Supplementary Curriculum to Help Students Meet and Exceed Standards

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After nine lessons, my class does a much better job of looking at the question asked and the information needed to solve the problem. They do much better when it comes to explaining how they got their answers. They write their explanations with more details. I think my FCAT math scores will be much improved.

Julie, 4th Grade Teacher
Seminole County
School District


Testimonials from Educators
who have used
Making Sense of Problem Solving


The following educators received no compensation from
Teacher to Teacher Publications for their statements.

I was immediately amazed at how different this [Making Sense of Problem Solving] book seemed to be. It really provides a scaffolded, well-supported framework for approach some rather high-level problems. So often, the supplemental materials we receive are simply endless sets of problems that are either too easy or far too challenging without scaffolding.

Alex, 7th Grade Teacher
Newark Public Schools, NJ
71% Black; 13% Hispanic; 8% Asian; 6% Caucasian
63% Free and reduced lunch

I was searching for a program that would enhance my school's core math curriculum.  I believed the FCAT math scores needed to be improved.  I was looking for a way my teachers could develop an understanding on how to teach in a way their students could develop higher level thinking skills that were needed to raise the school's math scores.  Making Sense of Problem Solving fulfilled all of these needs.  Our math learning gains increased 22%. 


% Meeting High Standards

% Making Learning Gains

% of Lowest 25% Making Learning Gains









Even though I was transferred from this school, I have heard from parents that they are pleased to see it is still being used.  I will be introducing this program at my present school.  I believe it will have the same results here.

Irene, Principal
Hamilton Elementary School
Seminole County, Florida

Making Sense of Problem Solving fills the void found in typical core programs in that it provides fun and engaging open-ended problem solving experiences that foster deep mathematical thinking, conceptual understanding, and powerful discourse about mathematical ideas.

Daniel S. King, PhD,
Mathematics Professional Development Specialist
ESD 114
Bremerton, WA

Making Sense of Problem Solving has brought about a great change in the way our teachers are thinking about the math they are having their students do. Teachers…have come to the realization that students don’t necessarily need to solve a problem exactly the same way. Students have become much more confident in their ability to solve problems and look forward to math class. We have seen Special Education students’ confidence soar as they are working in groups and talking about their way of thinking. Our special Ed. Teachers have been amazed at how much their students know because they are allowing them to talk through problems and solve them in the way that makes sense to them.

Jennifer, Math Coach
Franklin County Public Schools,
Franklin County, VA
57% Free and reduced lunch 24% Black; 10% Hispanic;
65% Caucasian

I have noticed many great changes in my students [while using Making Sense of Problem Solving]! They are thinking on their own and they are working through problems in many different ways. I learned to question more and tell less! I learned to be a facilitator. Great program. We (the students and teachers) truly enjoyed the change.

Ashley, Grade 2 Teacher
Franklin County Public Schools,
Franklin County, VA

The Teacher to Teacher program is very appropriate for regular, limited English proficiency and special education students. Prior knowledge is activated through the warm-up and the problems are linguistically clear, and not wordy so that scaffolding the instruction is much easier. Teacher to Teacher emphasizes the use of manipulatives and student discourse. The problems are engaging and the extensions take students who are ready to the next level of cognitive demand in mathematics.  

Linda, Mathematics Coach
Kent School District, Washington

It was very exciting to be in my office and have a teacher run to my door and say, “You have to come now! You have to see this!” What I saw were teachers getting excited about what they were learning, applying it in their classrooms and watching our children learn how to use those higher order skills and critical thinking skills.

I think what was most exciting for me was to see the growth in the teachers. They certainly changed the way in which they taught problem solving in the classroom.

Georgia, Elementary School Principal
Sayreville School District
New Jersey

After nine lessons, my class does a much better job of looking at the question asked and the information needed to solve the problem. They do much better when it comes to explaining how they got their answers. They write their explanations with more details. I think my FCAT math scores will be much improved.

Julie, 4th Grade Teacher
Seminole County School District

These [Making Sense of Problem Solving] lessons proved to be valuable. The students were engaged in the activities and the teachers were the facilitators. It was amazing watching the students solve the problems, listening to their conversations, and collaboratively working to develop a solution. The teachers often became excited during these sessions and would call me down to their classrooms to watch the positive interactions and see the higher level thinking that was going on in their classrooms.

Irene E. Kelleher
Principal, Sterling Park Elementary School
Seminole County Public Schools, Florida

Having implemented the Teacher to Teacher curriculum, the experience has been quite positive. I observed my students engaged in meaningful problem-solving tasks that aligned with the state standards. I appreciated how the problem-solving tasks included warm-up and extension activities. Additionally, I found value in the consistent language and expectations outlined in the curriculum and its connection to state expectations. The student samples and rubrics provided in the Teacher to Teacher curriculum are a powerful instructional tool as they provide the opportunity for students to critically analyze and process mathematical content. Both my students and I enjoyed the opportunity to solve the problems in the curriculum.

Cami, Principal
Kent School District

I have struggled with the teaching of word problems for the last nine years in grades four through eight. Even though I used learning theories and best practices along with word problems from textbooks, the result always left me with a feeling that something was missing, and that student results could have been better.

Earlier in this school year I tried to keep students on-task with word problems while they worked in small groups. Socializing with one another quickly became more important than solving a problem. So, as the pilot study began I asked students to respond to this question: "Out of the total minutes allowed for preparing, processing, and solving the problem, how much of the time did you spend on the exercise, compared with activities such as visiting?"

The replies were incredibly honest and SHOCKING to me. The students believed they were on task 35% of the time. After we had used the Teacher to Teacher curriculum for six weeks, I asked students the same question again. The students perceived that they were on task 90% of the time. Your curriculum was enormously helpful, and it helped me to create a better problem solving environment.

