Productive Struggle

  • Supporting Students' Productive Struggle (Grades Pk-12)

    Description: This workshop takes a deep dive with productive struggle. It develops understanding of productive struggle through the lens of grades K-12 mathematics. It supports the learning of teachers, coaches, school-based, and district-based administrators. Major topics include: laying the foundation, establishing goals and selecting tasks, provoking and supporting struggle, misunderstandings matter, questioning, apply it. Though connected, each topic answers specific questions to tell the story of productive struggle. The workshop content is based on the NCTM series: Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices.

    Outcomes: The following questions will be addressed throughout the workshop

    What is productive struggle?

    Why is productive struggle so important to students' mathematical learning?

    How do we support productive struggle for each and every student?

    The questions below address the different components of the workshop:

    Laying the Foundation

    What is productive struggle and why does it matter?

    What does productive struggle look like in a classroom?

    How do we create an environment for nurturing productive struggle?

    What are student and teacher behaviors of productive struggle?

    What is the difference between productive and destructive struggle?

    Establishing Goals and Selecting Tasks

    How do I establish mathematics goals within trajectory of learning?

    What are the characteristics of a good task and how do I select them?

    How do you anticipate where students might struggle?

    How do you implement tasks with fidelity? How do I support productive struggle without reducing the demands of the task?

    Provoking and Supporting Struggle

    How do you adapt tasks?

    How do I respond to students that have unfinished learning?

    How do I accommodate students who are able to extend their understanding beyond the learning goal?

    What does students' struggle look like when it's not productive and how do you navigate it?

    Misunderstandings Matter

    How are student misunderstandings and productive struggle connected?

    How can I anticipate and address what misunderstandings students will have?

    How do I interpret student work?

    How can I begin to move student learning forward without telling too much?


    How should I react to my students' struggles?

    What are the types of questions and the patterns they form?

    How can revoicing and paraphrasing support productive struggle?

    How can we move students forward when their learning is not yet finished?

    Apply It!

    What big ideas about productive struggle resonate with me?

    What do others in similar professional roles think about productive struggle?

    What actions will I take to enhance productive struggle in my classroom, building, or district?

    Why is it important to address productive struggle coherently as part of a systemic learning culture?

    Content addressed (this is dependent on the grade band): Place value, addition, subtraction, fractions, multiplication, division, algebraic thinking and geometry

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    4-5 Days

    Focused Workshop


    Admin consultation




    Focused workshop delivered virtually

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