Our Book

September 26, 2013
publisher: Heinemann

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What People Are Saying

Packed with real classroom experiences and easy-to-adopt activities, this book will help every teacher of mathematics overcome the instructional obstacles we face when trying to engage students in problem solving, reasoning and communication.
Steve Leinwand
American Institutes for Research and author of Accessible Math
Max has distilled the Math Forum's years of experience, thousands of hours of classroom observation, and abundant creativity into a brisk book full of practice and theory.
Dan Meyer
This book is every teacher's roadmap for the development of mathematically proficient problem solvers. Teachers who read and spend time with this book will strengthen their own problem solving abilities and content knowledge and find confidence in their ability to think and reason.
Suzanne Mitchell, Ph.D.
Immediate Past President, National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics

Visit our Book Companion website
If you're reading your copy of our book you can access additional activities, resources, classroom videos, and more, organized by chapter. And everyone can watch some videos of Powerful Problem Solving in action and learn more about the book and the Math Forum.

click each image below to go to the corresponding video link


Powerful Problem Solving: Activities for Sense-Making with the Mathematical Practices

Our focus on sense-making and communication in our Problem Solving Activity Series is so important, we wrote a book about it! Authored by Max Ray, this book gathers what we've learned about helping students become proficient problem solvers, focused through the lens of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices. This book is about what we as a community know and believe about:

  • how students develop their abilities to make sense of mathematics,
  • how students develop the habits of mind outlined in the Standards for Mathematical Practice,
  • how the practices contribute to students' learning to make sense of mathematics,
  • how the practices align with problem-solving strategies students and teachers already use, and
  • specific activities teachers can use to support their students in engaging in the sense-making behaviors described in the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

We've also woven some key themes about mathematics teaching and learning, and building classroom community, throughout the book:

  • Problem solving is a process: the goal is not to be over and done, the goal is to unearth as much math as possible and to reflect and revise.
  • Unsilencing student voices: making space for student-to-student talk as well as student-to-teacher talk while limiting teacher-to-student talk.
  • Giving students space to think for themselves, struggle, and come up with their own ways to approach problems.
  • Taking lots of opportunities to listen to students and learn about their current thinking.
  • Using communication and comparison of student ideas, more often than the presentation of teacher ideas, to facilitate learning.
  • Focusing on the "verbs" of doing math (strategizing, organizing, experimenting) vs. the "nouns" of knowing math (concepts, skills, procedures).
  • Facilitating students' thinking to help students learn habits of mind vs. training students in processes to help them learn routines and practice skills.

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