Math Problem-Solving Strategies for Grades 3-6

(Grades 3-6) / Flex Course

PDI Course Number: 32T02 / UCSD Course Number: EDUC41594


Course Description

Why do students seem to have such a difficult time with the mathematical problem-solving process? The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics have shifted the focus from teaching problem solving to teaching via problem solving. This online course is designed for teachers in grades 3-6 who want to help their students become critical and logical mathematical thinkers. Specific strategies are introduced that improve the way students approach math problems. Information on the problem-solving process is shared together with distinct suggestions for incorporating specific problem-solving strategies such as finding a pattern, working backwards, and logical reasoning. By the end of this course, teachers will more fully understand how to best help students apply their logic and reasoning to real-world mathematical examples and will have gained valuable classroom ideas including using manipulatives, grouping strategies, student-centered teaching, the use of literature in mathematics, as well as how to appropriately assess students in the problem-solving process. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units (50 hours of training) from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"The content of this course was very meaningful and applicable to daily instruction. The resources are valuable. The information and knowledge will be most beneficial in enhancing my teaching practices." - Kathleen Gauthie

Enrollment Options

Course Only

Only $127 with the discount

Course with Credit from UCSD Extension

Only $323 with the discount

This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units or 5 quarter units of graduate-level credit from UC San Diego.

You have up to one year from the date you are enrolled to complete a flex course.


Print our customized course approval form to share with your school district.



Required Resource Book

This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List



UCSD Course Number: EDUC41594
Unit One
  • Why Problem Solving and Critical-Thinking Skills are Important
  • Introduction to the NCTM Standards and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
  • The Role of Mathematics Assessment
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1
Unit Two
  • The Problem-Solving Process
  • Student-Centered Teaching: Using Problems as a Teaching Tool
  • Grouping Strategies
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2
Unit Three
  • Problem Solving Strategy #1: Choose an Operation
  • Problem Solving Strategy #2: Find a Pattern
  • Problem Solving Strategy #3: Make a Table
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise
  • Test #3
Unit Four
  • Problem Solving Strategy #4: Make an Organized List
  • Problem Solving Strategy #5: Draw a Picture of a Diagram
  • Problem Solving Strategy #6: Guess and Check
  • Test #4
Unit Five
  • Problem Solving Strategy #7: Work Backward
  • Problem Solving Strategy #8: Logical Reasoning
  • Make it Meaningful—Real-World Problem Solving
  • Test #5
Unit Six
  • The Use of Manipulatives in Problem Solving
  • Using Literature to Teach Problem-Solving Skills
  • Assessing Problem Solving
  • Assignment #4: Create a real-world math problem to highlight each problem-solving strategy
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)


Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

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