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Differentiated Math Instruction:
Using Rich Problems to Reach All Learners

Rich problems invite a variety of solution strategies. They provide an effective vehicle for accommodating a range of levels and learning styles. In this six-week online course participants will explore strategies for using problem solving to build skills and concepts for struggling students and to provide challenge for those who soar.

View syllabus or download as pdf.

NOTE: If there is enough interest, we will offer a section for teachers of Grades 8-12 and another focused on Grades 3-7; otherwise, we will provide differentiated tasks and opportunities for small groups with common grade levels/interests to work together. All participants will do math, discover rich problems, and learn and share tips and techniques for effective differentiation.

  This moderated course will be led by Max Ray, Professional Collaboration Facilitator. It will take place online using Blackboard Vista (formerly WebCT). The only technical requirements are a web browser and Internet access.

Who: Teachers of grades 3-12 with classroom accounts.

Participation requires Problem of the Week membership at the Class level or higher. Non-members or Individual Teacher members may purchase the necessary access at a discounted rate.


August 25 - October 6, 2011
Registration closes at 5 pm EDT on Thursday, August 25, 2011. There will be approximately 20 hours of seat-work involved in this course.

Credit: All individuals who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate indicating that they have completed 20 hours of professional development. This is equivalent to 2.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

In this course you will:

  • learn how rich problems help teachers differentiate instruction for learners with diverse developmental levels and learning styles.
  • discuss how problem analysis enables teachers to take better advantage of a problem's potential.
  • develop strategies for adapting problems to make them more accessible or more challenging.
  • learn management strategies that allow all students to grow.
  • explore ways in which assessment of problem solving can inform instructional decisions.

Course activities will include:

  • readings from the Common Core State Standards (all available online).
  • readings from books and teaching journals, for example Using Rich Problems for Differentiated Instruction, by Eric Hsu, Judy Kysh, and Diane Resek.
  • solving rich problems and discussing how they can be used to differentiate instruction on core concepts.
  • considering strategies for making problems more accessible.
  • considering strategies for making problems more challenging.
  • sharing ideas and reflections with coursemates through online journals and discussions.

Please email me with any questions.

Max Ray, Professional Collaboration Facilitator

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