The Problem Solving and Communication Activity Series

Are you looking for ways to help your students become more confident problem solvers? To help students move beyond "I don't get it"? For ways to teach specific problem-solving strategies? Here we present activities, with student handouts, that can be used with many PoWs to help students develop, formalize, and reflect on their problem-solving strategies. We also focus on enhancing students' mathematical communication skills, as they write to learn, communicate, and present.

The Problem Solving and Communication Activities can be used with each Current Problem of the Week to support students' problem solving. Or, they can be used as part of a stand-alone problem-solving curriculum. Sequencing suggestions, pacing guides, and orienting activities for students are included in our Introduction to the Activity Series [pdf].

We encourage you to start with Understand the Problem. You can also view 2009-10's sequential list of Problem-Solving strategies, with aligned problems and examples of possible student work.

Note: Teachers who do not have a class-level membership can not access last year's problems nor the aligned problems with each strategy below. Learn more about the different membership options.

Each Current PoW, which all teacher members have access to, is aligned with a strategy and has supporting activities, available in the blue resources box on each problem page.


The order suggested below is the order in which we originally introduced these strategies.

1. Understand the Problem 6. Use Logical Reasoning 10. Plan and Reflect
2. Guess and Check 7. Change the Representation           11. Get Unstuck
3. Solve a Simpler Problem 8. Make a Mathematical Model 12. Play
4. Make a Table 9. Work Backwards 13. Wonder
5. Look at Cases

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