The first step in the problem
solving process is to correctly identify the problem. The next is to explore,
identify, and choose a problem solving strategy. The third step in the process
is to correctly implement the strategy chosen.
But what happens when a student swears his/her strategy isn’t
working? Usually, they have a problem solving
habit that I might categorize as “malfunctioning” (not effective). Let’s look at the worst problem solving
habits that some of your students just might have.

__Top Ten Worst Problem Solving Habits__

**1) **Trying
to do it all in your head; not writing anything down.
**2) **Arbitrarily
choosing a strategy.
**3) **Staying
with a strategy when it is not working.
**4) **Giving
up on a strategy too early.
**5) **Getting
fixated on a single strategy and trying to use it for everything.
**6) **Not
asking yourself: “Does this make sense?”
**7) **Being
afraid to ask for help.
**8) **Not
checking your answer.
**9) **Not
noticing patterns.
**10) **Going
through the motions instead of thinking.

The student __should__ __be__ asking…

**1) H**ave I shown an adequate amount of work to
demonstrate what strategy (ies) I have used?

**2)
**Is there more than one strategy which I could use to
solve this problem?

**3)
**Does choosing one strategy over another make the implementation
easier?

**4)
**Does the strategy I have chosen use any tables,
charts, formulas or properties I need to review?

**5)
**What technology or manipulatives could I use to help
me solve the problem?

**As math teachers, what can we do in the classroom to
guide this kind of thinking?**