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Math Made Easy: Helping Grade 2 Students Thrive in Problem Solving

Mathematics is an essential subject that students cannot afford to neglect. As early as grade 2, students are introduced to the basics of mathematical concepts such as numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. An essential aspect of mathematics is problem-solving. While many students find it challenging, it can be made easy with the right approach. This article will discuss how parents and educators can turn problem-solving woes into victories and equip their grade 2 students with the skills needed to excel in math.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Problem Solving in Grade 2 Math

Problem-solving is an essential skill that students need to master to excel in math. It involves critical thinking, analysis, and decision-making. It also helps students develop their reasoning abilities and enables them to apply logic in real-life situations. In grade 2 math, problem-solving skills are essential as they help students understand mathematical concepts better. Students who can solve problems are more confident and enjoy math more than those who struggle.

Turning Problem-Solving Woes into Victories

Many students, especially in grade 2, find problem-solving challenging. However, with the right approach, it can be turned into a victory. One way to turn problem-solving woes into victories is by breaking down the problem into smaller parts. Encourage your child to read the problem carefully and identify the key elements. Once they have identified these elements, they can begin to solve the problem step by step. This approach helps students understand the problem better and reduces anxiety.

Another way to turn problem-solving woes into victories is by practicing regularly. The more students practice, the more comfortable they become with problem-solving. Encourage your child to practice regularly and provide them with different types of problems to solve. As they solve more problems, their confidence will increase, and they will become more efficient problem-solvers.

Strategies for Effective Problem Solving in Math

There are several strategies that students can use to solve problems effectively. One of the most effective strategies is the use of visual aids. Encourage your child to draw diagrams or pictures to help them understand the problem better. This approach helps students visualize the problem and enables them to make better decisions.

Another strategy is to use real-life situations to solve problems. This approach helps students understand how math can be applied in real-life situations. For example, if you want to teach your child about fractions, you can use pizza slices to help them understand the concept better.

Lastly, encourage your child to work with a partner or in a group. Group work helps students learn from one another and can be an effective way to solve problems. It also helps students develop their social skills and enables them to work collaboratively.

Fun and Engaging Math Activities for Grade 2 Students

Learning math can be fun and engaging. There are several math activities that parents and educators can use to help grade 2 students develop their problem-solving skills. One such activity is math games. Games such as Sudoku, Math Bingo, and Math Jeopardy can be used to teach students math concepts while making learning fun.

Another activity is math puzzles. Puzzles such as crosswords, word searches, and logic puzzles can be used to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, math stories can be used to teach math concepts while making learning fun. Math stories can be found in storybooks or online, and they provide an interactive way to teach math concepts.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills through Math

Mathematics is an excellent way to develop critical thinking skills. Critical thinking involves analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating information to make informed decisions. In math, critical thinking is essential as it helps students understand mathematical concepts and apply them in real-life situations.

Encourage your child to think critically when solving problems. Teach them to ask questions and to consider different solutions to a problem. Additionally, encourage them to explain their reasoning and to justify their solutions. These skills are essential in problem-solving and can be applied in other areas of their lives.

Providing Support and Encouragement for your Child

Providing support and encouragement is essential when helping your grade 2 child excel in math. Encourage your child to ask questions and to seek help when they need it. Additionally, provide them with a positive learning environment and praise their efforts and progress. Celebrate their successes and encourage them to keep learning and practicing.

Equipping Your Child for Math Success in Grade 2

Mathematics is an essential subject that requires problem-solving skills. By turning problem-solving woes into victories, providing support and encouragement, and using effective strategies and fun activities, parents and educators can help grade 2 students excel in math. With the right approach, learning math can be fun and engaging while developing critical thinking skills that are essential in all areas of life.

2nd Grade Fast Math Success Workbook

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

2nd Grade Fast Math Success Workbook: Math Worksheets Grade 2: Numeration, Addition, Subtraction, Telling Time and More with Answers

  • Comparing Numbers Within 200
  • Ordering Numbers Within 200
  • Skip Counting: Count By 1s and 2s
  • Place Value: Ones, Tens, and Hundreds
  • Addition: 1 through 100
  • Subtraction: 1 through 100
  • Addition: Missing Number – 1 through 100
  • Subtraction: Missing Number – 1 through 100
  • Ordering Numbers – 1 through 1000
  • Comparing Numbers – 1 through 1000
  • Counting: Count by 4 to 6
  • Addition and Subtraction: Double Digit
  • Addition and Subtraction: Missing Number – Double Digit
  • Addition: Triple Addend – 1 through 100
  • Mixed Operations: 1 through 100
  • Write the Numbers Before, After, and Between
  • Addition and Subtraction: 1 through 1000
  • Telling Time
  • Time Passages
  • Addition and Subtraction Games
  • Final Review

MathBear: Math Workbook Grade 2

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

MathBear: Math Workbook Grade 2: 2nd Grade Math Workbook: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Numeration with Answers

Math Practice Workbook Grade 2

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

Math Practice Workbook Grade 2: 3051 Questions to Master Essential Math Skills (Numeration, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Telling Time and More) With Answer Key

  • Circle the Numbers
  • Comparing Numbers
  • Addition: Double Digit
  • Subtraction: Double Digit
  • Addition: Missing Number
  • Subtraction: Missing Number
  • Number Before, After and Between
  • Addition: Triple Digit
  • Subtraction: Triple Digit
  • Basic Multiplication

MathBear: Homeschool Math Workbook Grade 2

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

MathBear: Homeschool Math Workbook Grade 2: 2nd Grade Homeschool Math Practice Workbook: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Place Value with Answers

  • Place Value
  • Commutative Property
  • Addition Games
  • Subtraction Games

MathBear: Math Curriculum Workbook Grade 2

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

MathBear: Math Curriculum Workbook Grade 2: 2nd Grade Math Curriculum: Numeration, Place Value, Addition and Subtraction, Telling Time with Answers

  • Ordering Numbers
  • Number Before, After, or Between
  • Number Lines
  • Place Value: Ones, Tens, Hundreds
  • Subtraction
  • Addition: 3 Addend
  • Introduction to Multiplication
  • Measure the Rectangles
  • Match the Answers

MathBear: Math Practice Grade 2

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

MathBear: Math Practice Grade 2: 2nd Grade Math Practice Workbook: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Place Value, Telling Time, Commutative Property with Answers

MathBear: Math Skills Workbook Grade 2

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

MathBear: Math Skills Workbook Grade 2: 2nd Grade Math Skills Practice Workbook: Addition, Subtraction, Basic Multiplication, Place Value, Math Games, and More With Answers

All Seasons Math Tests Grade 2

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

All Seasons Math Tests Grade 2 (Student's Edition): 100 Math Practice Pages Grade 2: Timed Math Tests: For Classroom and Homeschool

Kids Math Book Ages 6-8

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

Kids Math Book Ages 6-8: Math Practice workbook Grade 1-3: Addition, Subtraction, Place Value, Telling Time

  • Addition Target
  • Subtraction Target
  • Addition Square
  • Ordering Numbers: 1 to 100
  • Addition Table
  • Subtraction Table
  • Addition: Triple Addend
  • Numbers Before, After, and Between
  • What time was and will it be?

Math Workbook Grade 2: Addition and Subtraction

The Summer Math Bridge: A Workbook for Grades 8th to 9th

MathBear: Math Workbook Grade 2: Addition and Subtraction: 2nd Grade Double Digit Addition and Subtraction Workbook with Answers

  • Addition: within 100
  • Subtraction: within 100
  • Basic Addition with Regrouping
  • Basic Subtraction with Regrouping

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Real World Problem Solving in Second Grade Mathematics

Introduction.

Edgewood Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut is an arts magnet school, integrating the arts across the curriculum. Students in this environment are encouraged to use the strategies of observation, interpretation, and analysis to increase their thinking skills in every subject. With that mission, both teachers and students use unique and exciting approaches to “the basics” and work together to ensure that all learners are included.

For most second graders, the beginning of the year is a time for refreshing knowledge and skills from first grade. The summer away from direct instruction and opportunities for practice and guidance sometimes means a loss of solid understanding of learned concepts in mathematics. This three- to four-week unit is designed to review and build new understanding of one-step word problem solving using addition and subtraction as students develop skills and strategies they will use all year. The students, through a series of mathematical scenarios, will use the problem types identified in Table 1 of the Common Core Mathematics Glossary which covers addition and subtraction. 1

The Common Core concentrates on a clear set of math skills and concepts. Students learn concepts in an organized way during the school year as well as across grades. The standards encourage students to solve real-world problems. 2

The Common Core calls for greater focus in mathematics. Rather than racing to cover many topics in a mile-wide, inch-deep curriculum, the standards ask math teachers to significantly narrow and deepen the way time and energy are spent in the classroom. This means focusing sharply on the major work of each grade, which for grades Kindergarten through second grade includes concepts, skills, and problem solving related to addition and subtraction.

The New Haven Public School district uses the Math in Focus Singapore Approach, a Common Core-based curriculum for students from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade. The student books and workbooks follow an instructional pathway that includes learning concepts and skills through visual lessons and teacher instruction for understanding the how and why; consolidating concepts and skills through practice, activities and math journals for deep math understanding, hands-on work in pairs and in small groups; and, applying concepts and skills through extensive problem solving practice and challenges to build real world problem solvers. 3

This approach embeds problem solving throughout each lesson and encourages frequent practice in both computation and problem solving. The word problems appear throughout each chapter and progress from 1-step to 2-step to multi-step. Each chapter concludes with a challenging problem or set of problems that require students to solve some non-routine questions. To solve these problems, the students need to draw on their deep prior knowledge as well as recently acquired concepts and skills, combining problem solving strategies with critical thinking skills, including classifying, comparing, sequencing, identifying parts and whole, identifying patterns and relationships, induction and deduction and spatial visualization.

The second grade text begins with numbers to 1000. Students begin by expressing numbers in standard form (231), expanded form (200 + 30 + 1), and word form (two hundred thirty-one). This is accompanied by concrete representations via base ten blocks, and, for two digit numbers and a few three digit numbers, representation by trains of rods, of lengths 1, 10 and 100. This initial chapter also includes sequencing numbers and comparing using greater than and less than terminology, and then moving right into addition and subtraction of two- and three-digits numbers. Here the take-away should be, if you have more hundreds, the tens and ones don’t make any/much difference; and if you have the same number of hundreds, but more tens, then the ones don’t make any/much difference. Most of my students (if not all) struggle from the start! They do not seem to have a solid foundation of understanding numbers to 100 or the concept of place value in general. This unit is designed to get ahead of the frustration that the students feel when pushed too quickly before they have a firm understanding of principles of place value and the properties of operations.

This unit launches the school year with 1-step addition and subtraction problems of all types using numbers to 10. The goal is to spend time practicing basic computations with numbers that student can work comfortably with before jumping right into the district curriculum. Once there is a level of understanding with these problem sets (numbers to 10), students will move on to solving 1-step problems using teen numbers and then onto numbers to 100. Most of the curriculum problems at the start of the year require addition and subtraction of 3-digit numbers. Some students will move quickly through the problem sets with numbers to 100 and will be ready to work with the regular curriculum.

For the duration of the unit, the focus will be steadily on solving and later constructing a collection of word problems that provide robust and balanced practice. Problems sets will be based on a scenario which will provide the substance of the story. Each scenario will allow us to extract several problems, changing the numbers and ensuring each set of numbers makes a reasonable problem. This idea looks like the following: John has 8 crayons in his box. He shares 3 with Sam. How many crayons does John have left in the box? John has some crayons in his box. He shares 3 with Sam. John has 5 crayons left in his box. How many crayons did John start with? John has 5 crayons. Sam has 2 fewer than John. How many crayons does Sam have? John and Sam are sharing crayons. John has 5 and Sam has 3. How many crayons do the friends have together? The two students participate in several crayon-sharing stories that use the same set of numbers but in slightly different situations. Some situations are more obvious and direct while others take more thinking. It is important to provide opportunities for students to work with and solve the different problem types that can be created from one set of numbers. 4

Background: Problem Types

The taxonomy of addition and subtraction problem types as identified in the Common Core State Standards of Mathematics Glossary is a framework that sorts one-step problems into three broad classes: change , comparison , and part-part-whole . Each of the three classes is then separated further into a total of 14 problem types sorted out as follows: change , in which some quantity is either added to or taken away from another quantity over time; comparison , in which one amount is described as more or less than another amount; and part-part-whole , in which an amount is made up of two parts. 5

Within the group of change problems, there are two subgroups: change-increase , in which a quantity is added to an initial amount and change-decrease , in which a quantity is taken from an initial amount. We might recognize these subgroups more familiarly as “add to” or “take from.” Additionally within each of these subgroups, there are three possible unknown quantities. One scenario to show change-increase : 2 kittens were playing with some yarn. 3 more kittens join them. Now there are 5 kittens playing with the yarn. Using these quantities, the unknown might be the result (2 + 3 = ?), an unknown quantity of change (2 + ? = 5) or an unknown initial amount (? + 3 = 5). In the change-decrease subgroup, there are again three possible unknowns. A scenario for this example: 5 birds are sitting on the branch. 2 fly away. Now there are 3 birds sitting on the branch. Here again the students might solve for the final amount (5 – 2 = ?), the amount of change (5 - ? = 3), or the initial amount (? – 2 = 3). This gives in all six types of change problems.

