Collaborative Learning: Problem of the Week in Action

Mar 21, 2024

Collaborative Learning: Problem of the Week in Action

By Ana Delgado
Grade 1 teacher: KLA Academy 



In my first-grade classroom, integrating the Problem of the Week from [Math]odology has become a cherished routine. While I may not use it every single week, when I do, its effects are nothing short of transformative. What makes this resource truly remarkable is its versatility in presentation. I've experimented with various approaches, each yielding its own set of benefits. 


One of my favorite methods is presenting the problem to the entire class. Witnessing the energy and enthusiasm as my students engage in lively discussions is truly heartwarming. I often find myself stepping back, allowing them to take the lead, while I observe their thought processes unfold. Occasionally, I might intervene, using prompts like "I wonder" to steer their thinking or rephrasing their conversations to stimulate deeper reflection.   

Another effective strategy is utilizing them in vertical   non-permanent surfaces within small groups. Here,   collaboration takes center stage as students grapple   with the challenge together. What I find particularly   rewarding is observing how they articulate their   reasoning, persuade their peers, and persist through   difficulties. Even if they don't crack the problem   immediately, they understand that perseverance is key,   knowing they can revisit it in the coming days.


 What truly sets the Problem of the Week apart is its   ability to reinforce a fundamental philosophy in my   classroom: the journey of problem-solving is just as   important (if not more important) as reaching the   solution. Through this resource, I instill in my students   the notion that mathematicians don't always find answers in a single day; sometimes, it takes days or even weeks of exploration. This mindset shift alleviates the pressure of simply chasing the right answer, emphasizing instead the value of growth and resilience.


In essence, the Problem of the Week isn't merely about solving mathematical puzzles; it's about nurturing critical thinking skills, fostering collaboration, and cultivating a mindset of perseverance as well as reinforcing key mathematical skills. It's about empowering students to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, knowing that the journey itself and in the reflection of our thinking is where true learning occurs. As an educator, witnessing this transformative impact firsthand reaffirms my belief in the power of engaging, thought-provoking resources like the Problem of the Week, as well as the committed [Math]odology's team's dedication to enriching kids' learning experiences and providing teachers with the best tools available.