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Problems of the Month

The Problems of the Month are non-routine math problems designed to be used school-wide to promote a problem-solving theme at your school. Each problem is divided into five levels of difficulty, Level A (primary) through Level E (high school), to allow access and scaffolding for students into different aspects of the problem and to stretch students to go deeper into mathematical complexity. The Problems of the Month were developed by the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative and are aligned to the Common Core standards.

To request the teacher notes that accompany the Problems of the Month, please get in touch with us via the feedback form.

Download the iBook "Jumpstarting a Schoolwide Culture of Mathematical Thinking: Problems of the Month."

  • Engage your teachers & students in problem solving.
  • Learn how to use Problems of the Month in multiple ways.
  • Jumpstart quantitative thinking and mathematical reasoning in K-12 learners!
  • iBook (with video) | PDF (no video)


Overview of Problems of the Month

Classroom Excerpt

  • Why Problem Solving?

    Problem solving is the cornerstone of doing mathematics. George Polya, a famous mathematician from Stanford, once said, "A problem is not a problem if you can solve it in 24 hours." His point was that a problem that you can solve in less than a day is usually a problem that is similar to one that you have solved before, or at least is one where you recognize that a certain approach would lead to the solution. Bu t in real life, a problem is a situation that confronts you and you don’t have an idea of where to even start. Mathematics is the toolbox that solves so many problems. Whether it is calculating an estimate measure, modeling a complex situation, determining the probability of a chance event, transforming a graphical image or proving a case using deductive reasoning, mathematics is used. If we want our student s to be problem solvers and mathematically powerful, we must model perseverance and challenge students with non-routine problems.

  • Getting Started

    The Problems of the Month are designed for school-wide mathematical investigations. You may want to start by reviewing the Problems of the Month Implementation Guidelines (pdf), Scoring Guidelines (pdf), and an index of the mathematical concepts (pdf) addressed by each problem. Feel free to use these sample letters for parents (.docx) and for teachers (.docx).

    Be sure to see how the Anna Yates school (Emeryville, CA) launched their schoolwide conversations about mathematics teaching and learning using the Problems of the Month.

    "Jumpstarting a Schoolwide Culture of Mathematical Thinking: Problems of the Month" is a downloadable practitioner's guide to using the Problems of the Month school-wide. Learn more here.

  • Role of the Principal

    The principal should embrace the concept of problem solving and model problem-solving leadership, being a facilitator of non-routine problems. Begin by reviewing “Jumpstarting a Schoolwide Culture of Mathematical Thinking: Problems of the Month,” a downloadable practitioner's guide to using the Problems of the Month schoolwide.
    Download as iBook with embedded videos (open with iBook app on an iOS device or Apple Reader on a Mac)
    Download as PDF without embedded videos