Similarly comparison problems can also be categorized into two subgroups: comparison-more , in which one quantity is described as more or greater than another, and comparison-less, in which one quantity is described as less or fewer than another. Here again, each of these two subgroups has three possible unknowns, for a total of 6 types. Sam has 6 marbles. James has 8 marbles. James has 2 more marbles than Sam. The unknown quantity may be the lesser amount (? + 2 = 8), an unknown greater amount

(6 + 2 = ?), or the unknown difference (8 – 6 = ?) one quantity that is more and one that is less. Using this same scenario for a set of comparison-less problems, the language need to change from “more than” to “less than.” Here is a way to present this set with the language adjustment: Sam has 6 marbles. James has 8 marbles. Sam has 2 fewer marbles than James.

Part-part-whole problems are a set of two quantities, the parts that, when put together, make up a whole quantity.  This problem type seems very like to change category but in this problem type there is no change over time. The two parts play equivalent roles, which allow for only two possible unknown categories: either a part is unknown or the whole is the unknown. There are 4 large dogs and 3 small dogs. There are 7 dogs in all. One of the parts may be unknown (4 + ? = 7 or ? + 3 = 7) or the unknown may be the size of the whole (4 + 3 = ?). Since the parts are interchangeable, there are only 2 types in this class of problems.

The following chart sort these classes and categories into the framework. Located in Appendix A of this unit is a set of example problems illustrating each of these 14 types.

The Scenarios of the Problems

For second graders, life at school is a large part of their world. Most of my students arrived at Edgewood for their Kindergarten year and stayed through First Grade making the year in second grade essentially their third year at the same school. They are comfortable in the building and know many of the other students. They will become the active players in the math stories that I, and we together, will construct. Activities that occur in the classroom, in the cafeteria, on the playground, and on the bus seem to be recognizable situations that will help with the basic understanding of context.

Additionally, there are opportunities for students to incorporate the topics and learning that occur in the other subjects, such as science, social studies, literacy, art, music and, in our school, dance and drama. One example might be to create set of story problems centered on the life cycle of the butterfly, a unit of study each year in second grade. With the common knowledge the students will be obtaining, this content could become the scenarios for word problems. An example might be: Seven caterpillars climbed up the branch and formed their chrysalises. Later that day, three more caterpillars climbed up the branch and formed their chrysalises. How many chrysalises are hanging from the branch? Similarly, using the characters in a book read together as a class could provide the characters in a new set of problems. Curious George had a bunch of bananas. He ate 4 of them. Now he has 3. How many bananas did Curious George begin with? The use of common or thematic content will not only connect all the thinking and practicing, it will provide tangible and real situations. With an established scenario, students will work with a set of numbers, determining the unknown within each of problems types.

Creating the Problems

A question that is frequently answered with a guess is “What should we do to answer the question to solve the word problem?” The fundamental understanding of what is being asked is not apparent to the students, making the solution inaccessible. Most first graders entering second grade have a basic understanding when the story (problem) is categorized as final unknown or whole unknown , but most other components of the taxonomy are unfamiliar to them or just too difficult to decode. To begin to help them with their thinking, they will use concrete models, such as themselves (2 children are sitting at the reading table, 4 more join them) acting out scenarios. Many basic materials in the classroom – pencils, notebooks, folders, crayons – can be used to create and design scenarios, with each type of problem represented.

Solving the Problems

Following the overall plan of the Singapore Math program, the students will solve problems using the concrete, pictorial and abstract approach. Because this is a standard approach in our district mathematics instruction throughout the year, the students will begin with this set of strategies to solve problem sets.

Word problems are written as stories and scenarios making language a consideration in crafting the problems for the beginning second graders. Word problems are as much about language and reading as they are about math. If the story is not understandable, how can students begin the know what to do with the numbers they’ve been given and the question they’ve been asked? Thus, words and vocabulary need to be appropriate and useful for the variety of reading levels of the incoming students.  The structure of word problems should be understandable and clear, accessible in language as well as numbers. Also, the language, especially the words that express the relationship between the quantities involved, should be discussed to ensure that it is familiar to all students.

This is a clear integration of Language Arts and Mathematics and a method in which students can connect math to the real world, in this case, through the activities they engage in at school. Reading skills and computation skills come together with even the simplest of word problems.

Structure of Problem Collection

The content introduction over the duration of this unit includes a certain sequencing and scaffolding to guide students through the 14 problem types. To begin the unit, students will only be working with numbers to 10. This is an important starting place to ensure that understanding is occurring. Most of my second graders are capable with addition and subtraction to 10, but are not so comfortable with the word problem language. So first, students will be challenged more by the language than the arithmetic. Students will practice figuring out what exactly the problems are asking with problems that they are familiar with before moving on to a new step. Practicing all the problem types will improve and increase strategies and confidence!

With addition and subtraction within 10 mastered, the next phase of the unit moves to numbers to 20. The key is to continue with scenarios that are obvious and repeated as new numbers are introduced. An example of this transition would be these parallel problems:

6 students got on the bus at the first stop. 3 students got on the bus at the second   stop. After the second stop, how many students are on the bus? ( change-increase, final unknown)

Some students got on the bus at the first stop. 3 students got on the bus at the second stop. Now there are 9 students on the bus. How many students got on at the first stop? ( change-increase, initial unknown)

These now become:

11 students got on the bus at the first stop. 7 students got on the bus at the second stop. After the second stop, how many students are on the bus? ( change-increase, final unknown)

Some students got on the bus at the first stop. 7 students got on the bus at the second stop. Now there are 18 students on the bus. How many students got on at   the first stop? ( change-increase, initial unknown)

When working with numbers to 20, it is essential that students understand that the “teen” numbers (11-19) are really 10 and some ones. Students should work with numbers within 20, creating equations using their knowledge and skill of making a ten first. In the case of 7 + 6, making a new ten looks like this:

7 + 6 = 7 + 3 + 3 = 10 + 3 = 13

Because 7 needs a 3 to make ten, and 6 is composed of 3 + 3, this equation shows the progression of making 10 and some more. Practicing this method using two ten frames demonstrates the process concretely. In the example above, students use the ten-frames to show 7 and 6 separately. To make the new 10, students will move 3 from the 6, which now shows 10 and 3 more or 13.

As mentioned earlier, it is obvious that the most accessible problem types for students entering the second grade are the change-increase or change-decrease, result unknown and part-part-whole, whole unknown. The general go-to strategy for solving a word problem seems to be to just take the two numbers you see and add them together, or maybe subtract, but often the students are just unsure. It seems that these are the most practiced problem types, which leaves students without balanced experience with all 14 types and ultimately without some strategies to employ as they problem-solve. Students need to see a broad range of problems to gain a strong understanding of how addition and subtraction are used and how they are related to each other. The notion of example sufficiency means students should be exposed to a wide array of examples to provide well-rounded practice with the concept. 6

Teaching Strategies

The approaches for this curriculum unit vary to reflect the learning styles of all students.

The general format is based on the workshop model. The concepts and skills are taught through a series of mini-lessons focused on the objective with the following methods used throughout:

Experiential Learning: Most young students need to begin with hands-on learning. Using concrete models to work out math stories allows students to see the problem and manipulate the pieces as the story progresses. This type of learning is an important first step.

Differentiated Instruction: Lessons and activities will be targeted to maximize learning. The students will use a variety of approaches, working sometimes individually and sometimes in small groups, determined by the complexity of the work. Some students will move more quickly as they master skills and some will need more opportunities for practice.

Cooperative Learning: The students will be given opportunities to work as cooperative groups to create math stories to present to the class. This strategy will allow students to work collaboratively taking on various roles necessary to complete the work, with a focus on success for all.

Classroom Activities

Activity 1: sequenced problem types – problems to 10.

The introduction (and review) portion of the unit covers all problem types but in a sequenced manner. The objective is for students to read and interpret a word problem with guided instruction followed by independent practice. Because of the many problem types, this part will take several days of review and practice before students are comfortable beginning to write their own sets of problems. Based on student need and pace of understanding, I expect this section to be a four- to six-day set of lessons, more if needed.

The sequence is as follows: part-part-whole ; change-increase and change-decrease ; and finally, compare-greater and compare-fewer . The following introductory sessions are designed as a whole group activity, with students either at their desks or gathered on the rug close to the board or easel. The whole group portion should be 20 minutes at most. At the close of each session, I will give students between 5 and 10 similar problems to solve. More capable students can begin to generate their own problems during the independent work time.

Beginning with the fundamentals provides a good opportunity to get to know students’ skills which is helpful in preparing differentiated work and creating groups,

In this lesson, students will interpret real world problems and with the help of manipulatives and pictures, solve part-part-whole stories using addition and subtraction.

6 girls are playing

3 boys are playing with them.

How many children are playing in all?

Begin the story with the whole unknown as in this example. This type of story is perfect for students to act out right in the classroom. Write the story on the board or chart paper and have students volunteer as actors. Once the students have solved the problem, write the math sentence to show what happened: 6 + 3 = 9 students. Explain that the 2 parts (boys and girls) have made a whole (children). With the students still in acting position, present a new approach to this scenario:

9 students are playing.

6 of them are girls.

How many boys are playing?

With this visual example, students should see right away how many. The important concept to demonstrate is that the parts can be determined when the whole and one part are known, in this case 9 is known as the whole and 6 as one part. Again, write the math sentence to show this calculation: 6 + ? = 9 and include the strategy of starting with the whole to determine the missing part as a subtraction sentence 9 – 6 = 3. Practicing both approaches to the solution will help students connect addition and subtraction and recognize how they are used together.

Since this lesson requires students to read story problems, I will pair fluent readers with those who are less fluent, provide counters for those who want them, and allow partners to work together to solve and problems and share the strategies that they used.

I will use two more examples, like the ones below, to demonstrate, remembering to write the word problem on the board as well as the math sentence. I will also reword the problems to have the part as the unknown.

Hannah has 5 red markers.

She has 3 blue markers

How many markers does Hannah have in all?

7 students are drawing with crayons.

2 students are drawing with colored pencils.

How many students are drawing?

Continuing with this same idea, the next set of problem types includes change-increase and change-decrease . Although part-part-whole is language that students can adopt and use while discussing their work, the change-increase and change decrease language is a bit trickier. The use of the word change is more appropriate for students to demonstrate that some amount has been either added or subtracted from an initial amount.

Introduce the word problem below which is an example of the unknown result in the change-increase category.

Jason had 8 “caught being good” stickers on his chart at the beginning of the day.

During the school day, he earned 2 more stickers.

How many stickers does Jason have on his chart at the end of the day?

Student can solve the problem as written and, using the same scenario, challenge them to create the change-unknown and initial unknown story. One example might be:

Jason had some “caught being good” stickers on his chart at the

beginning of the day.

At the end of the day, he has 10 stickers.

How many stickers did Jason have at the beginning of the day?

This is an oral activity, with me writing the adjusted version across the board, placing the math sentence underneath. It is important to allow students to work on composing the problem so they can begin the see the relationship between the problems and what the problems are asking.

The goal is for students to understand and not just solve. I can informally assess during the discussion of rewriting the text of the word problem, with more formal assessment later in the unit.

The next category to introduce is the change-decrease problem types. Following the same format as before, I will introduce the result unknown, change unknown and then initial unknown.

Crystal collected 7 leaves for her project.

2 leaves blew away in the breeze.

How many leaves does Crystal have left for her project?

Again, the goal is for students to understand and not just solve.

The third broad class, compare, is more difficult for my 2 nd grade students. This requires the text of the word problems to be very straight-forward. Students should not get tangled up when they are learning to take the data from the problem. Remember that using the exact terminology is not the goal, but rather understanding what the problem is asking. Here are three ways I will present a scenario that shows the problem types comparison-more , and three ways to show comparison-less. Students need to be exposed to and have opportunities to practice all types. Of course, not all of these examples should be used at one time. As I write the problems out on chart paper and post them in the classroom, the students can begin to see and do their own comparing and contrasting as one scenario is explained in different ways. The use of the words “more” and “fewer” should be highlighted and explained as the problem set is introduced and worked on. My role here is to let the students begin to notice the subtle differences in the wording and how it changes the thinking. Simpler is better to start with!

