Math Problem-Based Learning for Middle Schoolers

11 November, 2016

What is problem-based learning (PBL)? It’s a student-centered instructional practice where students learn the content through investigation of an open-ended problem. It’s growingly becoming important in instruction because it provides for real-world connection of the content and opportunities for differentiation and critical thinking. If you haven’t stepped onto the PBL train with you students, here are some great resources to get started!

Rationale for Use in Middle School Math

If you are unfamiliar with how PBL can be used and why it should be used in middle school math classrooms, this research article is a perfect starting point. It thoroughly explains the potential of active learning, the diverse opportunities from problem investigation, and assessment that leads to quality learning.

Examples of PBL in Middle School Math Instruction

Geometric Sculpture Project:  Students will explore the applications of Geometry in creating 3-dimensional art.

Toro Dream House:  Understanding by design is applied in this unit where students use their knowledge of area, length, width, and scale to design their own dream house.

A Job Designed Just For You:  Have potential advertising executives in your class? Students will act as they are applying for advertising positions and analyze the relationships of math with aesthetics and marketing in media.

The Power of Food:  This is a great collaborative project with math and health. Students will analyze healthy food choices with data collection in a food diary.

Will I Stay or Will I Leave:  Teach students about careers at the same time as teaching them about math! In this project, students act as a city planner and research data and create graphs for a presentation on addressing city growth issues and concerns.


Do you have a favorite problem-based unit to use with math students?


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