This morning I was working in a section of my online course [PoW Membership: Resources & Strategies for Effective Implementation] and one of the posts reminded me of how we introduce our problem solving rubric to students. Particularly if students are just starting the process of problem solving and communication, it’s important not to overwhelm them (or yourself!).

Whether you’re using the Math Forum’s Problems of the Week or other problem-solving prompts from your curriculum or other sources, these ideas might be helpful. For reference, the rubrics I’m referring to are (freely accessible) from this page: Teaching with the Problems of the Week

Just scroll down until you reach The Rubrics section on that page and you’ll find links to PDFs for Primary, Math Fundamentals (elementary), Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Geometry.

This is the order I might use to unveil each of the six sections of the rubric:

1. Interpretation
At the Math Forum we think that our Noticing/Wondering activity takes care of this quite nicely! Students are learning and practicing the first half of the CCSS Mathematical Practice #1 (Make sense of problems…)

2. Completeness
Even though I might introduce this second, it’s not something students will be able to do well if they’re new to problem solving. It takes time and a lot of reinforcement to have students develop the second half of Mathematical Practice #1 (… and persevere in solving them.)

3. Strategy
This then can be emphasized in conjunction with introducing some various strategies (hopefully your entire school is on board and students will have been introduced to strategies starting in kindergarten…but…maybe not!). We have summarized a nice set of strategies on our Problem Solving Activities page (linked from the left sidebar on most PoW pages).

4. Clarity
I like to explain this idea to students by saying … write your solution so that a classmate can follow what you did. For some reason emphasizing their classmate instead of their teacher is more motivating!

5. Accuracy
You may wonder why I would recommend this so far down the list and that’s because a thorough problem solving process most likely will result in accurate problem solving. I like to de-emphasize “getting quickly to the right answer” and instead emphasize the process … but, of course, bottom line is to get to the correct answer!

6. Reflection
We save the best for last! It’s tough to get kids to reflect on their process but it is very, very valuable.

Have you introduced rubrics to your students? What have been your successes? What have been your challenges?