Throughout these introductory sessions, the students and I will brainstorm scenarios that can eventually be used in own word problems. Ideas should generate from school activities and materials, guiding students to think of what students can actually use for manipulatives or, as in the first scenario, be able to act out to solve. By keeping a list of ideas on chart paper as reference material, students won’t struggle with vocabulary or appropriate scenarios; they will be on to the task of crafting their problems. This list will prepare the students for the second part of the unit.

Activity 2: Classroom / school scenarios

As stated earlier, words and vocabulary should be accessible to students and not a challenge or hurdle. The goal is to get to the thinking of the stories and plugging in the information that was gathered during the brainstorming session. To begin this portion, review the charts and add more if students have new ideas. It may be helpful for the purposes of composing word problems to have the information in categories, such as these:

Materials We Use

Classes We Attend

Activities at School

Classmate’s Names

I will create groups of two or three students to have them write problems of their own to share with the class.  Since this lesson requires students to read and write story problems, again, fluent readers and writers with those who are less fluent, provide counters for those who want them, and allow partners to work together to solve and problems and share the strategies that they used.

The goal during this period of time is to challenge students to write the same problem but try it another way, choose a different type as they tell the story. The timing for the student groups to work together will be during arrival time as morning work and during the math workshop portion of math instruction time. This will allow students to work as much as 30 minutes per day with their partners to create some math stories.

I will stress that it is important to keep their collection together as much of their work will become part of the workbook they will create at the end of this unit. Folders and math journals can be helpful, or my collecting the work-in-progress daily is another option.

Activity 3: Science Scenarios

The first unit in 2 nd grade science is investigation and research on the life cycle of the butterfly. Students receive caterpillars at the start of the semester and observe and record the changes the caterpillar’s life. The work that the students do during their science lessons can become the information and scenarios they can use for crafting word problems.

Using all different problem types, we will write several together as a class.  This is an additional opportunity to integrate math very specifically into our science research and work. It is important for students to recognize that, although their learning has been compartmentalized into subject areas, it is essentially impossible to separate it all out into categories. So this portion of the unit uses math, science and reading to help students learn about the life cycle of a butterfly (and other animals as well).

Students will create problem sets that use their daily experiences tracking their caterpillars. Each student has 2-3 caterpillars to observe and record information on, which can become the start of word problems. Examples to start: If Table 3 has 8 caterpillars and 2 caterpillars join that group, how many caterpillars are being observed at Table 3? Here are 28 students in the class. Each student need one cup of caterpillar food.  There are 30 cups of caterpillar food. How many more cups of food are there than students?

There are often students who have great interest in other areas of science. This is an area to encourage if students are excited about sharing their knowledge. Some students will be more inclined to use the unit of study going on in class, but throughout the literacy portion of the day, students are exposed to a great deal of non-fiction, or informational text, that could certainly enrich our science word problems.

Throughout the duration of the science unit, students will continue to write word problems of various types to eventually include in our final project, the workbook. These problems can be written during the morning work session, during math workshop, and at the end of science class. By the end of the unit, each student should have two problems to add to the Science chapter of the workbook.

Activity 4: Creation of Workbook / Publishing Celebration

The goal of this portion of the unit is to sort the word problems into “chapters” and create a workbook to share at the Publication Celebration. Chapters will be titled by subject or category, depending on student choice and teacher suggestion. Ideas include Beginning Stories, Classroom Activities, Playground Fun, Science & Math, and Social Studies Connections. Let students be creative with titles!

Students will submit their work which will include at least one word problem for each chapter. They must also submit the solutions to their problems so that they can be included in an answer key. Each chapter will have at least 25 problems, with examples of all types and with varying levels of difficulty. Word problems can either be typed or hand-written for the final workbook, depending on what the students decide as a class. One workbook per student will need to be copied and bound in some manner for the Celebration.

Two weeks before the Publication Celebration, students will create an invitation to give to their family and friends, inviting them to come for a “Celebration of Problem Solving.” Parents and other VIP guests will spend some time working on word problems, moving around the room, visiting many students. The students will share their own specific work with the guests (the word problems they themselves created) and “help” their visitors figure out the answers.

Each student will have a “Comments” sheet for guests to sign and leave comments on their experience working with the student. I will encourage visitors to stop to talk with each student or as many as they can during their visit.

Additionally, this is an opportunity to have some students work as editors and publishers. Creating the workbook will require review and assembly time and these tasks can be delegated and shared by the students who are interested.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics,

http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/mathematics.

Fong, Ho Kheong. Math in Focus Singapore Math by Marshall Cavendish . Final ed. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Education, 2015.

Fuson, Karen C. Math Expressions . 2011 ed. Orlando, FL: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ;, 2011.

Howe, Roger. Three Pillars of First Grade Mathematics and Beyond

Howe, Roger, The Most Important Thing for Your Child to Learn about Arithmetic

Howe, Roger and Harold Reiter, The Five Stages of Place Value

Ma, L. Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics , Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ, 1999.

The Moscow Puzzles: 359 Mathematical Recreations . New York: Dover Publications, 1992.

Polya, George. How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method . New Princeton Science Library ed., 2014.

Appendix A: Problem Set

Change Increase / Result Unknown

7 students are in the classroom. 2 more students join them. How many students are in the classroom now?

Change Increase / Change Unknown

7 students are in the classroom. Some more students join them. Then there were 9 students. How many students join the first 7?

Change Increase / Initial Unknown

Some students are in the classroom. 2 more students joined them. Then there were 9 students. How many students were in the classroom at the beginning?

Change Decrease / Result Unknown

9 students were in the classroom. 2 students went home. How many students are in the classroom now?

Change Decrease / Change Unknown

9 students were in the classroom. Some students went home. Now there are 7 students. How many students went home?

Change Decrease / Initial Unknown

Some students were in the classroom. 2 students went home. Then there were 7 students in the classroom. How many students were in the classroom in the beginning?

Compare More / Difference Unknown

Sam has 10 French fries. Emily has 6 French fries. How many more does Sam have than Emily?

Compare More / Greater Unknown

Sam has 4 more French fries than Emily. Emily has 6 French fries. How many French fries does Sam have?

Compare More / Smaller Unknown

Sam has 4 more French fries than Emily. Sam has 10 French fries. How many French fries does Emily have?

Compare Fewer / Difference Unknown

Sam has 10 French fries. Emily has 6 French fries. How many fewer does Emily have than Sam?

Compare Fewer / Smaller Unknown

Emily has 4 fewer French fries than Sam. Sam has 10 French fries. How many French fries doe Emily have?

Compare Fewer / Greater Unknown

Emily has 4 fewer French fries than Sam. Emily has 6 French fries. How many French fries does Sam have?

Part-Part-Whole / Whole Unknown

Sam has 4 cookies for lunch. He has 2 more for dinner. How many cookies does Sam have?

Sam ate 6 cookies today. He had 4 of them for lunch. How many did he have for dinner?

Appendix B – Implementing Common Core Standards

This unit integrates, quite naturally, literacy and math. Both reading and writing are essential parts of the students’ ability to solve word problems involving both addition and subtraction.

Students will work most specifically toward the Common Core State Standard in Mathematics, 2.OA.A.1 which states that second graders should, by the end of the year, be able to “represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction within 100 to solve one- step word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions. During this unit students will begin solving and crafting word problems with numbers to 10, advance to numbers to 20 and continue on to the 100’s and up to 1000 as they master place value concepts.

This unit also addresses the Language Arts Common Core State Standards of Reading Informational Text, RI.2.1, in which students work on locating key ideas and details by asking and answering such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text. Throughout this unit on word problems, students will be working asking these questions as they determine what information the math story is providing. As they begin to write their own word problems, they will need to consider these questions to craft a meaningful story for the text of their problem.

  • Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/mathematics.
  • Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
  • Ho Kheong Fong, Math in Focus Singapore Math by Marshall Cavendish , 8.
  • Roger Howe, Three Pillars of First Grade Mathematics and Beyond, 2 .
  • Roger Howe, Three Pillars of First Grade Mathematics and Beyond, 1 . Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
  • Roger Howe, Three Pillars of First Grade Mathematics and Beyond, 2

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6 Tips for Teaching Math Problem-Solving Skills

Solving word problems is tougher than computing with numbers, but elementary teachers can guide students to do the deep thinking involved.

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A growing concern with students is the ability to problem-solve, especially with complex, multistep problems. Data shows that students struggle more when solving word problems than they do with computation , and so problem-solving should be considered separately from computation. Why?

Consider this. When we’re on the way to a new destination and we plug in our location to a map on our phone, it tells us what lane to be in and takes us around any detours or collisions, sometimes even buzzing our watch to remind us to turn. When I experience this as a driver, I don’t have to do the thinking. I can think about what I’m going to cook for dinner, not paying much attention to my surroundings other than to follow those directions. If I were to be asked to go there again, I wouldn’t be able to remember, and I would again seek help.

If we can switch to giving students strategies that require them to think instead of giving them too much support throughout the journey to the answer, we may be able to give them the ability to learn the skills to read a map and have several ways to get there.

Here are six ways we can start letting students do this thinking so that they can go through rigorous problem-solving again and again, paving their own way to the solution. 

1. Link problem-solving to reading

When we can remind students that they already have many comprehension skills and strategies they can easily use in math problem-solving, it can ease the anxiety surrounding the math problem. For example, providing them with strategies to practice, such as visualizing, acting out the problem with math tools like counters or base 10 blocks, drawing a quick sketch of the problem, retelling the story in their own words, etc., can really help them to utilize the skills they already have to make the task less daunting.

We can break these skills into specific short lessons so students have a bank of strategies to try on their own. Here's an example of an anchor chart that they can use for visualizing . Breaking up comprehension into specific skills can increase student independence and help teachers to be much more targeted in their problem-solving instruction. This allows students to build confidence and break down the barriers between reading and math to see they already have so many strengths that are transferable to all problems.

2. Avoid boxing students into choosing a specific operation

It can be so tempting to tell students to look for certain words that might mean a certain operation. This might even be thoroughly successful in kindergarten and first grade, but just like when our map tells us where to go, that limits students from becoming deep thinkers. It also expires once they get into the upper grades, where those words could be in a problem multiple times, creating more confusion when students are trying to follow a rule that may not exist in every problem.

We can encourage a variety of ways to solve problems instead of choosing the operation first. In first grade, a problem might say, “Joceline has 13 stuffed animals and Jordan has 17. How many more does Jordan have?” Some students might choose to subtract, but a lot of students might just count to find the amount in between. If we tell them that “how many more” means to subtract, we’re taking the thinking out of the problem altogether, allowing them to go on autopilot without truly solving the problem or using their comprehension skills to visualize it. 

3. Revisit ‘representation’

The word “representation” can be misleading. It seems like something to do after the process of solving. When students think they have to go straight to solving, they may not realize that they need a step in between to be able to support their understanding of what’s actually happening in the problem first.

Using an anchor chart like one of these ( lower grade , upper grade ) can help students to choose a representation that most closely matches what they’re visualizing in their mind. Once they sketch it out, it can give them a clearer picture of different ways they could solve the problem.

Think about this problem: “Varush went on a trip with his family to his grandmother’s house. It was 710 miles away. On the way there, three people took turns driving. His mom drove 214 miles. His dad drove 358 miles. His older sister drove the rest. How many miles did his sister drive?”

If we were to show this student the anchor chart, they would probably choose a number line or a strip diagram to help them understand what’s happening.

If we tell students they must always draw base 10 blocks in a place value chart, that doesn’t necessarily match the concept of this problem. When we ask students to match our way of thinking, we rob them of critical thinking practice and sometimes confuse them in the process. 

4. Give time to process

Sometimes as educators, we can feel rushed to get to everyone and everything that’s required. When solving a complex problem, students need time to just sit with a problem and wrestle with it, maybe even leaving it and coming back to it after a period of time.

This might mean we need to give them fewer problems but go deeper with those problems we give them. We can also speed up processing time when we allow for collaboration and talk time with peers on problem-solving tasks. 

5. Ask questions that let Students do the thinking

Questions or prompts during problem-solving should be very open-ended to promote thinking. Telling a student to reread the problem or to think about what tools or resources would help them solve it is a way to get them to try something new but not take over their thinking.

These skills are also transferable across content, and students will be reminded, “Good readers and mathematicians reread.” 

6. Spiral concepts so students frequently use problem-solving skills

When students don’t have to switch gears in between concepts, they’re not truly using deep problem-solving skills. They already kind of know what operation it might be or that it’s something they have at the forefront of their mind from recent learning. Being intentional within their learning stations and assessments about having a variety of rigorous problem-solving skills will refine their critical thinking abilities while building more and more resilience throughout the school year as they retain content learning in the process. 

