How do you help a student who is stuck on a problem? A student who can’t seem to find the mistakes s/he makes? I really like this recent idea from Maria Droujkova, shared by Denise of Lets Play Math. Original source here.
When a kid is feel bad about being stuck with a problem, or just very anxious, I sometimes ask to make as many mistakes as he can, and as outrageous as he can. Laughter happens (which is valuable by itself, and not only for the mood – deep breathing brings oxygen to the brain). Then the kid starts making mistakes. In the process, features of the problem become much clearer, and in many cases a way to a solution presents itself.