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Teaching Primary Grade Math Problem-Solving Skills (K-2)

Do you have students who excel at math computation but get lost when it is time to problem solve with word problems? Mathematical standards have shifted the focus from simply teaching problem solving to teaching via problem solving. This online course is designed for teachers in grades K-2 who want to help their students become critical and logical mathematical thinkers. Specific strategies are introduced to improve the way students approach math problems. 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 they will have gained a multitude of valuable classroom ideas, including using manipulatives, grouping strategies, student-centered teaching, quality literature, as well as how to appropriately assess students in the problem-solving process. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"This was a great class! I found many different activities to use with my kindergartners and found ways to engage my students and get them excited about math and problem solving. I also like the course documents you provided." - Julie Cufaude


Enrollment Options

Register] Course Registration Only $120 with the discount

Register]Course Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $304


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.

Common Core Sense: Tapping the Power of the Mathematical Practices” by Christine Moynihan

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


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 55T02

UCSD Course Number: EDUC41609

Unit One

  • Children as Problem Solvers
  • Introduction to the NCTM Standards and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
  • Working Together: Using Problems as a Teaching Tool
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1

Unit Two

  • The Problem-Solving Process
  • Models for Thinking
  • Constructing Number Sense
  • Place Value
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2

Unit Three

  • Types of Problems
  • Computation Strategies
  • Test #3
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise

Unit Four

  • Problem Solving with Geometry
  • Problem Solving with Measurement and Data
  • Creating a Math Workshop
  • Test #4

Unit Five

  • Grouping Strategies
  • Differentiation
  • Using Manipulatives to Help Solve Problems
  • Test #5

Unit Six

  • Make it Meaningful—Real-World Problem Solving
  • Using Literature to Teach Problem-Solving Skills
  • Assessing Problem Solving
  • Assignment #4: Create real-world math problems
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)