Problem-solving skills are so abstract, and it can be tough to pinpoint exactly what students need. Sometimes we have to go slow to go fast. Slowing down and helping students have tools when they get stuck and enabling them to be critical thinkers will prepare them for life and allow them multiple ways to get to their own destination.

Center for Teaching

Teaching problem solving.

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Tips and Techniques

Expert vs. novice problem solvers, communicate.

  • Have students  identify specific problems, difficulties, or confusions . Don’t waste time working through problems that students already understand.
  • If students are unable to articulate their concerns, determine where they are having trouble by  asking them to identify the specific concepts or principles associated with the problem.
  • In a one-on-one tutoring session, ask the student to  work his/her problem out loud . This slows down the thinking process, making it more accurate and allowing you to access understanding.
  • When working with larger groups you can ask students to provide a written “two-column solution.” Have students write up their solution to a problem by putting all their calculations in one column and all of their reasoning (in complete sentences) in the other column. This helps them to think critically about their own problem solving and helps you to more easily identify where they may be having problems. Two-Column Solution (Math) Two-Column Solution (Physics)

Encourage Independence

  • Model the problem solving process rather than just giving students the answer. As you work through the problem, consider how a novice might struggle with the concepts and make your thinking clear
  • Have students work through problems on their own. Ask directing questions or give helpful suggestions, but  provide only minimal assistance and only when needed to overcome obstacles.
  • Don’t fear  group work ! Students can frequently help each other, and talking about a problem helps them think more critically about the steps needed to solve the problem. Additionally, group work helps students realize that problems often have multiple solution strategies, some that might be more effective than others

Be sensitive

  • Frequently, when working problems, students are unsure of themselves. This lack of confidence may hamper their learning. It is important to recognize this when students come to us for help, and to give each student some feeling of mastery. Do this by providing  positive reinforcement to let students know when they have mastered a new concept or skill.

Encourage Thoroughness and Patience

  • Try to communicate that  the process is more important than the answer so that the student learns that it is OK to not have an instant solution. This is learned through your acceptance of his/her pace of doing things, through your refusal to let anxiety pressure you into giving the right answer, and through your example of problem solving through a step-by step process.

Experts (teachers) in a particular field are often so fluent in solving problems from that field that they can find it difficult to articulate the problem solving principles and strategies they use to novices (students) in their field because these principles and strategies are second nature to the expert. To teach students problem solving skills,  a teacher should be aware of principles and strategies of good problem solving in his or her discipline .

The mathematician George Polya captured the problem solving principles and strategies he used in his discipline in the book  How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method (Princeton University Press, 1957). The book includes  a summary of Polya’s problem solving heuristic as well as advice on the teaching of problem solving.

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Elementary teachers’ experience of engaging with Teaching Through Problem Solving using Lesson Study

  • Original Article
  • Published: 13 May 2022
  • Volume 35 , pages 901–927, ( 2023 )

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teaching through problems worth solving grade 2

  • Mairéad Hourigan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6895-1895 1 &
  • Aisling M. Leavy   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1816-0091 1  

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For many decades, problem solving has been a focus of elementary mathematics education reforms. Despite this, in many education systems, the prevalent approach to mathematics problem solving treats it as an isolated activity instead of an integral part of teaching and learning. In this study, two mathematics teacher educators introduced 19 Irish elementary teachers to an alternative problem solving approach, namely Teaching Through Problem Solving (TTP), using Lesson Study (LS) as the professional development model. The findings suggest that the opportunity to experience TTP first-hand within their schools supported teachers in appreciating the affordances of various TTP practices. In particular, teachers reported changes in their beliefs regarding problem solving practice alongside developing problem posing knowledge. Of particular note was teachers’ contention that engaging with TTP practices through LS facilitated them to appreciate their students’ problem solving potential to the fullest extent. However, the planning implications of the TTP approach presented as a persistent barrier.

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Learning to Teach Mathematics Through Problem Solving

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Introduction

A fundamental goal of mathematics education is to develop students’ ability to engage in mathematical problem solving. Despite curricular emphasis internationally on problem solving, many teachers are uncertain how to harness students’ problem solving potential (Cheeseman, 2018 ). While many problem solving programmes focus on providing students with step-by-step supports through modelling, heuristics, and other structures (Polya, 1957 ), Goldenberg et al. ( 2001 ) suggest that the most effective approach to developing students’ problem solving ability is by providing them with frequent opportunities over a prolonged period to solve worthwhile open-ended problems that are challenging yet accessible to all. This viewpoint is in close alignment with reform mathematics perspectives that promote conceptual understanding, where students actively construct their knowledge and relate new ideas to prior knowledge, creating a web of connected knowledge (Hiebert, 2003 ; Lester, 2013 ; Takahashi, 2006 ; Watanabe, 2001 ).

There is consensus in the mathematics education community that problem solving should not be taught as an isolated topic focused solely on developing problem solving skills and strategies or presented as an end-of-chapter activity (Takahashi, 2006 , 2016 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ). Instead, problem solving should be integrated across the curriculum as a fundamental part of mathematics teaching and learning (Cai & Lester, 2010 ; Takahashi, 2016 ).

A ‘Teaching Through Problem Solving’ (TTP) approach, a problem solving style of instruction that originated in elementary education in Japan, meets these criteria treating problem solving as a core practice rather than an ‘add-on’ to mathematics instruction.

Teaching Through Problem Solving (TTP)

Teaching Through Problem Solving (TTP) is considered a powerful means of promoting mathematical understanding as a by-product of solving problems, where the teacher presents students with a specially designed problem that targets certain mathematics content (Stacey, 2018 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ). The lesson implementation starts with the teacher presenting a problem and ensuring that students understand what is required. Students then solve the problem either individually or in groups, inventing their approaches. At this stage, the teacher does not model or suggest a solution procedure. Instead, they take on the role of facilitator, providing support to students only at the right time (Hiebert, 2003 ; Lester, 2013 ; Takahashi, 2006 ). As students solve the problem, the teacher circulates, observes the range of student strategies, and identifies work that illustrates desired features. However, the problem solving lesson does not end when the students find a solution. The subsequent sharing phase, called Neriage (polishing ideas), is considered by Japanese teachers to be the heart of the lesson rather than its culmination. During Neriage, the teacher purposefully selects students to share their strategies, compares various approaches, and introduces increasingly sophisticated solution methods. Effective questioning is central to this process, alongside careful recording of the multiple solutions on the board. The teacher concludes the lesson by formalising and consolidating the lesson’s main points. This process promotes learning for all students (Hiebert, 2003 ; Stacey, 2018 ; Takahashi, 2016 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ; Watanabe, 2001 ).

The TTP approach assumes that students develop, extend, and enrich their understandings as they confront problematic situations using existing knowledge. Therefore, TTP fosters the symbiotic relationship between conceptual understanding and problem solving, as conceptual understanding is required to solve challenging problems and make sense of new ideas by connecting them with existing knowledge. Equally, problem solving promotes conceptual understanding through the active construction of knowledge (Hiebert, 2003 ; Lambdin, 2003 ; Takahashi, 2006 ). Consequently, students simultaneously develop more profound understandings of the mathematics content while cultivating problem solving skills (Kapur, 2010 ; Stacey, 2018 ).

Relevant research affirms that teachers acknowledge the merits of this approach (Sullivan et al., 2014 ) and most students report positive experiences (Russo & Minas, 2020 ). The process is considered to make students’ thinking and learning visible (Ingram et al., 2020 ). Engagement in TTP has resulted in teachers becoming more aware of and confident in their students’ problem solving abilities and subsequently expecting more from them (Crespo & Featherstone, 2006 ; Sakshaug & Wohlhuter, 2010 ).

Demands of TTP

Adopting a TTP approach challenges pre-existing beliefs and poses additional knowledge demands for elementary teachers, both content and pedagogical (Takahashi, 2008 ).

Research has consistently reported a relationship between teacher beliefs and the instructional techniques used, with evidence of more rule-based, teacher-directed strategies used by teachers with traditional mathematics beliefs (Stipek et al., 2001 ; Swan, 2006 ; Thompson, 1985 ). These teachers tend to address problem solving separately from concept and skill development and possess a simplistic view of problem solving as translating a problem into abstract mathematical terms to solve it. Consequently, such teachers ‘are very concerned about developing skilfulness in translating (so-called) real-world problems into mathematical representations and vice versa’ (Lester, 2013 , p. 254). Early studies of problem solving practice reported direct instructional techniques where the teacher would model how to solve the problem followed by students practicing similar problems (Chapman, 2015 ; Hiebert, 2003 ; Lester, 2013 ). This naïve conception of problem solving is reflected in many textbook problems that simply require students to apply previously learned routine procedures to solve problems that are merely thinly disguised number operations (Lester, 2013 ; Singer & Voica, 2013 ). Hence, the TTP approach requires a significant shift for teachers who previously considered problem solving as an extra activity conducted after the new mathematics concepts are introduced (Lester, 2013 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ) or whose personal experience of problem solving was confined to applying routine procedures to word problems (Sakshaug &Wohlhuter, 2010 ).

Alongside beliefs, teachers’ knowledge influences their problem solving practices. Teachers require a deep understanding of the nature of problem solving, in particular viewing problem solving as a process (Chapman, 2015 ). To be able to understand the stages problem solvers go through and appreciate what successful problem solving involves, teachers benefit from experiencing solving problems from the problem solver’s perspective (Chapman, 2015 ; Lester, 2013 ).

It is also essential that teachers understand what constitutes a worthwhile problem when selecting or posing problems (Cai, 2003 ; Chapman, 2015 ; Lester, 2013 ; O’Shea & Leavy, 2013 ). This requires an understanding that problems are ‘mathematical tasks for which the student does not have an obvious way to solve it’ (Chapman, 2015 , p. 22). Teachers need to appreciate the variety of problem characteristics that contribute to the richness of a problem, e.g. problem structures and cognitive demand (Klein & Leiken, 2020 ; O’Shea & Leavy, 2013 ). Such understandings are extensive, and rather than invest heavily in the time taken to construct their mathematics problems, teachers use pre-made textbook problems or make cosmetic changes to make cosmetic changes to these (Koichu et al., 2013 ). In TTP, due consideration must also be given to the problem characteristics that best support students in strengthening existing understandings and experiencing new learning of the target concept, process, or skill (Cai, 2003 ; Takahashi, 2008 ). Specialised content knowledge is also crucial for teachers to accurately predict and interpret various solution strategies and misconceptions/errors, to determine the validity of alternative approaches and the source of errors, to sequence student approaches, and to synthesise approaches and new learning during the TTP lesson (Ball et al., 2008 ; Cai, 2003 ; Leavy & Hourigan, 2018 ).

Teachers should also be knowledgeable regarding appropriate problem solving instruction. It is common for teachers to teach for problem solving (i.e., focusing on developing students’ problem solving skills and strategies). Teachers adopting a TTP approach engage in reform classroom practices that reflect a constructivist-oriented approach to problem solving instruction where the teacher guides students to work collaboratively to construct meaning, deciding when and how to support students without removing their autonomy (Chapman, 2015 ; Hiebert, 2003 ; Lester, 2013 ). Teachers ought to be aware of the various relevant models of problem solving, including Polya’s ( 1957 ) model that supports teaching for problem solving (Understand the problem-Devise a plan-Carry out the plan-Look back) alongside models that support TTP (e.g., Launch-Explore-Summarise) (Lester, 2013 ; Sullivan et al., 2021 ). While knowledge of heuristics and strategies may support teachers’ problem solving practices, there is consensus that teaching heuristics and strategies or teaching about problem solving does not significantly improve students’ problem solving ability. Teachers require a thorough knowledge of their students as problem solvers, for example, being aware of their abilities and factors that hinder their success, including language (Chapman, 2015 ). Knowledge of content and student, alongside content and teaching (Ball et al., 2008 ), is essential during TTP planning when predicting student approaches and errors. Such knowledge is also crucial during TTP implementation when determining the validity of alternative approaches, identifying the source of errors (Explore phase), sequencing student approaches, and synthesising the range of approaches and new learning effectively (Summarise phase) (Cai, 2003 ; Leavy & Hourigan, 2018 ).

