Nurturing Powerful Problem Solvers

PD Courses

The authors of Powerful Problem Solving are leading this new professional development course, making use of Powerful Problem Solving and the companion website,, and its growing 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


When we have the specific dates, we'll post them here.


      Register now!


Week 7: Organizing
read Chapter 7
look at multiple examples of student work
collect different ways of organizing work from your students OR
make a plan for how you would sequence and facilitate a sharing-out of sample student work
Week 8: Abstracting
read Chapter 8
discuss the "Frog Farming" vignette
make a video or recording 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: 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: The Problem-Solving Process
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
compare novice and expert problem solving processes
Week 11: Conclusion
read Chapter 11
share a reflection on your own learning
make plans for continuing the conversation
Week 12: Surveys & sharing final videos
take a short survey about the course
share a video or product you created during the course with colleagues

Please email me with any questions.

Max Ray-Riek, Project Manager

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