Teaching Through Problem Solving (TTP)


In Teaching Through Problem Solving (TTP), students grapple with a mathematical task that they have not previously learned to solve that embodies the new mathematical ideas or procedures to be learned. Teaching Through Problem-solving is similar to the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Mathematical Discussions by Margaret Smith and Mary Kay Stein that is widely used in the United States. Many of the SFUSD Core Curriculum Lessons are based on this pedagogy.

Many SFUSD Schools use TTP, usually in conjunction with Lesson Study. This work is supported by Professional Learning and Leadership, as well as the Mills College Lesson Study Group.

In a typical Teaching Through Problem-Solving lesson, the teacher starts the class by presenting a mathematics problem and making sure students understand what is being asked. Students write or glue a copy of the problem into their journals and begin solving it. As students work on the problem, the teacher walks around to see their work (often using a clipboard to note down each student’s strategy). Having thought ahead of time about the “line-up” of work at the board that will build the major mathematical ideas of the lesson, the teacher selects several students to present their work and share their thinking at the board. As each student shares their work and the class discusses it, the teacher makes sure that each student strategy and important discussion points are recorded on the board in a way that is easy to read and follow. From comparing and synthesizing the various strategies, the lesson’s new mathematical ideas emerge, and they are summarized on the board. So by the end of the lesson, the board provides a coherent story of the mathematics developed during the lesson. 

Resources for using TTPS with the SFUSD Math Core Curriculum

This page was last updated on June 22, 2023