Problem Solving Professional Learning

teacher-registration-logoChildren develop their problem solving understanding and capacity through engagement in problem solving lessons. The goal of problem solving lessons is not mastery at solving THIS problem. The goal of problem solving lessons is to develop the problem solving understanding and capacity of every child.


VIDEO TEACHING PROBLEM SOLVING provides video explanation of the problem solving steps and process.
 provides down-loadable written explanation of the problem solving steps and process.

PROFESSIONAL LEARNING provides a PowerPoint of a problem for teachers or parents to solve following the steps and process.
 provides a script and agenda for a teacher to use to lead participants (including parents!) through the problem solving steps and process. 

The problem solving resources, included with EVERY level of EVERY concept at A Learning Place A Teaching Place, are designed to allow you to engage children in differentiated problem solving. 

As Dan Meyer perceived, children are often pre-loaded with viruses when it comes to problem solving! They lack initiative, perseverance and retention, have an aversion to word problems and are often eager for formula. (Dan Meyer – TED talk)

Problems allow children to investigate concepts in new and varied situations. Any problem worth solving takes time and effort – that’s why they’re called problems!

Paul Lockhart proposed ‘A good problem is something you don’t know how to solve. That’s what makes it a good puzzle and a good opportunity’. (Paul Lockhart A Mathematician’s Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form)

Problems are designed to develop and use higher order thinking. John Wesley Young explained, ‘It is clear that the chief end of mathematical study must be to make the students think’ and John Dewey added ‘We only think when confronted with a problem.’

Allowing children to grapple with problems, providing minimal support by asking strategic questions, is key. Problems may not always be solved the first time they are presented. Returning to a problem after further learning, develops both resilience and increased confidence as children take the necessary time and input the necessary effort. Albert Einstein felt that, ‘It’s not that I’m so smart – I just stay with problems longer’.

Differentiating problems allows children to solve simpler problems, before solving more complex problems on a concept. George Polya found that ‘If there is a problem you can’t solve, then there is an easier problem you can’t solve: find it’.

As the expert in your classroom, you may differentiate the problems, and the problem solving process using the levels of understanding demonstrated by the children in your class.