 
Problem of the Week Guidelines
Introduction
Problems of the Week (POW) are
not intended to have quick or simple answers. A large part of the learning from
attempting problems such as these comes from the indepth thinking required to
address each part and thinking back about how you solved the problem after you
have finished it. You will find yourself thinking about how you are thinking
about the problem if you fulfill these requirements.
If two or three students wish to work on a POW together, they may, but they
will need to identify the contributions of each person to the effort of solving
and presenting the problem. If you wish credit, you must have the
POW turned in to your teachers before the solution is posted, which generally
means Friday. Then, follow the format below to solve the problem. Your final
submission must be done on a computer, but you may draw graphics and charts by
hand. Prior to turning in the problem, you must use assign yourself a score. The
first couple of times you do this, see Ms. Allen or Mr. Fincher to give you a
better handle.
Get your problem from the current
Prealgebra POW at the Math Forum, solve it using the guidelines below.
Problem Statement
In your own words, write what the problem is about. Write clearly
enough so that someone picking up your paper could understand exactly what you
were asked to do. Be sure to include all the necessary details.
Process
Plan
Before you start solving the problem, make a plan.. How does
the problem seem to you? Describe your first impression of the problem. Is it
similar to others you have done before? Think about the various problemsolving
strategies you have used before. Describe the mathematical strategies
you plan to use to solve this problem. (Reading the problem over ten times and
getting out paper/pencil are not mathematical strategies!!) Make a
prediction of the answer(s). If you don't have any idea, make a guess anyway.
Reasoning and Work
Describe in detail how you went about solving the problem, even if you
don't think you got a right answer. Explain your reasoning so that someone else
could use your method(s) to solve the problem. Also include a discussion of the
following:
 How well did your plan work?
 Were the strategies you selected effective for solving this problem? Why
or why not?
 If you got stuck, describe what you did to get “unstuck.”
 Did you talk to anyone about the problem? If so, how did that help or
hinder you?
Include all work: calculations with explanations, any diagrams,
charts, sketches you used, etc.
Solution
State the answer(s) to the problem. What makes you think you got it right?
Why do you think it makes sense? How does this answer compare to what you
predicted? Did you find all the possible answers? How do you know? (Convince
the reader! Saying you checked your answer a million times and asked all of
your friends is not convincing!) How long did it take you to find an
answer?
Evaluation
How did you feel while working on this problem? What did you like or not
like about working on this problem? Why? On a scale from 15, how would you
rate this problem for difficulty? Why? What did you learn from this problem
that could help you solve other problems? What new thoughts do you have about
the problem after solving it? How is this problem related to real life? State
your opinions and include reasons.
Problem of the Week Scoring Rubric
4 
Well done  Problem Statement in own words.
Demonstrates effective use of strategies. Explanations are clear and
thorough. Reasoning makes sense; effective mathematical arguments are used.
Work contains no computation errors. Fulfills all requirements for
submission. 
3 
Acceptable  Problem Statement in own words.
Some use of strategies. Explanations could be improved with more detail
and/or clarity. Reasoning makes sense; moderately effective mathematical
arguments are used. Work may contain minor computation errors.
Fulfills most requirements for submission; errors and omissions are minor. 
2 
Revision needed  Problem Statement not in own
words. Limited use of strategies. Explanations are incomplete and/or
unclear in places. Reasoning makes some sense, but may show
misunderstanding or need rethinking. Work contains computation errors. 
1 
Restart  Problem Statement is copied. Little
or no use of strategies. Explanations are incomplete, unclear,
inappropriate. Reasoning shows misunderstanding or doesn't make sense.
Work contains major computation errors. 
Does your POW writeup include...

You

Peer

Teacher

Problem statement section
 Problem Statement
 Problem rewritten in your own words?
 All necessary details?




Plan
 First impressions? Description of similar problems solved?
 Description of mathematical strategies for solving the problem?
 Explanation of how the strategies will be used?
 Prediction of a solution?'
 Plan that could lead to a solution?




Reasoning and Work
 Description of each step of the reasoning process?
 Calculations with explanations (where appropriate)?
 How strategies described in the plan were used?
 Charts, graphs, diagrams where needed?
 Description of any help you received?
 Mathematical understanding of the problem?




Solution
 Solution with label? (Some problems may require multiple answers. Make
sure you give all possible answers or, if the number of answers is extremely
large, tell how to know when you have found an answer.)
 Explanation of why solution makes sense (is correct)?
 Convincing? (Alternate approach used to verify)
 Consideration of other correct answers?
 Amount of time spent on problem?




Evaluation
 Description of your thoughts and feelings while working the problem?
 Rating (15, with five being high) with reasons?
 Explanation of what was learned from doing this problem?
 Explanation of how this problem is related to real life?




POW Evaluator 
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Page last updated
02/26/04 