Empowered Problem Solving Fall 2017

Two strategies you can implement tomorrow to help your students become better problem solvers.

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Video One: Are you using x-ray vision goggle problems to uncover misconceptions?

Video Two: How can you increase engagement & build conceptual understanding with a single problem?

Video Three: How can 32 students solving 1 problem change your perspective on math education?

Share this video with educators who want their students to be better problem solvers.

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What This Workshop Has To Offer

Module 1: Introduction to Problem-Based Lessons

How will this help me? How do problem based lessons help students develop a deeper understanding of mathematics?  

What will I learn?

  • How students experience math when using problem-based lessons. 
  • How problem-based lessons support the Common Core State Standards. 
  • How to use a tool to support students’ underdeveloped critical thinking skills. 
  • Why we can’t keep teaching the way we always have.  

Module 2: More on Problem-Based Lessons

How will this help me? How do I ensure that my students become true problem solvers and not just math robots?  

What will I learn?

  • What "Pinterest Fails" can teach us about our approach to teaching problem solving.
  • How to avoid common misconceptions about using problem-based lessons. 
  • How you can prepare your students for success when problem solving. 
  • Where you can find many problem-based lessons you can use.  

Module 3: Preparing for Problem-Based Lessons

How will this help me? How do you go from seeing a problem-based lesson you like to one that you are prepared to use?  

What will I learn?

  • How you can maximize student learning when using problem-based lessons. 
  • How to anticipate student problem-solving strategies so that you can use them to help students make connections.
  • How to facilitate discussions around problem-based lessons. 

Module 4: Dealing With Worst Case Scenarios

How will this help me? Will you know what to do if your lesson doesn’t go the way you plan and students struggle?  

What will I learn?

  • How you can better anticipate lesson breakdowns in 60 seconds.
  • How to handle eleven of the most common worst case scenarios when implementing problem-based lessons. (including “What do you do when a student comes up with a strategy for solving the problem that you do not understand?”)

Module 5: Depth of Knowledge in Mathematics

How will this help me? Would you like to challenge all your students and spot hidden misconceptions?  

What will I learn?

  • Why higher Depth of Knowledge problems help challenge students and bring out hidden misconceptions.
  • How the various Depth of Knowledge representations potentially generate misconceptions.
  • How to use a tool that will help students persevere and attempt problems multiple times while developing a growth mindset.
  • Where you can find many higher Depth of Knowledge problems you can use.

Module 6: Advanced Problem-Based Lesson Tips

How will this help me? How will you integrate these strategies into your curriculum?  

What will I learn?

  • How to take the first steps in developing a manageable curriculum instead of the burnout of trying to fit everything in.
  • How to integrate problem-based lessons into your pacing guides and unit plans.
  • How to assess problem-based lessons depending on whether they are being used only in your classroom, as a common assessment, or when you want students to see the rubric ahead of time.

Are you ready for more?

If you've heard enough and are ready to be a part of my six-week online workshop, then I'm excited to have you be a part of it.

The workshop costs $297, less than the registration cost for many large conferences or university teacher education courses.

About Me Hi, I’m Robert. I train mathematics educators who want their students to be better problem solvers. I help them build the tools needed to get students critically thinking and articulating their reasoning.

I do this while continuing to work full time for a K-12 school district in Southern California as a mathematics teacher specialist. It helps me stay connected to current issues in education as a typical month involves me teaching students at multiple grade levels, mentoring teachers, and providing professional development.

Qualifications If you’re wondering about my qualifications, I’ve been fortunate to:  

  • work in K-12 schools since 2003, spending 8 years as a classroom teacher and more recently as a teacher specialist supporting secondary math teachers. 
  • train tens of thousands of educators across the United States and Canada through workshops, keynote presentations, and as an instructor for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). 
  • consult for major textbook publishers including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson.  
  • be published by Education Week and the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  
  • earn my Bachelors of Science in Mathematics / Applied Science (Computer Science) from UCLA in 2000 and my Masters of Education in 2005.

