Problem Solving, Reasoning and Planning for Depth – FREE CPD PowerPoint for Primary School Maths

Maths teaching is tough, and teaching Maths teaching is even tougher. Whether you’re a Maths Lead, a member of SLT or a teacher asked to deliver a CPD session on effective teaching of problem solving, the actual delivery can be a daunting prospect. 

At Third Space Learning we’re not just about providing quality maths interventions for pupils – we’re also about easing the considerable burden on teachers, including CPD. Some of you might already be familiar with the CPD videos on our online Maths Hub; to complement and expand on these, we will be releasing a series of CPD Powerpoints covering a wide variety of maths topics.

More details about upcoming PowerPoints can be found below, but we’ve already released our first CPD PowerPoint for free! Focused on ‘Problem Solving, Reasoning and Planning for Depth’, it’s perfect for covering this difficult topic during a staff meeting or INSET day.

A link to the PowerPoint can be found below, but if you’re looking for a breakdown of what it contains before you download, read on!

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Problem Solving, Reasoning and Planning for Depth - CPD PowerPoint

A selection of slides to help improve teacher's understanding of how to teach problem solving and reasoning.

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Problem Solving, Reasoning and Planning for Depth – Aims of the PowerPoint

While the overall purpose of this CPD PowerPoint is to improve teachers’ understanding of how to teach problem solving and reasoning, this can be split into several distinct aims:

  • Establish a clear definition of what we mean by problem solving and reasoning.
  • Outline the importance of problem solving and reasoning and the benefits of both.
  • Explore some practical strategies.
  • Clarify the principles of how to plan for problem solving and reasoning when approaching maths problems.

The order of these aims also reflects the most effective way to approach the topic; we identify exactly what we mean by the terms involved, why their teaching is important, how to go about teaching them, and lastly how to effectively implement them into your long-term planning.

Problem Solving, Reasoning and Planning for Depth – An Overview

With this order in mind, the slides begin with a series of interactive discussions centered on establishing how staff already approach problem solving, and why it’s important to teach pupils the same skills.

Reference is made to the National Curriculum’s key aims regarding pupils’ fluency with the fundamentals of maths and their ability to reason mathematically to solve problems, with example exam questions from both KS1 and KS2 involving a reasoning element.

tsl cpd ppt exam questions slide

This is followed by a more in-depth discussion of what exactly reasoning is, including how it may be interpreted and how skills such as metacognition can further enhance our reasoning abilities. This leads into a discussion of how to involve reasoning and maths problem solving in every lesson, with advice and examples of the kinds of questions that may be used.

tsl cpd ppt questions slide

From here the PowerPoint shifts to looking at how teachers can plan for deep embedding of problem solving and reasoning in their lessons. Initial focus is on how working together can help children develop problem solving skills, with a particular focus on the wealth of research underpinning this notion.

A wider discussion of how to develop group work in maths follows, with examples of strategies teachers may use. Another discussion considers the ‘curse’ of ‘real-life’ problems, and the importance of providing a range of problems to help pupils develop reasoning skills.

tsl cpd ppt curse of real life slide

The final section of the CPD PowerPoint looks at how staff might practically plan and implement reasoning activities (as well as what should be avoided). Strategies for how a ‘simple’ problem can be adapted to involve reasoning components are covered, and a final activity involves planning out a reasoning activity (of any length) for use in maths lessons next week.

This was just a brief overview of what the PowerPoint contains – download it now to get to get all 52 slides and the guidance attached to each of them!

CPD PowerPoints Coming Soon

We’ll be releasing several more CPD PowerPoints for our Premium Maths Hub users in the near future. Below you’ll find some short summaries of what they’ll be focusing on.

1. Curriculum Design – Blocked Practice Vs Optimal Spacing 

This is about how to plan a curriculum.  By providing children with opportunities to revisit learning has been found to be better.  If learning is revisited too soon after the original learning they don’t need to work hard to retrieve knowledge that they have stored or processed recently.  (Dunlosky et al., 2013). Spacing can be implemented by dedicating part of a lesson to reviewing, re-exposing students to previously learned information or by using cumulative summative assessments.  

2. Mastery in Primary Mathematics

An overview of what mastery is in primary schools.  We look at research into maths mastery and the 7 points the NCETM paper from Oct 14 ‘Confidence and competence’ discusses.  Why we need mastery (ensuring children don’t rush through the curriculum, plugging gaps, making links etc). Also includes tips for planning mastery-based lessons at both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

3. Variation Theory

A slightly more technical CPD session. Starts with identifying what variation theory is and how it can be used to encourage reasoning in pupils. Comes with lots of examples to work through with the staff!  

4. Maths Talk and Questioning in Maths

Covers mathematical thinking, variation, scaffolding sentence starters to help pupils structure their ideas and more! Provides ideas of how to support memory of mathematical vocabulary (dingbats, etymology of words), ideas on enquiry and elimination and examples of barrier games.  Also discusses top questioning strategies to use (e.g. key problem solving maths questions as learning objectives, if this is the answer… what is the question?, just one more question).

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