Genni Brzezinski: Mathematics Problem Solving

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Imagine sitting in a sixth grade mathematics classroom with thirty two other students. Each day, you follow the same routine. Each class is dominated by teacher instruction. When you are asked to solve a problem, you are only able to solve the problem using the same method that the teacher demonstrated.

Where is the student engagement, the motivation to learn, and most importantly, the creativity?

In order for students to be engaged and to be able to reach a deep level of understanding, they should be encouraged to use various strategies to find solutions. With the implementation of the common core standards, students are encouraged to use different approaches to solve real-life problems. This practice will not only engage learners of different abilities, but also help them in their future schooling and careers.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

· Describe the need for students to become better problem solvers and to be able to solve problems in more than one way.

· Identify Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices in videos of middle school exemplary lessons.

· Recognize and describe different problem solving methods and understand how they can be applied to solve real-life problems.

· Apply different problem solving strategies to meet the needs of diverse learners (Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences).

· Analyze different student work samples to see how students use different problem solving strategies of their interest to solve a common real-life task.


Unit 1: Why the push for problem-solving?

Unit 2: What some are problem solving strategies?

Unit 3: Through analyzing student work, how can we promote different strategies for solving problems?

Additional Resources/References