Feedback From Past Workshops

Georgia Department of Education

Macon, GA

During his presentation, Robert provided guidance for overcoming every problem/task-based implementation impediment thrown his way, while simultaneously sharing classroom/coaching tools and modeling exemplary practice. Participants were engaged from start to finish, and left with plenty of resources and fuel for change agency. Robert Kaplinsky should be at the top of every mathematics leader's resource list.

Webster Groves School District

Webster Groves, MO

Robert successfully convinced the room of teachers and leaders that problem-based learning was not only engaging for students, but an essential piece of math learning. He changed the mindset of many from focusing all classroom time on procedural fluency, to providing a balance of procedural fluency, conceptual understanding, and critical thinking in mathematics.

Hillsboro School District

Hillsboro, OR

Hillsboro School District highly recommends Mr. Robert Kaplinsky as a presenter. The tools and resources available are exceptional and have been well received at all levels in the Hillsboro School District... Mr. Kaplinsky's presentation style is exceptional; he is able to break down the complex work of Depth of Knowledge and Problem Based Learning into something practical and tangible that teachers can take back and use the next day in their classrooms.

Maumee Valley Country Day School

Toledo, OH

Robert was a dynamic trainer who presented information in an unassuming, learner-centered way, allowing teacher participants to think about their own teaching and apply the new strategies accordingly. Throughout the two days, Robert modeled sound instructional strategies as he explained the why, the what, and the how of implementing this approach to math instruction.

What My Peers Say About Me

"Robert Kaplinsky is my top recommendation for Depth of Knowledge and problem-based lessons. Kaplinsky gets how to create interesting essential questions that drive learning. Increasing interest and critical thinking are key for creating successful mathematical thinkers. I include his lesson plans and resources in all of my trainings and in my bestselling book 'Teaching Math with Google Apps.' It is my opinion that anything by Robert Kaplinsky is high quality and provides unique content that should be taken advantage of."

Alice Keeler, Teacher, EdTech Blogger, Author

"Robert understands the teaching skills necessary to help students learn challenging mathematics, as well as how to help teachers develop that exact same skillset. Robert is easygoing, empathetic, and he'll challenge you to become the best teacher you can be."

Dan Meyer, TEDx speaker, Chief Academic Officer at Desmos

Bonuses Only Available In This Workshop

Problem-Based Lesson Planning Checklist

To give you a sense of why this would be valuable, if you had to use a problem-based lesson in your classroom tomorrow, would you know what’s essential to get done so you’re ready to go, or what would be very helpful to do if you have more time? I’ll break down everything you need to do in a one-page PDF you can have handy when you need it.  

Problem-Based Lesson Troubleshooting Guide

I’ve made a double-sided problem-based lesson troubleshooting guide for the eleven most common worst case scenarios when using a problem-based lesson including what to do when: 

  • students want information to solve the problem, but you don’t have it. 
  • students correctly calculate their answer, but it doesn’t match the actual answer.
  • students get stuck while problem solving and say, “I don’t get it, what are we supposed to do?”
  • students solve the problem using a method you didn’t anticipate or even worse, using a method you don’t understand. 

I realize that in those situations, you’re not going to want to look back at your course notes. The front side breaks down the issues that happen before students start working on their own and the back side covers the ones that happen after they start working on their own.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Math conferences can be hit or miss, depending on the presenters you see. In the best case scenario, you see many great presenters, but when you only spend 60 to 90 minutes with them, you rarely leave with enough experience to comfortably implement what you learned. In the worst case scenario, you see many mediocre presenters and it feels like a big waste of time.

In contrast, my workshop is an extended experience with specific topics. If you are interested in learning how to implement problem-based lessons and higher Depth of Knowledge problems and like my communication style, then you are likely to be happy with the results. If you are not interested in those topics or don’t see my communication style as a good fit for yours, then you shouldn’t sign up.