Supports for teachers

Given the extensive demands of TTP, adopting this approach is arduous in terms of the planning time required to problem pose, predict approaches, and design questions and resources (Lester, 2013 ; Sullivan et al., 2010 ; Takahashi,  2008 ). Consequently, it is necessary to support teachers who adopt a TTP approach (Hiebert, 2003 ). Professional development must facilitate them to experience the approach themselves as learners and then provide classroom implementation opportunities that incorporate collaborative planning and reflection when trialling the approach (Watanabe, 2001 ). In Japan, a common form of professional development to promote, develop, and refine TTP implementation among teachers and test potential problems for TTP is Japanese Lesson Study (LS) (Stacey, 2018 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ). Another valuable support is access to a repository of worthwhile problems. In Japan, government-authorised textbooks and teacher manuals provide a sequence of lessons with rich well-tested problems to introduce new concepts. They also detail alternative strategies used by students and highlight the key mathematical aspects of these strategies (Takahashi, 2016 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ).

Teachers’ reservations about TTP

Despite the acknowledged benefits of TTP for students, some teachers report reluctance to employ TTP, identifying a range of obstacles. These include limited mathematics content knowledge or pedagogical content knowledge (Charalambous, 2008 ; Sakshaug & Wohlhuter, 2010 ) and a lack of access to resources or time to develop or modify appropriate resources (Ingram et al., 2020 ; Russo & Hopkins, 2019 ; Sullivan et al., 2015 ). Other barriers for teachers with limited experience of TTP include giving up control, struggling to support students without directing them, and a tendency to demonstrate how to solve the problem (Cheeseman, 2018 ; Crespo & Featherstone, 2006 ; Klein & Leiken, 2020 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ). Resistance to TTP is also associated with some teachers’ perception that this approach would lead to student disengagement and hence be unsuitable for lower-performing students (Ingram et al., 2020 ; Russo & Hopkins, 2019 ; Sullivan et al., 2010 ).

Problem solving practices in Irish elementary mathematics education

Within the Irish context, problem solving is a central tenet of elementary mathematics curriculum documents (Department of Education and Science (DES), 1999 ) with recommendations that problem solving should be integral to students’ mathematical learning. However, research reveals a mismatch between intended and implemented problem solving practices (Dooley et al., 2014 ; Dunphy et al., 2014 ), where classroom practices reflect a narrow approach limited to problem solving as an ‘add on’, only applied after mathematical procedures had been learned and where problems are predominantly sourced from dedicated sections of textbooks (Department of Education and Skills (DES), 2011 ; Dooley et al., 2014 ; National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), 2016 ; O’Shea & Leavy, 2013 ). Regarding the attained curriculum, Irish students have underperformed in mathematical problem solving, relative to other skills, in national and international assessments (NCCA, 2016 ; Shiel et al., 2014 ). Consensus exists that there is scope for improvement of problem solving practices, with ongoing calls for Irish primary teachers to receive support through school-based professional development models alongside creating a repository of quality problems (DES, 2011 ; Dooley et al., 2014 ; NCCA, 2016 ).

Lesson Study (LS) as a professional development model

Reform mathematics practices, such as TTP, challenge many elementary teachers’ beliefs, knowledge, practices, and cultural norms, particularly if they have not experienced the approach themselves as learners. To support teachers in enacting reform approaches, they require opportunities to engage in extended and targeted professional development involving collaborative and practice-centred experiences (Dudley et al., 2019 ; Murata et al., 2012 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ). Lesson Study (LS) possesses the characteristics of effective professional development as it embeds ‘…teachers’ learning in their everyday work…increasing the likelihood that their learning will be meaningful’ (Fernandez et al., 2003 , p. 171).

In Japan, LS was developed in the 1980s to support teachers to use more student-centred practices. LS is a school-based, collaborative, reflective, iterative, and research-based form of professional development (Dudley et al., 2019 ; Murata et al., 2012 ). In Japan, LS is an integral part of teaching and is typically conducted as part of a school-wide project focused on addressing an identified teaching–learning challenge (Takahashi & McDougal, 2016 ). It involves a group of qualified teachers, generally within a single school, working together as part of a LS group to examine and better understand effective teaching practices. Within the four phases of the LS cycle, the LS group works collaboratively to study and plan a research lesson that addresses a pre-established goal before implementing (teach) and reflecting (observe, analyse and revise) on the impact of the lesson activities on students’ learning.

LS has become an increasingly popular professional development model outside of Japan in the last two decades. In these educational contexts, it is necessary to find a balance between fidelity to LS as originally envisaged and developing a LS approach that fits the cultural context of a country’s education system (Takahashi & McDougal, 2016 ).

Relevant research examining the impact of LS on qualified primary mathematics teachers reports many benefits. Several studies reveal that teachers demonstrated transformed beliefs regarding effective pedagogy and increased self-efficacy in their use due to engaging in LS (Cajkler et al., 2015 ; Dudley et al., 2019 ; Fernandez, 2005 ; Gutierez, 2016 ). Enhancements in participating teachers’ knowledge have also been reported (Cajkler et al., 2015 ; Dudley et al., 2019 ; Fernandez, 2005 ; Gutierez, 2016 ; Murata et al., 2012 ). Other gains recounted include improvements in practice with a greater focus on students (Cajkler et al., 2015 ; Dudley et al., 2019 ; Flanagan, 2021 ).

Context of this study

A cluster of urban schools, coordinated by their local Education Centre, engaged in an initiative to enhance teachers’ mathematics problem solving practices. The co-ordinator of the initiative approached the researchers, both mathematics teacher educators (MTEs), seeking a relevant professional development opportunity. Aware of the challenges of problem solving practice within the Irish context, the MTEs proposed an alternative perspective on problem solving: the Teaching Through Problem Solving (TTP) approach. Given Cai’s ( 2003 ) recommendation that teachers can best learn to teach through problem solving by teaching and reflecting as opposed to taking more courses, the MTEs identified LS as the best fit in terms of a supportive professional development model, as it is collaborative, experiential, and school-based (Dudley et al., 2019 ; Murata et al., 2012 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ). Consequently, LS would promote teachers to work collaboratively to understand the TTP approach, plan TTP practices for their educational context, observe what it looks like in practice, and assess the impact on their students’ thinking (Takahashi et al., 2013 ). In particular, the MTEs believed that the LS phases and practices would naturally support TTP structures, emphasizing task selection and anticipating students’ solutions. Given Lester’s ( 2013 ) assertion that each problem solving experience a teacher engages in can potentially alter their knowledge for teaching problem solving, the MTEs sought to explore teachers’ perceptions of the impact of engaging with TTP through LS on their beliefs regarding problem solving and their knowledge for teaching problem solving.

Research questions

This paper examines two research questions:

Research question 1: What are elementary teachers’ reported problem solving practices prior to engaging in LS?

Research question 2: What are elementary teachers’ perceptions of what they learned from engaging with TTP through LS?

Methodology

Participants.

The MTEs worked with 19 elementary teachers (16 female, three male) from eight urban schools. Schools were paired to create four LS groups on the basis of the grade taught by participating class teachers, e.g. Grade 3 teacher from school 1 paired with Grade 4 teacher from school 2. Each LS group generally consisted of 4–5 teachers, with a minimum of two teachers from each school, along with the two MTEs. For most teachers, LS and TTP were new practices being implemented concurrently. However, given the acknowledged overlap between the features of the TTP and LS approaches, for example, the focus on problem posing and predicting student strategies, the researchers were confident that the content and structure were compatible. Also, in Japan, LS is commonly used to promote TTP implementation among teachers (Stacey, 2018 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ).

All ethical obligations were adhered to throughout the research process, and the study received ethical approval from the researchers’ institutional board. Of the 19 participating LS teachers invited to partake in the research study, 16 provided informed consent to use their data for research purposes.

Over eight weeks, the MTEs worked with teachers, guiding each LS group through the four LS phases involving study, design, implementation, and reflection of a research lesson that focused on TTP while assuming the role of ‘knowledgeable others’ (Dudley et al., 2019 ; Hourigan & Leavy, 2021 ; Takahashi & McDougal, 2016 ). An overview of the timeline and summary of each LS phase is presented in Table 1 .

LS phase 1: Study

This initial study phase involved a one-day workshop. The process and benefits of LS as a school-based form of professional development were discussed in the morning session and the afternoon component was spent focusing on the characteristics of TTP. Teachers experienced the TPP approach first-hand by engaging in the various lesson stages. For example, they solved a problem (growing pattern problem) themselves in pairs and shared their strategies. They also predicted children’s approaches to the problem and possible misconceptions and watched the video cases of TTP classroom practice for this problem. Particular focus was placed on the importance of problem selection and prediction of student strategies before the lesson implementation and the Neriage stage of the lesson. Teachers also discussed readings related to LS practices (e.g. Lewis & Tsuchida, 1998 ) and TTP (e.g., Takahashi, 2008 ). At the end of the workshop, members of each LS group were asked to communicate among themselves and the MTEs, before the planning phase, to decide the specific mathematics focus of their LS group’s TTP lesson (Table 1 ).

LS phase 2: Planning

The planning phase was four weeks in duration and included two 1½ hour face-to-face planning sessions (i.e. planning meetings 1 and 2) between the MTEs and each LS group (Table 1 ). Meetings took place in one of the LS group’s schools. At the start of the first planning meeting, time was dedicated to Takahashi’s ( 2008 ) work focusing on the importance of problem selection and prediction of student strategies to plan the Neriage stage of the TTP lesson. The research lesson plan structure was also introduced. Ertle et al.’s ( 2001 ) four column lesson plan template was used. It was considered particularly compatible with the TTP approach, given the explicit attention to expected student response and the teacher’s response to student activity/response.

The planning then moved onto the content focus of each LS group’s TTP research lesson. LS groups selected TTP research lessons focusing on number (group A), growing patterns (group B), money (group C), and 3D shapes (group D). Across the planning phase, teachers invested substantial time extensively discussing the TTP lesson goals in terms of target mathematics content, developing or modifying a problem to address these goals, and exploring considerations for the various lesson stages. Drawing on Takahashi’s ( 2008 ) article, it was re-emphasised that no strategies would be explicitly taught before students engaged with the problem. While one LS group modified an existing problem (group B) (Hourigan & Leavy, 2015 ), the other three LS groups posed an original problem. To promote optimum teacher readiness to lead the Neriage stage, each LS group was encouraged to solve the problem themselves in various ways considering possible student strategies and their level of mathematical complexity, thus identifying the most appropriate sequence of sharing solutions.

LS phase 3: Implementation

The implementation phase involved one teacher in each LS group teaching the research lesson (teach 1) in their school. The remaining group members and MTEs observed and recorded students’ responses. Each LS group and the MTEs met immediately for a post-lesson discussion to evaluate the research lesson. The MTEs presented teachers with a series of focus questions: What were your observations of student learning? Were the goals of the lesson achieved? Did the problem support students in developing the appropriate understandings? Were there any strategies/errors that we had not predicted? How did the Neriage stage work? What aspects of the lesson plan should be reconsidered based on this evidence? Where appropriate, the MTEs drew teachers’ attention to particular lesson aspects they had not noticed. Subsequently, each LS group revised their research lesson in response to the observations, reflections, and discussion. The revised lesson was retaught 7–10 days later by a second group member from the paired LS group school (teach 2) (Table 1 ). The post-lesson discussion for teach 2 focused mainly on the impact of changes made after the first implementation on student learning, differences between the two classes, and further changes to the lesson.

LS phase 4: Reflection

While reflection occurred after both lesson implementations, the final reflection involved all teachers from the eight schools coming together for a half-day meeting in the local Education Centre to share their research lessons, experiences, and learning (Table 1 ). Each LS group made a presentation, identifying their research lesson’s content focus and sequence of activity. Artefacts (research lesson plan, materials, student work samples, photos) were used to support observations, reflections, and lesson modifications. During this meeting, teachers also reflected privately and in groups on their initial thoughts and experience of both LS and TTP, the benefits of participation, the challenges they faced, and they provided suggestions for future practice.

Data collection

The study was a collective case study (Stake, 1995 ). Each LS group constituted a case; thus, the analysis was structured around four cases. Data collection was closely aligned with and ran concurrent to the LS process. Table 2 details the links between the LS phases and the data collection process.

The principal data sources (Table 2 ) included both MTEs’ fieldnotes (phase (P) 1–4), and reflections (P1–4), alongside email correspondence (P1–4), individual teacher reflections (P1, 2, 4) (see reflection tasks in Table 3 ), and LS documentation including various drafts of lesson plans (P2–4) and group presentations (P4). Fieldnotes refer to all notes taken by MTEs when working with the LS groups, for example, during the study session, planning meetings, lesson implementations, post-lesson discussions, and the final reflection session.

The researchers were aware of the limitations of self-report data and the potential mismatch between one’s perceptions and reality. Furthermore, data in the form of opinions, attitudes, and beliefs may contain a certain degree of bias. However, this paper intentionally focuses solely on the teachers’ perceived learning in order to represent their ‘lived experience’ of TTP. Despite this, measures were taken to assure the trustworthiness and rigour of this qualitative study. The researchers engaged with the study over a prolonged period and collected data for each case (LS group) at every LS phase (Table 2 ). All transcripts reflected verbatim accounts of participants’ opinions and reflections. At regular intervals during the study, research meetings interrogated the researchers’ understandings, comparing participating teachers’ observations and reflections to promote meaning-making (Creswell, 2009 ; Suter, 2012 ).

