Tensions and questions

Making it “work” in real classrooms: Addressing students’ expectations for mathematics and math class, changing their perspective towards problem solving, and creating an environment where students are focused on problem-solving.

  • my biggest obstacle is when the student is "afraid" of the problem (Dorcella)
  • We have to address student attitudes toward math (Meggie)
  • For problem solving to work we must teach our students to rethink mathematics. (Dorcella)
  • I agree that there are always (it seems) a handful that just don't quite buy in.  (Sarah P.)
  • it can be difficult to get students comfortable with a more student-centered setup. The struggle to get them all on board with it is real! It definitely takes some training of the students in terms of expectations for it to work well. But so many of them seem to fight for the more traditional approach. They want you to teach the concept and then for them to practice it. (Lauren)
  • students already come into the class thinking they are bad at math. (Alyssa)
  • Any ideas on how to get them ALL talking? (Sarah P.)
  • with 25+ students, and only 1 of me, it is difficult to keep them all engaged with the activity at hand. (Lauren)
  • I have noticed that my struggling students are not strong in partner or group settings.  No matter how "fun" I try to make it, they can't seem to do the work.  I know it is a matter of teaching them how to work in the groups, but all of this takes time out of the curriculum, so it's difficult to keep trying. (Meggie)
  • There is the fear of 30 teenagers grouping up and not doing the work. (Meggie)

Not having a lot of good examples of what it looks like

  • Does anyone know of some good videos of teachers incorporating problem solving? (Jake)
  • I keep searching for a "model classroom" in which this happens consistently year round. (Sarah P.)


  • I find myself feeling rushed and moving faster than I would like, all to keep up to a pacing guide (Sarah)
  • Unfortunately, in our high school math classes, we have so many standards and core concepts to get through, the idea of letting them discover connections on their own at their own pace is overwhelming. (Meggie)
  •  I struggle with making sure I cover everything I need to during the year… I feel like I am always pressed for time, too much to cover in too little time.(Joanne)
  • I get caught up in pacing guides and covering a certain amount of material before spring when my students take the SBAC. (Sarah L.)
  • I also feel that time is not on my side. The list of things we must get through each school year is overwhelming. (Lauren)

Planning and executing a lesson:

  • effectively teaching through problem solving requires a great deal of intentional planning, preparation, and patience (Emily)
  • Each time I try something new the kids stare at me like I am crazy.  I end up talking way more than I wanted to.  I try to add some small supports and end up spilling the beans! (Jake)
  • I plan on letting them explore and then I tell them too much (Joanne)
  • I have the same problem of feeling like I am talking WAY too much! (Sarah)
  • it is very hard not to jump in and help students but rather allow for time to struggle and work through things. (Jen H)
  • I always struggle the most with the wrap-up of the discussion (Sarah P.)