When I was a new teacher and still earning units to move over on the pay scale, I took two classes with universities that offered online courses. While it was convenient to take a course without leaving my house, I didn’t feel like what I was learning was current and relevant to what I wanted to do in my classroom. I didn’t know who the instructor was or know if the instructor knew his or her content well.

With my workshop, I hope that you have a much better idea of what you are getting and can see that the learning is current and relevant. I hope you have also gotten to know me and have an idea as to whether I am able to help you implement the strategies you are looking for.



This is not a course where you sign up and then never hear from the instructor again. In addition to sending out weekly emails and videos about what to expect, I will be very engaged on the message board and interact with posted questions and comments. Please email me at [email protected] at any time if you are not receiving the attention you need.



The strategies I share in this course can be applied from kindergarten through high school. I’ve offered this workshop in person as a 4th through 12th grade course, a kindergarten through 5th grade course, and as a 6th through 12th grade course. I just change the examples I share to match their grade levels. That being said, to be as accessible as possible, most of the math problems and student work samples I share in this workshop are from upper elementary and middle school mathematics. So, if you don’t feel comfortable doing mathematics at those grade levels, then this course may not be a good fit for you.



Yes, all videos used in this workshop have closed captions entered by hand. I have reviewed every minute of it to ensure that the captions are correct.



This workshop begins on Monday, September 25, 2017 and ends on Friday, November 3, 2017. There will be an extra two weeks after the workshop ends where you will still have access to the workshop content but I will not be active on the message board. Those two weeks end on November 17, 2017.



No. This workshop is set up so that you can do it at any time of the day or night. While a new part of the course is released each Monday morning, you can complete those lessons at any time.



First, you will receive an email with a receipt shortly after you register. Then, within 30 minutes you will receive a second email from me with information about how to log in to the workshop's website. The workshop will officially begin on Monday, September 25, 2017, so save your username and password to log in then.



You can earn up to three Graduate Level Professional Development Credits through Brandman University, part of the Chapman University System. You must register for EDIU 9007, Digging Deeper: Applying Learning Strategies to earn the units. Please check with your school or district to determine whether these credits are accepted. Note that these credits require additional fees ($90 per unit) and follow-up assignments which you can read about on the registration page.



I'm still working on a smooth way to do this. For now, there are two options:

  • Add one registration to your cart, and register each person, one at a time.
  • Add a registration for each teacher to your cart (so 8 teachers would be 8 workshops in the cart), and check out. Then, email [email protected] with the full name and email address of each teacher you registered.


To register using a purchase order, click on one of the "Yes, I want to enroll" buttons and continue the checkout process. Then on the payment screen, choose the “Purchase Order” option and complete the registration. You should receive an email with a receipt soon after. Once you receive that information, forward it to [email protected] along with your purchase order number.Checks should be made payable to Grassroots Workshops and sent to: 703 Pier Ave Suite B362 Hermosa Beach, CA 90254



I want this workshop to be accessible to everyone. So, please email me at [email protected], explain your situation, and we'll see what we can work out.



If you sign up for my workshop, complete all six modules, and do not learn anything you can implement in your classroom, email [email protected] and you will receive a full refund.



This is an online course, so you need to have an Internet connected device and feel comfortable browsing websites. Most devices including computers, tablets (such as iPads), and phones should have no problem using the site. Please ensure that emails from [email protected] are being received and not going to your SPAM folder. To test whether you are ready to receive emails from [email protected], sign up for emails here. You should receive a confirmation email at the email address you entered within a few minutes.

If you don’t receive the email, your options include:

  • checking your SPAM folder
  • trying a different email address
  • talking with your work’s network if you are using your work email address to ensure that any emails from grassrootsworkshops.com are not being blocked.
If none of those options allow you to receive emails from [email protected], then please email [email protected] and we will work to resolve the issue.


Is This The Workshop For You? 

If this workshop sounds like a good fit for you, then I hope you'll register today before enrollment closes.

The six-week workshop costs $297, which includes all resources and bonuses.

Learning Guaranteed

If you complete my workshop and do not learn anything you can implement in your classroom, then you will receive a full refund.

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