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Young adolescent reaction to problem solving and decision making can be decidedly mixed.On the one hand, playing an active role in the solution process – figuring something out and being creative – can be fun, exciting, sometimes even addicting for young minds that are ready to be engaged.Each activity set is accompanied by needed math facts, strategy tips, and comprehensive solutions that teachers and parents can use to help support student investigations.
They finish middle school and begin high school usually embarking on year-long studies of content-intensive mathematical subject areas: a year of Algebra 1, then a year of Geometry, then a year of Algebra 2, and so on.
Though young adolescents begin middle school ready to think with more power, creativity, and independence, the accompanying increase in content expectations means that a balance between mathematical content and practice can be difficult to achieve.
Ideally, the middle school years provide educators with new opportunities to foster good thinking habits and mathematical practices.
Students begin middle school exposed to mathematics as a very broad subject covering a wide array of topics: 2D geometry, probability, percentages, number theory, logic, patterns, statistics, graphing, number operations, proportions, elementary algebra, 3D geometry, and so on.These enrichment activities challenge students to make decisions and construct solutions – to play an active role when learning content.Variety is favored over repetition, although care is taken to have common themes emphasized and connections reinforced.However, overcoming obstacles and persevering with a task that requires multiple steps and authentic reasoning can also sometimes be discouraging for early adolescent brains just learning how to tap into their emerging powers.The frustration level can depend on the difficulty level of the problem-solving situation, and a common, safe path is to keep decision making and creative expectations down to a minimum.Developing good thinking and learning habits requires investment of time and patience, and well-intended educators can be drawn away from quality mathematical practices when the drive to learn content becomes too formidable.Content can be learned in ways that ask young adolescents to harness and develop their new cognitive abilities.- Peggy, educator, Tucson, AZ "For 12 years, I've recommended your company to my teacher-training students.Your materials are exceptionally valuable to teachers.The first Common Core mathematical practice standard emphasizes the need to have students make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.The most important ingredient in Polya’s classic four-step problem solving strategy is the act of making decisions, as opposed to simply applying an algorithm that has been instructed.