
Posted: 1/31/2015  Updated: 2/2/2015 
Hello, my name is Zoya. I teach Olympiad math at ICA to 1st 5th graders. I use a model approach to nonroutine problem solving, analytical approach to the relationship between numbers and operations, and handson approach to the problems on spatial relations. To help children acquire this type of analytical thinking I employ the following strategies: “model drawing”, “systematic listing”, “experimental approach” as well as “recognizing patterns”. These skills are taught in layers.
For example, to help children visualize the problems involved with ”How many more/less/fewer” questions I use “straws” activity. I distribute straws unequally between 2 children and ask the class to compare the number of straws that each child has. In addition, on the 1st grade level I teach children to look at a picture with objects lined up side by side with one of the lines/bars representing more or less. On the second grade level I teach children how to interpret and to connect the words in the problem to a model drawn by a teacher (bars drawn side by side to represent the given unequal quantities) as well as using “straws activity” and a graphic organizer with multiple situations. In older grades, I teach children to, first, draw a model to describe a more complex situation, secondly, state clearly what part of the model represents a unit, and only then write multistep solution. The same type of approach takes place in other topics of primary level math. Some of them are: balance scales, patterns of numbers and 2D shapes, perimeters, areas and volumes of various rectangular 2D and 3D figures. I employ the following resources: Singapore “FanMath process skills in Problem Solving” and “Challenging Word problems” for all grade levels. In addition, I use a series of books written for gifted children by Edward Zaccaro and Brain Maths by TanThoo Liang.
Click on our “Problem of the month” in different levels: 1^{st}grade (level 1), 2^{nd} and 3^{rd }grades (level 2) and 4^{th}  6^{th} grades (level 3).
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