Data analysis

The MTEs’ role as participant researchers was considered a strength of the research given that they possessed unique insights into the research context. A grounded theory approach was adopted, where the theory emerges from the data analysis process rather than starting with a theory to be confirmed or refuted (Glaser, 1978 ; Strauss & Corbin, 1998 ). Data were examined focusing on evidence of participants’ problem solving practices prior to LS and their perceptions of their learning as a result of engaging with TTP through LS. A systematic process of data analysis was adopted. Initially, raw data were organised into natural units of related data under various codes, e.g. resistance, traditional approach, ignorance, language, planning, fear of student response, relevance, and underestimation. Through successive examinations of the relationship between existing units, codes were amalgamated (Creswell, 2009 ). Progressive drafts resulted in the firming up of several themes. Triangulation was used to establish consistency across multiple data sources. While the first theme, Vast divide between prevalent problem solving practices and TTP , addresses research question 1, it is considered an overarching theme, given the impact of teachers’ established problem solving understandings and practices on their receptiveness to and experience of TTP. The remaining five themes ( Seeing is believing : the value of practice centred experiences ; A gained appreciation of the relevance and value of TTP practices ; Enhanced problem posing understandings ; Awakening to students’ problem solving potential ; and Reservations regarding TTP) represent a generalised model of teachers’ perceived learning due to engaging with TTP through LS, thus addressing research question 2. Although one of the researchers was responsible for the initial coding, both researchers met regularly during the analysis to discuss and interrogate the established codes and to agree on themes. This process served to counteract personal bias (Suter, 2012 ).

As teacher reflections were anonymised, it was not possible to track teachers across LS phases. Consequently, teacher reflection data are labelled as phase and instrument only. For example, ‘P2, teacher reflection’ communicates that the data were collected during LS phase 2 through teacher reflection. However, the remaining data are labelled according to phase, instrument, and source, e.g. ‘P3, fieldnotes: group B’. While phase 4 data reflect teachers’ perceptions after engaging fully with the TTP approach, data from the earlier phases reflect teachers’ evolving perceptions at a particular point in their unfolding TTP experience.

Discussion of findings

The findings draw on the analysis of the data collected across the LS phases and address the research questions. Within the confines of this paper, illustrative quotes are presented to provide insights into each theme. An additional layer of analysis was completed to ensure a balanced representation of teachers’ views in reporting findings. This process confirmed that the findings represent the views of teachers across LS groups, for example, within the first theme presented ( Vast divide ), the eight quotes used came from eight different teacher reflections. Equally, the six fieldnote excerpts selected represent six different teachers’ views across the four LS groups. Furthermore, in the second theme ( Seeing is believing ), the five quotes presented were sourced from five different participating teachers’ reflections and the six fieldnote excerpts included are from six different teachers across the four LS groups. Subsequent examination of the perceptions of those teachers not included in the reporting of findings confirmed that their perspectives were represented within the quotes used. Hence, the researchers are confident that the findings represent the views of teachers across all LS groups. For each theme, sources of evidence that informed the presented conclusions will be outlined.

Vast divide between prevalent problem solving practices and TTP

This overarching theme addresses the research question ‘What were elementary teachers’ reported problem solving practices prior to engaging in LS?’.

At the start of the initiative, within the study session (fieldnotes), all teachers identified mathematics problem solving as a problem of practice. The desire to develop problem solving practices was also apparent in some teachers’ reflections (phase 1 (P1), N  = 8):

I am anxious about it. Problem solving is an area of great difficulty throughout our school (P1, teacher reflection).

During both study and planning phase discussions, across all LS groups, teachers’ reports suggested the almost exclusive use of a teaching for problem solving approach, with no awareness of the Teaching Through Problem Solving (TTP) approach; a finding also evidenced in both teacher reflections (P1, N  = 7) and email correspondence:

Unfamiliar, not what I am used to. I have no experience of this kind of problem solving. This new approach is the reverse way to what I have used for problem solving (P1, teacher reflection) Being introduced to new methods of teaching problem solving and trying different approaches is both exciting and challenging (P1: email correspondence)

Teachers’ descriptions of their problem solving classroom practices in both teacher reflections (P1, N  = 8) and study session discussions (fieldnotes) suggested a naïve conception of problem solving, using heuristics such as the ‘RUDE (read, underline, draw a picture, estimate) strategy’ (P1, fieldnotes) to support students in decoding and solving the problem:

In general, the problem solving approach described by teachers is textbook-led, where concepts are taught context free first and the problems at the end of the chapter are completed afterwards (P1, reflection: MTE2)

This approach was confirmed as widespread across all LS groups within the planning meetings (fieldnotes).

In terms of problem solving instruction, a teacher-directed approach was reported by some teachers within teacher reflections (P1, N  = 5), where the teacher focused on a particular strategy and modelled its use by solving the problem:

I tend to introduce the problem, ensure everyone understands the language and what is being asked. I discuss the various strategies that children could use to solve the problem. Sometimes I demonstrate the approach. Then children practice similar problems … (P1: Teacher reflection)

However, it was evident within the planning meetings, that this traditional approach to problem solving was prevalent among the teachers in all LS groups. During the study session (field notes and teacher reflections (P1, N  = 7)), there was a sense that problem solving was an add-on as opposed to an integral part of mathematics teaching and learning. Again, within the planning meetings, discussions across all four LS groups verified this:

Challenge: Time to focus on problems not just computation (P1: Teacher reflection). From our discussions with the various LS groups’ first planning meeting, text-based teaching seems to be resulting in many teachers teaching concepts context-free initially and then matching the concept with the relevant problems afterwards (P2, reflection: MTE1)

However, while phase 1 teacher reflections suggested that a small number of participating teachers ( N  = 4) possessed broader problem solving understandings, subsequently during the planning meetings, there was ample evidence (field notes) of problem-posing knowledge and the use of constructivist-oriented approaches that would support the TTP approach among some participating teachers in each of the LS groups:

Challenge: Spend more time on meaningful problems and give them opportunities and time to engage in activities, rather than go too soon into tricks, rhymes etc (P1, Teacher reflection). The class are already used to sharing strategies and explaining where they went wrong (P2, fieldnotes, Group B) Teacher: The problem needs to have multiple entry points (P2, fieldnotes: Group C)

While a few teachers reported problem posing practices, in most cases, this consisted of cosmetic adjustments to textbook problems. Overall, despite evidence of some promising practices, the data evidenced predominantly traditional problem solving views and practices among participating teachers, with potential for further broadening of various aspects of their knowledge for teaching problem solving including what constitutes a worthwhile problem, the role of problem posing within problem solving, and problem solving instruction. Within phase 1 teacher reflections, when reporting ‘challenges’ to problem solving practices (Table 3 ), a small number of responses ( N  = 3) supported these conclusions:

Differences in teachers’ knowledge (P1: Teacher reflection). Need to challenge current classroom practices (P1: Teacher reflection).

However, from the outset, all participating teachers consistently demonstrated robust knowledge of their students as problem solvers, evidenced in phase 1 teacher reflections ( N  = 10) and planning meeting discussions (P2, fieldnotes). However, in these early phases, teachers generally portrayed a deficit view, focusing almost exclusively on the various challenges impacting their students’ problem solving abilities. While all teachers agreed that the language of problems was inhibiting student engagement, other common barriers reported included student motivation and perseverance:

They often have difficulties accessing the problem – they don’t know what it is asking them (P2, fieldnotes: Group C) Sourcing problems that are relevant to their lives. I need to change every problem to reference soccer so the children are interested (P1: teacher reflection) Our children deal poorly with struggle and are slow to consider alternative strategies (P2, fieldnotes: Group D)

Despite showcasing a strong awareness of their students’ problem solving difficulties, teachers initially demonstrated a lack of appreciation of the benefits accrued from predicting students’ approaches and misconceptions relating to problem solving. While it came to the researchers’ attention during the study phase, its prevalence became apparent during the initial planning meeting, as its necessity and purpose was raised in three of the LS groups:

What are the benefits of predicting the children’s responses? (P1, fieldnotes). I don’t think we can predict- we will have to wait and see (P2, fieldnotes: Group A).

This finding evidences teachers’ relatively limited knowledge for teaching problem solving, given that this practice is fundamental to TTP and constructivist-oriented approaches to problem solving instruction.

Perceived impacts of engaging with TTP through LS

In response to the research question ‘What are elementary teachers’ perceptions of what they learned from engaging with TTP through LS?’, thematic data analysis identified 5 predominant themes, namely, Seeing is believing : the value of practice centred experiences ; A gained appreciation of the relevance and value of TTP practices ; Enhanced problem posing understandings ; Awakening to students’ problem solving potential ; and Reservations regarding TTP.

Seeing is believing: the value of practice centred experiences

Teachers engaged with TTP during the study phase as both learners and teachers when solving the problem. They were also involved in predicting and analysing student responses when viewing the video cases, and engaged in extensive reading, discussion, and planning for their selected TTP problem within the planning phase. Nevertheless, teachers reported reservations about the relevance of TTP for their context within both phase 2 teacher reflections ( N  = 5) as well as within the planning meeting discourse of all LS groups. Teachers’ keen awareness of their students’ problem solving challenges, coupled with the vast divide between the nature of their prior problem solving practices and the TTP approach, resulted in teachers communicating concern regarding students’ possible reaction during the planning phase:

I am worried about the problem. I am concerned that if the problem is too complex the children won’t respond to it (P2, fieldnotes: Group B) The fear that the children will not understand the lesson objective. Will they engage? (P2, Teacher reflection)

Acknowledging their apprehension regarding students’ reactions to TTP, from the outset, all participating teachers communicated a willingness to trial TTP practices:

Exciting to be part of. Eager to see how it will pan out and the learning that will be taken from it (P1, teacher reflection) They should be ‘let off’ (P2, fieldnotes: Group A).

It was only within the implementation phase, when teachers received the opportunity to meaningfully observe the TTP approach in their everyday work context, with their students, that they explicitly demonstrated an appreciation for the value of TTP practices. It was evident from teacher commentary across all LS groups’ post-lesson discussions (fieldnotes) as well as in teacher reflections (P4, N  = 10) that observing first-hand the high levels of student engagement alongside students’ capacity to engage in desirable problem solving strategies and demonstrate sought-after dispositions had affected this change:

Class teacher: They engaged the whole time because it was interesting to them. The problem is core in terms of motivation. It determines their willingness to persevere. Otherwise, it won’t work whether they have the skills or not (P3, fieldnotes: Group C) LS group member: The problem context worked really well. The children were all eager and persevered. It facilitated all to enter at their own level, coming up with ideas and using their prior knowledge to solve the problem. Working in pairs and the concrete materials were very supportive. It’s something I’d never have done before (P3, fieldnotes: Group A)

Although all teachers showcased robust knowledge of their students’ problem solving abilities prior to engaging in TTP, albeit with a tendency to focus on their difficulties and factors that inhibited them, teachers’ contributions during post-lesson discussions (fieldnotes) alongside teacher reflections (P4, N  = 9) indicate that observing TTP in action supported them in developing an appreciation of value of the respective TTP practices, particularly the role of prediction and observation of students’ strategies/misconceptions in making the students’ thinking more visible:

You see the students through the process (P3, fieldnotes: Group C) It’s rare we have time to think, to break the problem down, to watch and understand children’s ways of thinking/solving. It’s really beneficial to get a chance to re-evaluate the teaching methods, to edit the lesson, to re-teach (P4, teacher reflection)

Analysis of the range of data sources across the phases suggests that it was the opportunity to experience TTP in practice in their classrooms that provided the ‘proof of concept’:

I thought it wasn’t realistic but bringing it down to your own classroom it is relevant (P4, teacher reflection).

Hence from the teachers’ perspective, they witnessed the affordances of TTP practices in the implementation phase of the LS process.

