I'm tutoring an eighth grader in math, and while he is particularly bright he is not very good at taking the time to show his work and write things down. He likes to try to solve a problem in his head, write down the answer, and move on. Oftentimes he's correct, but I'm afraid that down the road if he keeps this up he will eventually land in a class that he can't approach this way and won't have anything to fall back on. He just finished algebra.
Specifically, I'd like to help him learn to solve problems on paper, and also to help him learn to explain his solutions clearly. I have two thoughts I'd appreciate feedback on, and if anyone has any suggestions of other directions I could go I would appreciate that as well.
My two ideas at the moment are:
- Make some worksheets of problems similar to what he saw in algebra, in which he is asked to solve/explain the problems in stages, e.g. 'What are we trying to accomplish?', 'What information is known?', 'Try X solution method and show all work', 'Explain your solution', etc.
- Introduce him to some basic parity or divisibility proofs, and emphasize being able to explain things clearly and completely.