Rich Problem Solving

What does rich problem solving look like?

Paying attention to Mathematics Education talks about the importance of math involving several aspects. Some of which include:

  • Starting with the curriculum

  • planning and looking across the grades at key concepts in the curriculum

  • explore and make sense of the patterns across the strands

  • apply their knowledge and extend the knowledge

  • develop a deeper understanding

  • engaging students as co-learners in the development of math concepts

  • higher level thinking skills (math process in the curriculum)

  • multiple approaches to learning

  • differentiated instruction

  • fostering questions (variety of ways)

  • opportunities to consolidate their learning

  • development of learning goals and success criteria based on student learning


"Rich problem solving can be defined as: Using the strategies and tools to support the understanding and progress of tasks associated with critical thinking and reasoning. Allowing students to have a voice, provide opportunity for learning through many vehicles with multiple entry points."

Math Learning Picture Number 2

When looking at learning picture number 2, it seems as though the teacher provided a rich problem where students were engaged in solving the problem and sharing their ideas with the class. They seemed to discuss various strategies in developing their solution including an array, numerical/algorithm, and a chart (I think it is a chart). This rich problem clearly connects with the number sense strand and possibly measurement (area). There is an opportunity to solve the problem in multiple ways as well in order for the student(s) to share their thinking/ communicate their understanding (process). It is evident that rich problems in a classroom are successful when students are engaged and feel safe and comfortable to share their learning.

It is difficult to completely determine if this was a rich task or not, but it seems as though it has been by looking at the communication of the student's ideas and her engagement.