A gained appreciation of the relevance and value of TTP practices

While during the early LS phases, teachers’ reporting suggested a view of problem solving as teaching to problem solve, data from both fieldnotes (phases 3 and 4) and teacher reflections (phase 4) demonstrate that all teachers broadened their understanding of problem solving as a result of engaging with TTP:

Interesting to turn lessons on their head and give students the chance to think, plan and come up with possible strategies and solutions (P4, Teacher reflection)

On witnessing the affordances of TTP first-hand in their own classrooms, within both teacher reflections (P4, N  = 12) and LS group presentations, the teachers consistently reported valuing these new practices:

I just thought the whole way of teaching was a good way, an effective way of teaching. Sharing and exploring more than one way of solving is vital (P4, teacher reflection) There is a place for it in the classroom. I will use aspects of it going forward (P4, fieldnotes: Group C)

In fact, teachers’ support for this problem solving approach was apparent in phase 3 during the initial post-lesson discussions. It was particularly notable when a visitor outside of the LS group who observed teach 1 challenged the approach, recommending the explicit teaching of strategies prior to engagement. A LS group member’s reply evidenced the group’s belief that TTP naturally exposes students to the relevant learning: ‘Sharing and questioning will allow students to learn more efficient strategies [other LS group members nodding in agreement]’ (P3, fieldnotes; Group A).

In turn, within phase 4 teacher reflections, teachers consistently acknowledged that engaging with TTP through LS had challenged their understandings about what constitutes effective problem solving instruction ( N  = 12). In both teacher reflections (P4, N  = 14) and all LS group presentations, teachers reported an increased appreciation of the benefits of adopting a constructivist-oriented approach to problem solving instruction. Equally for some, this was accompanied by an acknowledgement of a heightened awareness of the limitations of their previous practice :

Really made me re-think problem solving lesson structures. I tend to spoon-feed them …over-scaffold, a lot of teacher talk. … I need to find a balance… (P4, teacher reflection) Less is more, one problem can be the basis for an entire lesson (P4, teacher reflection)

What was unexpected, was that some teachers (P4, N  = 8) reported that engaging with TTP through LS resulted in them developing an increased appreciation of the value of problem solving and the need for more regular opportunities for students to engage in problem solving:

I’ve come to realise that problem solving is critical and it should be focused on more often. I feel that with regular exposure to problems they’ll come to love being problem solvers (P4, teacher reflection)

Enhanced problem posing understandings

In the early phases of LS, few teachers demonstrated familiarity with problem characteristics (P2 teacher reflection, N  = 5). However, there was growth in teachers’ understandings of what constitutes a worthwhile problem and its role within TTP within all LS groups’ post-lesson discussions and presentations (fieldnotes) and teacher reflections (P4, N  = 10):

I have a deepened understanding of how to evaluate a problem (P2, teacher reflection) It’s essential to find or create a good problem with multiple strategies and/or solutions as a springboard for a topic. It has to be relevant and interesting for the kids (P4, teacher reflection)

As early as the planning phase, a small group of teachers’ reflections ( N  = 2) suggested an understanding that problem posing is an important aspect of problem solving that merits significant attention:

It was extremely helpful to problem solve the problem (P2, teacher reflection)

However, during subsequent phases, this realisation became more mainstream, evident within all LS groups’ post-lesson discussions and presentations (fieldnotes) and teacher reflections (P4, N  = 12):

During the first planning meeting, I was surprised and a bit anxious that we would never get to having created a problem. In hindsight, this was time well spent as the problem was crucial (P4, teacher reflection) I learned the problem is key. We don’t spend enough time picking the problem (P4, fieldnotes: Group C).

Alongside this, in all LS groups’ dialogues during the post-lesson discussion and presentations (fieldnotes) and teacher reflections (P4, N  = 15), teachers consistently demonstrated an enhanced awareness of the interdependence between the quality of the problem and students’ problem solving behaviours:

Better perseverance if the problem is of interest to them (P4, teacher reflection) It was an eye-opener to me, relevance is crucial, when the problem context is relevant to them, they are motivated to engage and can solve problems at an appropriate level…They all wanted to present (P3, fieldnotes: Group C)

The findings suggest that engaging with TTP through LS facilitated participating teachers to develop an enhanced understanding of the importance of problem posing and in identifying the features of a good mathematics problem, thus developing their future problem posing capacity. In essence, the opportunity to observe the TTP practices in their classrooms stimulated an enhanced appreciation for the value of meticulous attention to detail in TTP planning.

Awakening to students’ problem solving potential

In the final LS phases, teachers consistently reported that engaging with TTP through LS provided the opportunity to see the students through the process , thus supporting them in examining their students’ capabilities more closely. Across post-lesson discussions and presentations (fieldnotes) and teacher reflections (P4, N  = 14), teachers acknowledged that engagement in core TTP practices, including problem posing, prediction of students’ strategies during planning, and careful observation of approaches during the implementation phase, facilitated them to uncover the true extent of their students’ problem solving abilities, heightening their awareness of students’ proficiency in using a range of approaches:

Class teacher: While they took a while to warm up, I am most happy that they failed, tried again and succeeded. They all participated. Some found a pattern, others used trial and error. Others worked backward- opening the cube in different ways. They said afterward ‘That was the best maths class ever’ (P3, fieldnotes: Group D) I was surprised with what they could do. I have learned the importance of not teaching strategies first. I need to pull back and let the children solve the problems their own way and leave discussing strategies to the end (P4, teacher reflection)

In three LS groups, class teachers acknowledged in the post-lesson discussion (fieldnotes) that engaging with TTP had resulted in them realising their previous underestimation of [some or all] of their students’ problem solving abilities . Teacher reflections (P4, N  = 8) and LS group presentations (fieldnotes) also acknowledged this reality:

I underestimated my kids, which is awful. The children surprised me with the way they approached the problem. In the future I need to focus on what they can do as much as what might hinder them…they are more able than we may think (P4, reflection)

In all LS groups, teachers reported that their heightened appreciation of students’ problem solving capacities promoted them to use a more constructivist-orientated approach in the future:

I learned to trust the students to problem solve, less scaffolding. Children can be let off to explore without so much teacher intervention (P3, fieldnotes: Group D)

Some teachers ( N  = 3) also acknowledged the affective benefits of TTP on students:

I know the students enjoyed sharing their different strategies…it was great for their confidence (P4, teacher reflection)

Interestingly, in contrast with teachers’ initial reservations, their experiential and school-based participation in TTP through LS resulted in a lessening of concern regarding the suitability of TTP practices for their students. Hence, this practice-based model supported teachers in appreciating the full extent of their students’ capacities as problem solvers.

Reservations regarding TTP

When introduced to the concept of TTP in the study session, one teacher quickly addressed the time implications:

It is unrealistic in the everyday classroom environment. Time is the issue. We don’t have 2 hours to prep a problem geared at the various needs (P1, fieldnotes)

Subsequently, across the initiative, during both planning meetings, the reflection session and individual reflections (P4, N  = 14), acknowledgements of the affordances of TTP practices were accompanied by questioning of its sustainability due to the excessive planning commitment involved:

It would be hard to maintain this level of planning in advance of the lesson required to ensure a successful outcome (P4, teacher reflection)

Given the extensive time dedicated to problem posing, solving, prediction, and design of questions as well as selection or creation of materials both during and between planning meetings, there was agreement in the reflection session (fieldnotes) and in teacher reflections (P4, N  = 10) that while TTP practices were valuable, in the absence of suitable support materials for teachers, adjustments were essential to promote implementation:

There is definitely a role for TTP in the classroom, however the level of planning involved would have to be reduced to make it feasible (P4, teacher reflection) The TTP approach is very effective but the level of planning involved is unrealistic with an already overcrowded curriculum. However, elements of it can be used within the classroom (P4, teacher reflection)

A few teachers ( N  = 3) had hesitations beyond the time demands, believing the success of TTP is contingent on ‘a number of criteria…’ (P4, teacher reflection):

A whole-school approach is needed, it should be taught from junior infants (P4, teacher reflection) I still have worries about TTP. We found it difficult to decide a topic initially. It lends itself to certain areas. It worked well for shape and space (P4, teacher reflection)

Conclusions

The reported problem solving practice reflects those portrayed in the literature (NCCA, 2016 ; O’Shea & Leavy, 2013 ) and could be aptly described as ‘pendulum swings between emphases on basic skills and problem solving’ (Lesh & Zawojewski, 2007 in Takahashi et al., 2013 , p. 239). Teachers’ accounts depicted problem solving as an ‘add on’ occurring on an ad hoc basis after concepts were taught (Dooley et al., 2014 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ), suggesting a simplistic view of problem solving (Singer & Voica, 2013 ; Swan, 2006 ). Hence, in reality there was a vast divide between teachers’ problem solving practices and TTP. Alongside traditional beliefs and problem solving practices (Stipek et al., 2001 ; Swan, 2006 ; Thompson, 1985 ), many teachers demonstrated limited insight regarding what constitutes a worthwhile problem (Klein & Lieken, 2020 ) or the critical role of problem posing in problem solving (Cai, 2003 ; Takahashi, 2008 ; Watson & Ohtani, 2015 ). Teachers’ reports suggested most were not actively problem posing, with reported practices limited to cosmetic changes to the problem context (Koichu et al., 2013 ). Equally, teachers demonstrated a lack of awareness of alternative approaches to teaching for problem solving (Chapman, 2015 ) alongside limited appreciation among most of the affordances of a more child-centred approach to problem solving instruction (Hiebert, 2003 ; Lester, 2013 ; Swan, 2006 ). Conversely, there was evidence that some teachers held relevant problem posing knowledge and utilised practices compatible with the TTP approach.

All teachers displayed relatively strong understandings of their students as problem solvers from the outset; however, they initially focused almost exclusively on factors impacting students’ limited problem solving capacity (Chapman, 2015 ). Teachers’ perceptions of their students’ problem solving abilities alongside the vast divide between teachers’ problem solving practice and the proposed TTP approach resulted in teachers being initially concerned regarding students’ response to TTP. This finding supports studies that reported resistance by teachers to the use of challenging tasks due to fears that students would not be able to manage (Ingram et al., 2020 ; Russo & Hopkins, 2019 ; Sullivan et al., 2010 ). Equally, teachers communicated disquiet from the study phase regarding the time investment required to adopt the TTP approach, a finding common in similar studies (Ingram et al., 2020 ; Russo & Hopkins, 2019 ; Sullivan et al., 2015 ). Hence, the transition to TTP was uneasy for most teachers, given the significant shift it represented in terms of moving beyond a teaching to problem solve approach alongside the range of teacher demands (Takahashi et al., 2013 ).

Nevertheless, despite initial reservations, all teachers reported that engagement with TTP through LS affected their problem solving beliefs and understandings. What was particularly notable was that they reported an awakening to students’ problem solving potential . During LS’s implementation and reflection stages, all teachers acknowledged that seeing was believing concerning the benefits of TTP for their students (Kapur, 2010 ; Stacey, 2018 ). In particular, they recognised students’ positive response (Russo & Minas, 2020 ) enacted in high levels of engagement, perseverance in finding a solution, and the utilisation of a range of different strategies. These behaviours were in stark contrast to teachers’ reports in the study phase. Teachers acknowledged that students had more potential to solve problems autonomously than they initially envisaged. This finding supports previous studies where teachers reported that allowing students to engage with challenging tasks independently made students’ thinking more visible (Crespo & Featherstone, 2006 ; Ingram et al., 2020 ; Sakshand & Wohluter, 2010 ). It also reflects Sakshaug and Wohlhuter’s ( 2010 ) findings of teachers’ tendency to underestimate students’ potential to solve problems. Interestingly, at the end of LS, concern regarding the appropriateness of the TTP approach for students was no longer cited by teachers. This finding contrasts with previous studies that report teacher resistance due to fears that students will become disengaged due to the unsuitability of the approach (challenging tasks) for lower-performing students (Ingram et al., 2020 ; Russo & Hopkins, 2019 ; Sullivan et al., 2015 ). Hence, engaging with TTP through LS supported teachers in developing an appreciation of their students’ potential as problem solvers.

Teachers reported enhanced problem posing understandings, consisting of newfound awareness of the connections between the quality of the problem, the approach to problem solving instruction, and student response (Chapman, 2015 ; Cai, 2003 ; Sullivan et al., 2015 ; Takahashi, 2008 ). They acknowledged that they had learned the importance of the problem in determining the quality of learning and affecting student engagement, motivation and perseverance, and willingness to share strategies (Cai, 2003 ; Watson & Oktani, 2015 ). These findings reflect previous research reporting that engagement in LS facilitated teachers to enhance their teacher knowledge (Cajkler et al., 2015 ; Dudley et al., 2019 ; Gutierez, 2016 ).

