required higher level thinking skills as they had to analyse the question and decide on the best strategy to solve it.  To achieve full marks the solution required: the modelling of the problem using equations; reasons for their mathematical statements; and excellent communication As you see many of the students hit this target and produced very elegant solutions.

by Cate Cooke, Middle School math teacher