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"Problem-based learning gives students the chance to learn mathematical concepts by working through an open-ended or open-middle task."

“Rather than provide direct instruction on a particular method that students should use and then having students solve the problem with that method, problem-based learning involves starting with the problem first and having students develop their own solution pathways. Problem-based learning tasks require students to define the question, find the relevant information necessary to solve the problem, decide which tools are needed, evaluate possible approaches, solve the problem, share their findings, and compare their reasoning to others. These sessions will draw upon my recent work on task development and implementation with students as well as adult learners.

“During these sessions, participants will engage in a variety of problem-based learning activities including three-act math tasks, open-middle problems, and open-ended tasks. We will explore how these tasks can be used to support student learning and for staff development. Participants will learn protocols for creating rich tasks, explore rubrics for task analysis, and learn effective instructional strategies when implementing a problem-based learning approach.

“Participants will leave with a variety of resources to support teachers including: Links to hundreds of tasks, planning guides, templates, articles, and access to an online repository of problem-based learning resources.”

Mike Flynn

Mike Flynn is the director of MathematicsLeadership Programs at Mount Holyoke College, where he runs the Master of Arts in Mathematics Teaching program and leads a wide variety of professional learning opportunities for teachers, teacher-leaders, ... Full Bio

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Get ready for Session One of our Workshop.

In the first Workshop session, you have the chance to learn exactly what makes this teaching practice successful in the classroom.

You learn the preparation required to share this approach with your students; the ways you can introduce this practice to your students most successfully; and exactly how your students can benefit as a result. You also have the chance to ask questions and to share your own ideas.

Make the most of our first Workshop session by taking time in advance to think about your responses to these driving questions:

  • What do you already know about ways to help become problem solvers in their approach to mathematics? What about this approach would you like to learn more about?
  • How do you think your students might benefit if you were to focus on problem solving–instead of answer getting–in your classroom?
  • After reviewing the materials I’ve provided in preparation for our Workshop, what specific questions do you have about what you saw?
  • What ideas do you have for incorporating the strategies presented in these materials within your own classroom? What could you incorporate directly? What would you need to change or modify to serve your students?


Get ready for Session Two of our Workshop.

In the second Workshop session, you have the chance to share and refine your own take on the professional practice introduced in Session One.

You have the chance to ask questions that can refine your understanding and impact your practice; to share and test your ideas for how you can adapt this teaching practice for your own classroom; and to support other teachers participating in the workshop as they personalize this practice to serve their own students.

To make the most of our second Workshop session please take time in advance to think about your responses to these driving questions:

  • How–in your own words–would you describe the teaching practice presented in Session One? How would you describe the impact that focusing on problem solving–as opposed to answer getting–might have for your students?
  • What about the shift in focus presented in the first Workshop session seemed most useful to you? What single component or idea seems like it would most strongly resonate with your students? 
  • How do you think your students would respond to this shift in focus if it was presented to them exactly as described in Session One? Which elements do you think you’d need to change to better serve your students? Which would you be sure to present without modifying?
  • What elements would you add? Do you have resources, materials, or lesson plans you already use that you could adapt or incorporate to better personalize this practice?
  • What help or support would you need to present this practice in your own classroom?
  • What changes, if any, would you need to make to your school schedule or to your classroom environment for this practice to succeed for your students?