Developing Powerful Problem Solvers

PD Courses

Max Ray-Riek and the Math Forum team lead this professional development course, making use of Powerful Problem Solving and the companion website,, and its collection of classroom videos, student handouts, and resources. Each week will include reading a chapter, watching selected video clips and/or looking at student work, and tasks or projects using the skills from that chapter. This is the first course in a two-course sequence, the second course being Nurturing Powerful Problem Solvers.

Download syllabus [PDF].

This moderated course will be led by Max Ray-Riek, the main author of Powerful Problem Solving, with Suzanne Alejandre, and Annie Fetter. It will take place online using Canvas. The only technical requirements are a web browser and Internet access.

Who: teachers of grades 3-8

Participation requires separate purchase of the book, Powerful Problem Solving available from Heinemann or


October 2 - November 10, 2017
Registration closes at 5 pm EDT on Monday, October 2, 2017. There will be approximately 20 hours of seat-work involved in this course.


      Register now!


Week 1: Chapter 1: Introduction
Become oriented to the Canvas environment (only an Internet connection and Web browser are required)
Introduce yourself and become acquainted with the other course participants
Become oriented to the companion website,
Read Chapter 1 and discuss what you were surprised by, what felt familiar, and what you anticipate
Week 2: Chapter 2: Communication and Community
Read Chapter 2
Try a communication activity from Chapter 2 OR
Share a task you could add a communication component to
Read the "Peanut Butter & Jelly" classroom story and reflect on it
Week 3: Chapter 3: Learning through Listening
Read Chapter 3
Read the "Repeating vs. Not Repeating Is the Question" blog post and watch the accompanying video OR
Watch the first five minutes of Annie asking questions of students in the "Cupcakes, Cupcakes! Using Manipulatives" video clip
Try a listening activity from Chapter 3 OR reflect on the reading or video clip and how you might take some of what you noticed into your own classrooms
Week 4: Chapter 4: Noticing and Wondering
Read Chapter 4
Watch a Noticing and Wondering video clip
Try a Noticing and Wondering activity from Chapter 4 OR
Reflect on the video clips and craft a "Tips for Noticing and Wondering" blog post OR
Describe how you would follow up with the class whose noticing and wondering is shared in Chapter 4
Week 5: Chapter 5: Change the Representation: Seeing the Big Picture
Read Chapter 5
Watch a video clip of students representing a problem scenario
Share student representations of a math scenario or problem OR
Choose a student representation from the book or video and explain the representation and how you might follow up with that student
Week 6: Chapter 6: Engaging Students' Number Sense Through Guessing
Read Chapter 6
Watch a video clip of the "Best Guess" activity
Try a guessing activity from Chapter 6 OR
Share a critique of the "Best Guess" activity video clip

Please email me with any questions.

Max Ray-Riek, Project Manager

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Home || The Math Library || Quick Reference || Search || Help 

© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.