Bowen Kerins documents a high-leverage practice:

The concept of guess-check-generalize starts by changing the nature of the problem. The question to start with changes from “What is the correct bar height?” to “Is 100 the correct bar height?”

Later, he notes that guess-check-generalize can reduce the difficulty level of word problems “by 2 or 3 grade levels immediately.” Of course, once you reach the point of generalization, the problem is just as challenging as it was before. The difference is how many more students you help reach that point.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.

1 Comment

  1. lfarrington

    June 8, 2011 - 6:27 am -

    Has anyone here tried this? I used to teach using pattern generalization technique similar to this but my new school focuses quite a bit on memorizing forms of equations. I found that students remembered for longer and were able to recreate an equation if they found it using pattern recognition. My method was a little more tightly structured than this though, so I’m wondering how it works for people who have tried it.