Designing Effective Problem-Solving Tasks
The Common Core State Standards in mathematics require students to show mastery, evidenced through conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and the successful application of learned processes. Teachers can see just how rigorous students’ learning is in the application of their mathematical thinking by challenging them with routine and non-routine problems, as recommended by the Practice Guide, Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 Through 8. This collection presents strategies and tools that educators can easily adapt for their own classroom practice.
The first video, an overview of the Practice Guide recommendations, provides useful examples of strategies and tools around arithmetic skills, algebraic notation, and visual representations. Then in Designing Worthwhile Problems, two IES panel members discuss elements to consider as teachers plan to teach problem solving in diverse classrooms, including context, vocabulary, and differentiating between routine and non-routine problems. Talking Through Problems and Their Solutions presents specific suggestions for encouraging students to reflect on, explain, and justify their responses, thereby improving their sense making.