Mathematical Problem Solving and STEM, Robinson, Spring 2020

Course Number: EDU 5626 C02
Instructor: Melinda Robinson
Location: Online
Dates and Times: February 3 - April 12, 2020
Credits: 3 Graduate Credits
Tuition: $975

Course Description

This is online course, geared for k-12th grade teachers, will be exploring how to help our students to become independent, engaged problem solvers in our classroom. We will discover what we can do to create a classroom culture that is open to problem solving, inquiry and persistence. You will explore an approach to mathematics that allows our students to learn through the problem solving rather than just putting problem solving as a task that is done at the end of the unit. Finally, we will discover how STEM tasks can become a vital tool in helping our students to become problem solvers. The ultimate goal of the course is to create units, or revamp existing units, to include problem solving as the approach to learning the content.

Course Objectives/Goals

Essential Questions:

How do we create a classroom that is opening our students up to be problem solvers?

How do we create an environment that allows for ‘productive struggle’ in our math class?

What role does visual literacy play in problem solving?

How do we need to shift our approach to problem solving with our students?

What is STEM and how can it be used in our classrooms?

How can we use STEM as a way to improve our students’ ability to problem solve?

Course Expectations

Weekly Focus and Expectations:

Week of February 3rd-

  • Creating a classroom Environment that is open to problem solving

Week of February 10th- Productive Struggle

  • We will explore the research behind Productive Struggle for our students.
  • Discover how promote and what hinders productive struggle in the classroom.

Week of February 17th- Visual Literacy

  • We will explore strategies that help our students visualize the questions and the steps to a solution.
  • Participants will create a lesson or series of lessons that will teach mathematical visual literacy.

Weeks of February 24th and March 2nd- Teaching through Problem Solving

  • We will explore the role of problem solving in our classrooms and classrooms around the world.
  • We will discover how to add problem solving throughout the unit instead of just a day or two at the end of the unit.

Week of March 9th- Shifting Problem Solving to Students

  • We will explore the shifts that need to take place to shift problem solving from our giving them steps into the responsibility of our students

Week of March 16th- Creating Good Problems

  • We will look at examples and research into how to create good problems for our classrooms.

Week of March 23rd- Intro STEM

  • We will look at the research behind the STEM approach to problem solving.

Week of March 30th and Aprl 6th - STEM as Problem Solving

  • We will explore how to increase the math and problem solving in our STEM lessons.

Week of April 13rd- Conclusion and Plans

  • Participants will present their Problem Solving Units

We will post and comment on each others’ units.

Course Requirements:

  • Attendance and Participation (20%):
    This course expects students to participate online. Students should respond to a specified prompt on or before the specified date each week. Students who miss more than one class response may be required to drop the course.
  • Student Learning Prompts (30%):
    Students will be expected to respond weekly to the prompt or questions that are presented for that week. Students are also responsible for responding to at least 2 other classmates’ prompts weekly. It is important that we communicate and discuss what we have learned with our colleagues so that the group can grow in our knowledge together. There will be a rubric that will be used to assess the professional level of discourse being shared each week.
  • Instructional Project (50%):
    Students will create an introductory unit to be taught at the beginning of the year to establish a culture for problem solving. They will also create a complete unit that incorporates problem solving throughout the unit. This needs to include a plan that has at least 2-3 lessons that include a problem solving, inquiry approach, and a culminating problem solving/STEM challenge that requires them to use the information the students garnered from the rest of the unit.


Attendance and Participation 20

Student Learning Prompts 30

Instructional Project 50

Total: 100

Required Texts

(All materials will be provided, there are no materials that will need to be purchased.) This is a small sampling of what will be used.

Takahashi, Akihiko.  Beyond Show and Tell: Neriage of Teaching Through Problem Solving- Ideas from Japanese Problem Solving Approach International Congress on Mathematics Education, Conference Paper, 2008.

“Stem Challenges: Your Role as a Facilitator.” Web Blog Post. Plans for a

Better Tomorrow. Blogger. 7 July 2016.

Schwartz, Katrina. “Practical Ways to Develop Students’ Mathematical

Reasoning.” Web Blog Post. Mind/Shift. KQED News. 14 Jan. 2016.

Boaler, Jo. Mathematical Mindsets. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2016.


Seeley, Cathy. Making Sense of Math. Alexandria: ASCD, 2016. Print.

Seeley, Cathy. Building a Math-Positive Culture. Alexandria: ASCD, 2016.


For additional course

Melinda Robinson

For additional registration information

Bethany Sprague
(802) 468-1325

Register online now!