While all teachers acknowledged the benefits of the TTP approach for students (Cai & Lester, 2010 ; Sullivan et al., 2014 ; Takahashi, 2016 ), the majority confirmed their perception of the relevance and value of various TTP practices (Hiebert, 2003 ; Lambdin, 2003 ; Takahashi, 2006 ). They referenced the benefits of giving more attention to the problem, allowing students the opportunity to independently solve, and promoting the sharing of strategies and pledged to incorporate these in their problem solving practices going forward. Many verified that the experience had triggered them to question their previous problem solving beliefs and practices (Chapman, 2015 ; Lester, 2013 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ). This study supports previous research reporting that LS challenged teachers’ beliefs regarding the characteristics of effective pedagogy (Cajkler et al., 2015 ; Dudley et al., 2019 ; Fernandez, 2005 ; Gutierez, 2016 ). However, teachers communicated reservations regarding TTP , refraining from committing to TTP in its entirety, highlighting that the time commitment required for successful implementation on an ongoing basis was unrealistic. Therefore, teachers’ issues with what they perceived to be the excessive resource implications of TTP practices remained constant across the initiative. This finding supports previous studies that report teachers were resistant to engaging their students with ‘challenging tasks’ provided by researchers due to the time commitment required to plan adequately (Ingram et al., 2020 ; Russo & Hopkins, 2019 ; Sullivan et al., 2015 ).

Unlike previous studies, teachers in this study did not perceive weak mathematics content or pedagogical content knowledge as a barrier to implementing TTP (Charalambous, 2008 ; Sakshaug & Wohlhuter, 2010 ). However, it should be noted that the collaborative nature of LS may have hidden the knowledge demands for an individual teacher working alone when engaging in the ‘Anticipate’ element of TTP particularly in the absence of appropriate supports such as a bank of suitable problems.

The findings suggest that LS played a crucial role in promoting reported changes, serving both as a supportive professional development model (Stacey, 2018 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ) and as a catalyst, providing teachers with the opportunity to engage in a collaborative, practice-centred experience over an extended period (Dudley et al., 2019 ; Watanabe, 2001 ). The various features of the LS process provided teachers with opportunities to engage with, interrogate, and reflect upon key TTP practices. Reported developments in understandings and beliefs were closely tied to meaningful opportunities to witness first-hand the affordances of the TTP approach in their classrooms with their students (Dudley et al., 2019 ; Fernandez et al., 2003 ; Takahashi et al., 2013 ). We suggest that the use of traditional ‘one-off’ professional development models to introduce TTP, combined with the lack of support during the implementation phase, would most likely result in teachers maintaining their initial views about the unsuitability of TTP practices for their students.

In terms of study limitations, given that all data were collected during the LS phases, the findings do not reflect the impact on teachers’ problem solving classroom practice in the medium to long term. Equally, while acknowledging the limitations of self-report data, there was no sense that the teachers were trying to please the MTEs, as they were forthright when invited to identify issues. Also, all data collected through teacher reflection was anonymous. The relatively small number of participating teachers means that the findings are not generalisable. However, they do add weight to the body of relevant research. This study also contributes to the field as it documents potential challenges associated with implementing TTP for the first time. It also suggests that despite TTP being at odds with their problem solving practice and arduous, the opportunity to experience the impact of the TTP approach with students through LS positively affected teachers’ problem solving understandings and beliefs and their commitment to incorporating TTP practices in their future practice. Hence, this study showcases the potential role of collaborative, school-based professional development in supporting the implementation of upcoming reform proposals (Dooley et al., 2014 ; NCCA, 2016 , 2017 , 2020 ), in challenging existing beliefs and practices and fostering opportunities for teachers to work collaboratively to trial reform teaching practices over an extended period (Cajkler et al., 2015 ; Dudley et al., 2019 ). Equally, this study confirms and extends previous studies that identify time as an immense barrier to TTP. Given teachers’ positivity regarding the impact of the TTP approach, their consistent acknowledgement of the unsustainability of the unreasonable planning demands associated with TTP strengthens previous calls for the development of quality support materials in order to avoid resistance to TTP (Clarke et al., 2014 ; Takahashi, 2016 ).

The researchers are aware that while the reported changes in teachers’ problem solving beliefs and understandings are a necessary first step, for significant and lasting change to occur, classroom practice must change (Sakshaug & Wohlhuter, 2010 ). While it was intended that the MTEs would work alongside interested teachers and schools to engage further in TTP in the school term immediately following this research and initial contact had been made, plans had to be postponed due to the commencement of the COVID 19 pandemic. The MTEs are hopeful that it will be possible to pick up momentum again and move this initiative to its natural next stage. Future research will examine these teachers’ perceptions of TTP after further engagement and evaluate the effects of more regular opportunities to engage in TTP on teachers’ problem solving practices. Another possible focus is teachers’ receptiveness to TTP when quality support materials are available.

In practical terms, in order for teachers to fully embrace TTP practices, thus facilitating their students to avail of the many benefits accrued from engagement, teachers require access to professional development (such as LS) that incorporates collaboration and classroom implementation at a local level. However, quality school-based professional development alone is not enough. In reality, a TTP approach cannot be sustained unless teachers receive access to quality TTP resources alongside formal collaboration time.

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This work was supported by the Supporting Social Inclusion and Regeneration in Limerick’s Programme Innovation and Development Fund.

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Hourigan, M., Leavy, A.M. Elementary teachers’ experience of engaging with Teaching Through Problem Solving using Lesson Study. Math Ed Res J 35 , 901–927 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13394-022-00418-w

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  4. Problem Solving Lesson Plans Your Middle Students Will Love

    teaching through problems worth solving grade 2

  5. [PDF] Teaching Through Problems Worth Solving

    teaching through problems worth solving grade 2

  6. 8 Problem Solving Strategies for the Math Classroom

    teaching through problems worth solving grade 2

VIDEO

  1. The Upside of Having Problems Worth Solving 😃

  2. What is a Problem Worth Solving?

  3. Problems Worth Solving

  4. How do you really feel about Math?

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COMMENTS

  1. Problems Worth Solving in a Thinking Classroom

    Teaching Through Problems Worth Solving ResourceInquiry-based, Curriculum-linked, Differentiated Math Problems for Grade 8. Grade 8 Version 3.0. Grade 8 Version 2.0.

  2. Teaching Word Problems in 2nd Grade

    The Common Core standard for 2nd grade says: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.OA.A.1. Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve one- and two-step word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the ...

  3. Math Made Easy: Helping Grade 2 Students Thrive in Problem Solving

    There are several math activities that parents and educators can use to help grade 2 students develop their problem-solving skills. One such activity is math games. Games such as Sudoku, Math Bingo, and Math Jeopardy can be used to teach students math concepts while making learning fun. Another activity is math puzzles.

  4. PDF Grade 2 (Version 1.0)

    Teaching Through Problems Worth Solving - Grade 2 (Version 1.0) - Inquiry-based, Curriculum-linked, Differentiated Math Problems for Grade 2 . Compiled by Carrie Sutton . With help from: Alicia Burdess . Kim Henry . Cheryl Snoble . Edited by Emerson Coish . With thanks to the ATA Educational Trust for their financial support.

  5. Real World Problem Solving in Second Grade Mathematics

    Objectives. The Common Core concentrates on a clear set of math skills and concepts. Students learn concepts in an organized way during the school year as well as across grades. The standards encourage students to solve real-world problems. 2. The Common Core calls for greater focus in mathematics.

  6. 6 Tips for Teaching Math Problem-Solving Skills

    2. Avoid boxing students into choosing a specific operation. It can be so tempting to tell students to look for certain words that might mean a certain operation. This might even be thoroughly successful in kindergarten and first grade, but just like when our map tells us where to go, that limits students from becoming deep thinkers.

  7. 5 Ways to Teach Math Word Problems in 2nd Grade

    The CUBES strategy is a helpful way to solve 2nd grade word problems. Use this acronym to help you remember the steps needed to solve a word problem: C: Circle the numbers. U: Underline the question. B: Box the keywords. E: Eliminate the extra information. S: Solve and check the problem.

  8. Teaching through Problem Solving

    12) For years now, UP NISMED in-service training programs for teachers have organized mathematics lessons for teachers using the strategy we call Teaching through Problem Solving (TtPS). This teaching strategy had also been tried by teachers in their classes and the results far outweighed the disadvantages anticipated by the teachers.

  9. Overview

    Download. Teaching Through Problem-solving flows through four phases as students 1. Grasp the problem, 2. Try to solve the problem independently, 3. Present and discuss their work (selected strategies), and 4. Summarize and reflect. Click on the arrows below to find out what students and teachers do during each phase and to see video examples.

  10. Teaching Problem Solving

    Make students articulate their problem solving process . In a one-on-one tutoring session, ask the student to work his/her problem out loud. This slows down the thinking process, making it more accurate and allowing you to access understanding. When working with larger groups you can ask students to provide a written "two-column solution.".

  11. PDF Teaching Through Problem Solving

    The Problem of Teaching. (Teaching as Problem Solving) Can/should tell. Conventions [order of operation, etc.] Symbolism and representations [tables, graphs, etc.] Present and re‐present at times of need. Can/should present alternative methods to resolve.

  12. Daily Math Problems

    A 44 slide editable PowerPoint template for problem solving in Mathematics. This PowerPoint Presentation has been designed to support teachers when teaching students about problem solving in mathematics. It provides students with the opportunity to work through 20 math word problems. Included after each word problem is an answer slide, to help ...

  13. Elementary teachers' experience of engaging with Teaching Through

    Teaching Through Problem Solving (TTP) is considered a powerful means of promoting mathematical understanding as a by-product of solving problems, where the teacher presents students with a specially designed problem that targets certain mathematics content (Stacey, 2018; Takahashi et al., 2013).The lesson implementation starts with the teacher presenting a problem and ensuring that students ...

  14. Teacher Resources

    Teaching Through Problems Worth Solving. We collected our favourite problems to use in a Thinking Classroom and linked them to our Alberta curriculum for grades 2, 3, and 8. Many problems can be used in many different grades. Read the Read This First Section to see how we used them in our classrooms. Grade 2 Collection.

  15. Math Resources

    Soving Problems together in a thinking classroom. A grade 8 student and her mother talk about learning math through problem solving in a "thinking classroom." Even teachers learn together through problem solving. Alicia Burdess website is a resource site that provides excellent free resources and downloads for students, teachers, and parents.

  16. Teaching Through Problems

    Lecturing interactively and facilitating discussions may be the primary modalities for instruction, but they are certainly not the only ones. Teaching through problems is increasingly practiced on college campuses and in secondary classrooms. These classrooms engage students in relevant, discipline-specific puzzles, frequently shifting instructors to the periphery as students collaborate to ...

  17. Two-Step Word Problems for Second Grade

    This teacher-made math resource is perfect for classwork, stations, tutoring, or homework! These second-grade math word problems can be handed out to your students for an in-class assignment or as a homework assignment. The answer key is included for easy grading at home and in the classroom. Printable and easy to use, this worksheet includes a total of 10 two-step word problems perfect for ...

  18. Additional Teacher Resources

    Teaching Through Problems Worth Solving Mighty Peace 2018. Early Numeracy 2017. Afternoon at Holy Cross A Conversation About Math 2018. ... Differentiated Math Problems for Grade 8 Version 3.0. Numeracy Leadership Group - Building Capacity in our Schools. More Learning and Problem Solving with the Numeracy Leadership Group. Research and Articles.

  19. NAIS

    Unsure about A vs. C. Idea 2: If you make 5 copies of A and 6 copies of C, they would have the same area (30 m2). A would then have 45 rabbits while C would have 48 rabbits, so C is more crowded. Idea 3: If you make 8 copies of A and 9 copies of C, they would have the same number of rabbits (72).

  20. Daily Math Word Problems

    A set of 20 problem-solving questions suited for Grade 2 students. This set of problem-solving questions has been designed to support teachers when teaching students about problem-solving in mathematics. It provides students with the opportunity to work through 20 math word problems. An answer sheet has been included.

  21. Teaching with Problems worth Solving

    Grade 4-7, 8-9. Subject Mathematics. Resource type Lesson plan/Unit plan. ... Teaching with Problems worth Solving. Download. Grade 4-7, 8-9. Subject Mathematics. Resource type Lesson plan/Unit plan. About This Resource. This resource was produced by a group of masters students from Alberta as part of Masters in Math education from SFU.

  22. PDF Teaching Through Problems Worth Solving

    Teaching Through Problems Worth Solving -Grade 3 (Version 1.0)- Inquiry-based, Curriculum-linked, Differentiated Math Problems for Grade 3 Alicia Burdess Katelyn Redl ... As you work your way through the grade 3 math curriculum by teaching through problem solving, please contact us with feedback, new ideas, exemplary problems, ...

  23. PDF Teaching Through Problems Worth Solving

    Number 1- Demonstrate an understanding of perfect squares and square roots, concretely, pictorially and symbolically (limited to whole numbers). Patterns and Relations (Variables and Equations) 2- Model and solve problems concretely, pictorially and symbolically, using linear equations of the form: • ax = b. 𝑥 𝑎.

  24. PDF Numeracy in GPCSD

    Numeracy in GPCSD - Home