By the 4th week of the study, my students were utilizing the 'whole package' of problem solving skills, i.e., reading the question first, underlining important words/phrases in the problem, deliberating, visualizing, diagramming and discussing appropriate strategies in small groups.

Bob, 8th Grade Mathematics Teacher
Seminole County School District

There were a lot of hands-on activities to benefit the needs of all students. The inservice was very important. We all benefit from modeling. I appreciated the video of students working on the assigned problems.

Jodi, 4th Grade Teacher
Sayreville School District
New Jersey

My students feel much more confident when approaching an open-ended problem. The students have also improved in their explanations of how the problem was solved.

[The program] provided me with step-by-step suggestions on how to involve students in problem solving. I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I used to when teaching problem solving.

It was helpful to see other teachers interact with students during problem solving [on the inservice video clips]. From listening to their comments while their students were engaged, I was able to model similar instructional strategies in my classroom.

Carrie, 3rd Grade Teacher
Sayreville School District
New Jersey

With the Georgia Performance Standards’ emphasis on problem solving, both routine and non-routine, these Making Sense of Problem Solving books have certainly come in handy. The lessons present students with problems that require "out of the box" thinking. One of my favorite parts of the book is the student work examples. I use these as teaching tools. I highly recommend these books as part of your toolbox!

Brian Butera, Mathematics Teacher
Whitewater Middle School
Fayetteville County Public Schools, Georgia

I try and use [the Performance Task booklets] regularly and find them extremely helpful. I refer to them for all levels (6th, 7th, and 8th grade]. I will usually start my class with the recommended Warm-Ups and then lead into the Performance Task of a particular dimension.

I have been using these books for approximately 3-4 years. I think they are the best single source of Performance Tasks gathered within one book, for all the grade levels in middle school.

Math Teacher

My students felt very confident when they knew we were doing the [Teacher to Teacher] ‘problem solving’. They are able to solve problems a lot better than at the beginning.

[After using the program for nine weeks], I feel confident and feel like I can teach skills to help students solve problems. I like teaching problem solving.

[The inservice] has helped a lot. I am a first year teacher and it gave me a lot of support and taught me strategies. Great program.

Paige, 3rd Grade Teacher
Seminole County School District

After students were involved in the problem solving program for a period of time, they were more comfortable with attacking word problems than before. They no longer voiced, either verbally or with body language, disapproval with the task at hand. They were better equipped with approaching word problems and did not worry that their method of solving the problem was the ‘right way’.

Janice, 4th/5th Grade Teacher
Volusia County School District

[The inservice] has given us a variety of tools to use. It’s gotten us to think out of the box.

I feel more confident teaching and my students feel more confident working on problems. They know the problem is not going to get the best of them. They don’t want the lessons to stop. Math is fun now.

Mary, 5th Grade Teacher
Elementary School
Seminole County SD, Florida

This program has encouraged my students to become better problem solvers. Now, they analyze the problem. They consider all the important information.

Jose Luis, 1st/2nd Grade Teacher
Migrant Education Summer Program

I’ve noticed how much the student enjoy working in pairs or groups. For ESL kids this is a big boost to their comfort level. As they work together they are also having to practice their language skills to explain to their partner so this is helping their communication skills, which is a tough strand for them.

I love watching kids think. The way this program guides kids without telling them they’re right or wrong is great! I want to continue to teach this way and let kids discover their answers and mistakes because that ownership builds confidence and the willingness to try.

Julie, 3rd/4th Grade Teacher
Migrant Education Summer Program

I will go so far as to say, that in our state, I predict that the ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation will be supported greatly by what Teacher to Teacher has to offer to teachers.

It [The Teacher to Teacher Resource Binder] is a user friendly resource, with a tight alignment with our EALR’s [state standards] in Washington. In our after school program for all third and fourth graders at Roosevelt, we use ‘the Art of Problem Solving’ to open the six week [session]. The teachers were thrilled…and my idea for a subtle professional development activity worked.

After going though a scoring process with the teachers, grade 3-5, using Washington State released test items, it was a relief to turn to our Teacher to Teacher problems and have it all in one place. Seeing samples of student work, and then scoring our students’ work together is KEY in the attempt to improve mathematics teaching and learning.”

Math Specialist

Your Oregon Math Performance Task book is an essential part of my math instruction. It is teacher and student friendly and I know that my students’ scores on the Oregon Math Problem Solving Assessment have improved from using the materials in your book consistently during the school year. The practice lessons, leading up to the tasks that students take for a score, familiarize them with strategies and processes that ensure their success. All of the strands are addressed with tasks that are relevant to fifth graders.

5th Grade Teacher

Your materials really help students feel confident and successful right up front—the way it is set up having them solve lower than grade level problems first. This really helps boost their attitudes and confidence from the beginning which I believe is a real hurdle for students and problem solving. I think it also helps that students are first working with the whole group and seeing different problem solving strategies that way, then moving to pairs and then working on their own. By the time they are off on their own they are feeling pretty good about problem solving and have a number of strategies in their bank.

The colored chart stating the problem and the strand at the beginning is the best! It makes it easy and fast for me to find a problem appropriate to what I am teaching. I also love the fact that each problem is correlated to the standards so I know exactly how it fits with what I need to be teaching. The problems are well written and there is a good variety.

5th Grade Teacher

I appreciate that the book hit all the strands so it allows a variety of problems [on which] students can be successful. I’ve noticed that the problems that allow for more pictures … are most beneficial to our Hispanic culture and our hearing impaired.

Last year about 90% of my students passed a work sample.

3rd Grade Teacher

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