If you are familiar with the Common Core Progressions documents, you may recognize the name Bill McCallum. He is a Common Core Standards author as well as an author of the Progressions. He frequently posts to the site Common Core Tools, and hosts a question and answer forum which can be very valuable for teachers looking for clarification of a standard.
He recently posted about students using multiple methods to solve (computation) problems. Much like a related post we published about turning strategies into “algorithms,” his post talks about the do’s and don’ts of having students solve with multiple methods.
His transportation analogy really helps to clear this topic up. For example, we should have multiple methods of solving strategies just as we have multiple methods of transportation, i.e. a bike, a car, a bus, and walking. We should know which is best to use and when, based on the situation. (I may walk or bike to school, but I’m not going to bike to Disney World!) And students shouldn’t be asked to solve the same problem in multiple ways if they have already determined a method that works for them. (Unless they may be comparing strategies to look for efficiency)