The Problems of the Week Program

The Math Forum offers an integrated program based on our award-winning Problems of the Week. The program has three components:

  • Problems of the Week (PoWs) and Write Math: PoWs by Standard, including teacher support materials.
  • Problem Solving and Communication Activity Series, focused on strategic competence and writing fluency.
  • Professional Development for effective implementation, formative assessment, and building mathematical knowledge for teaching.

Do the problems with your students, use the Activity Series to develop student confidence and higher order thinking skills, and collaborate with leading experts and fellow teachers through our professional development programs. More information about each component follows.

Problems of the Week

Problems of the Week (PoWs) are inventive, engaging challenges designed to get your students thinking, talking, and doing mathematics. Current PoWs cover Primary, Math Fundamentals, Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Geometry. The Problems Library is an archive of all of the past PoWs that includes solutions sent in by students from all over the world, plus commentary from the Math Forum staff and mentors. It covers those same five Current PoW topics, plus Discrete Math and Trigonometry & Calculus. Write Math: PoWs by Standard enables selection of problems by individual grade band, and aligns problems to common textbooks and to state standards.

Students are encouraged to submit solutions explaining how they arrived at their answer, as the beginning of a process designed to develop their communication and mathematical thinking skills. These solutions may be mentored by volunteer or paid mentors, or by their own teacher. The Math Forum offers an instructional rubric for scoring student work and detailed instructions on giving helpful feedback to students. The mentoring process promotes reflective, thoughtful problem solving.

Each Current PoW (and many problems in the Problems Library) comes with supplemental materials, including:

  • Teacher Packets with implementation resources
  • Activities from the Activity Series (described in the next column)
  • A guide to related online resources

The online resources give you background information about mathematical techniques in a problem, virtual manipulatives for explorations, and access to similar problems for practice. Enhanced Problem Packets for Teachers are PDF documents that include an overview of the problem, teaching suggestions, our solutions, and, for problems from our Library, sample student work with rubric-related commentary and suggested interventions.

Problem Solving and Communication Activity Series

The Activity Series provides a framework and classroom activities for those who wish to enhance student competence and confidence in problem solving and communication, and to share best practices with other teachers.

With each Current PoW, the Math Forum focuses on a particular problem solving strategy or two, along with related communication skill development. In addition, we organize Problem Solving and Communication strategies in a coherent sequence to be studied throughout the year. Each unit contains strategy development activities that can be applied to any problem, and student handouts to help guide students as they learn the strategy. The goal is for students eventually to move between multiple strategies flexibly as they attempt to solve interesting problems.

Professional Development

The Math Forum offers a free online orientation session to get you started with your Problems of the Week membership.

We also offer multiple online professional development courses for developing teacher use of technology in the classroom, mathematical knowledge for teaching, and implementation of a problem-solving and mathematical communication program. In these courses, participants will develop and apply NCTM process standards, explore problem-solving strategies, work on facilitating student thinking, practice formative assessment, and participate in ongoing communities of professionals.

These six-week courses are offered on an ongoing basis through the year, and through them you can earn Continuing Education Units.

 


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