Our draft 10-12 BC math curriculum has a phrase that I’m going to verbally process here, as part of thinking through something for a workshop I’m in today.

What does it mean to assess if students can “Apply flexible strategies to solve problems”?

My initial assumption was to make this about recognizing multiple ways to solve a problem. But is that the best way to read this? Flexibility generally means being able to adapt to challenges or obstacles.

Sometimes, having multiple ways to solve something does enable one to switch to a second approach when the first one fails. But say a student is solving a system of linear equations. Does knowing how to graph a solution and knowing how to use substitution necessarily make their strategies flexible? What if they can use both methods but don’t particularly know why to choose one vs the other?

Or a different perspective: can’t a single strategy be flexible, if it encompasses ways to adapt to unusual challenges?

One example might be solving equations overall. Perhaps simply being able to solve an equation with a variety of algebraic “moves”, selecting them based on the particular situation, is a successful example of applying a flexible strategy.

Thoughts? Would love to hear both BC and non-BC teachers contribute what they think about this phrase.

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