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Saturday, November 15, 2014

You Oughta Know About....Problem of the Month

I'm once again joining Jasmine McClain for the November "You Oughta Know" blog hop. This is my absolute favorite blog hop...I always get so many great ideas!
This month I'd like to talk about the Problem of the Month  from Inside Mathematics.
Check out this video (about 4 minutes long) for a classroom example:
These are CCSS based, multi-level word problems. Even if your state has not adopted Common Core, these are great higher-level problems to really get your students thinking and talking about math. 

Each problem starts at level A, which is primary, but doesn't necessarily mean 1st grade. Depending on the problem, level A can be anywhere k-3. Level E is the most difficult, and is usually designed for high school.

Here is an example I've used in 3rd grade and 5th grade. The problem is called "Diminishing Return". Level A is appropriate for 3rd graders relating multiplication to division:

Level A:   
Some classes are going out for a picnic lunch.  The teachers bought drinks in packs for their classes.   
Thirty-three students are in Mrs. Browne’s class.  Mrs. Browne bought six- packs for her class. She needs helpers, so she picks students to carry one six-pack each.  
Twenty-two students are in Mrs. Robinson’s class.  Mrs. Robinson bought four-packs for her class. She needs helpers, so she picks students to carry one four-pack each. 
Which teacher had to pick more helpers?   
Show how you found your answer. 

It comes with visuals for the students, a list of standards, and a lesson plan for you. (Level A is usually scripted, so they're great activities for a substitute).

This year I tried level B with my 5th graders. It involves adding and subtracting decimals. There is a picture menu included with the toys and prices.

Level B:
Mia has earned $43.94 of tokens playing games at the amusement center.  The store in the amusement center has the following toys for sale. She plans to get toys and donate them to a local charity for needy children.  The tokens are only good in this store, so she plans to spend all the tokens.  What combinations of toys can she buy in order to spend all the tokens?   
Show how you found your solution.

My kiddos worked in groups and had to make posters to share how they came to their solution. It was a great practice in teamwork as well as problem-solving. They looked so great, I even used them for my November bulletin board!

Now that you've learned about the problem of the month, check out these other great blogs for more ideas you just oughta know about!


  1. I will be using this resource! Thanks for sharing.

    The Math Maniac

  2. Will have to check this out further! Thanks for sharing!

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

  3. Thanks for sharing this resource Natalie! I have been looking for resources for my Math daily 5 centers!

    Buzzing With Mrs. McClain

  4. I love that students work on these problems collaboratively. I'm sure they lead to great conversation!

    Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten

  5. I've used them with 1st-5th graders; they're wonderful for any age!