Nurturing 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 second course in a two-course sequence, the first course being Developing 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, Annie Fetter, and Steve Weimar. 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


January 8 - February 16, 2018
Registration closes at 5 pm EDT on Monday, January 8, 2018. There will be approximately 20 hours of seat-work involved in this course.


      Register now!


Week 7: Chapter 7: Getting Organized
Read Chapter 7
Look at and reflect on a "Table Gallery" of student work
Try an organization activity from Chapter 7 OR
Share a plan for how you would sequence and facilitate the sharing of the student work in the table gallery
Week 8: Chapter 8: Generalizing, Abstracting, and Modeling
Read Chapter 8
Discuss your reflections on the "Frog Farming" story from Chapter 8
Share a video, recording, or journal of you helping students with a problem and reflect on when you helped students be more concrete and when you helped them be more abstract OR
Solve a Math Forum PoW and create a description of how you moved between concrete and abstract thinking
Week 9: Chapter 9: Looking for Structure
read Chapter 9
solve multiple Math Forum PoWs and work with colleagues from the course or your own school to determine what makes the problems similar, what problem-solving strategies or tools would help make these problems easier to solve, and how you could use this sequence of problems to introduce students to a new strategy or tool
Week 10: Chapter 10: The Problem-Solving Process and Metacognition
read Chapter 10
Watch video of students engaged in problem solving OR
Make a video of your own students engaged in problem solving
Identify the phases of problem solving students go through
Write a reflection on the differences between novice and expert problem solving
Week 11: Chapter 11: Reflecting, Revising, Justifying, and Extending
read Chapter 11
Try an activity from Chapter 11 OR
Read some amples of student work, feedback, and student revisions and consider how the feedback might be improved to get better revisions
Share how you are reflecting, revising, justifying, or extending your own work through this course and book
Week 12: Chapter 12: Conclusion
read Chapter 12
Take a short course survey
Share videos or stories from your classroom/teaching/coaching related to the course
Watch a video that a classmate made for the course and share positive feedback

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.