Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Problem SolvingSession 03 OverviewTab atab btab ctab dtab eReference
Part A

Observing Student Problem Solving
  Introduction | Building Staircases | Student Work #1 | Problem Reflection #1 | Student Work #2 | Problem Reflection #2 | Classroom Practice | Observe a Classroom | Your Journal


Problems help students make sense of mathematics and development strategies. When we guide and watch students engaging in problem solving, we can assess both their procedural fluency and their conceptual grasp of mathematics.

We've just observed some problem-solving strategies used by ninth-grade students. Now we'd like you to write about your classroom practice. As you make your journal entries, keep in mind the material you've just seen and read as context.

Questions to write and reflect about:
  • How can teachers create enthusiasm and interest in all students for problem solving?
  • What are the criteria teachers can use to select problems for introducing new material?
  • Problems should offer a rewarding challenge for students, being neither so obvious that they put no demands on them nor so difficult that they are clearly beyond their ability. How does the Staircase problem fill this role in Mr. Solomon's class? How do you make a determination about the appropriate level of difficulty in your own class?
  • Different students solve problems at different speeds and with different approaches in this classroom, or in any classroom. Given this factor, what is the role of the teacher in fostering effective problem solving? Be specific.
  • It is often straightforward to assess whether a student found the correct final answer. How do you assess whether the strategies and ability to apply them were sound? If a student has found a correct answer despite a faulty strategy, how do you respond?
Three ways to write and reflect:
  • Use pen and paper.
  • Use a word processor.
  • Use the form below.
Be sure to save what you have written before you navigate out of the journal section.


Your work will be displayed in a printer-friendly format to enable you to print.

Thank you for writing in your journal. Please keep your entries in whatever format you choose -- you will find them useful for reference later.

Next  Try a problem yourself

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