Challenge of the Week

Link to a FREE copy of all of my Challenge of the Week problems and an answer key.

One of my favorite things I do each week is creating a Challenge of the Week problem for my middle school mathematicians. It is optional for students to give it a try, but I've found that just by adding the word challenge and hyping it up a little bit...kids love to give it a shot! The problem is always an extension of what we are studying that week in class. I put each new challenge up on Monday morning and students have until the end of the day on Thursday to turn in their solutions to the turn in basket pictured. We go over the challenge every Friday after our daily warm-up problem. Students who answered the problem get a small prize (mints in my classroom!) and the recognition of solving the Challenge of the Week! Enjoy!

Here was one of our first Challenge of the Week problems this year during our fraction multiplication unit.

Go Badgers...Wisconsin sports is a fairly common them in my classroom!

After multiplying fractions, we moved on to multiplying and dividing mixed numbers. I love how this problem really makes them work backwards and think about the process of multiplying fractions and mixed numbers!



As we moved into our rates and ratios unit, this problem was one of the more challenging this year.

My students get to know my love of baseball pretty early on in the year!

Another challenging rates and ratios problem. Especially letter c...



Here was a great problem that I used during our percents, fractions, and decimals unit a few weeks ago.



Another Problem of the Week from our percents, fractions, and decimals unit! This one was from later in the chapter when we learned how to find the percent of a number.


For our shortened Thanksgiving week, I got creative and researched some crazy Thanksgiving statistics. Seems like a lot of turkey per person, but I guess the stats don't lie!


Here is a challenge that relates to order of operations! I also had to show one of my students responses because of how complex it was. I love it when I see things like this in sixth grade! On the left is the problem of the week. On the right is one of my the student's response. I rewrote it so that I could go through it with all of my classes. They loved the challenge of having to use order of operations to solve such a complicated problem!













After introducing algebraic expressions at the beginning of our algebra units, here was a challenge of the week that I had A LOT of students try!


As we continued our units of algebra, here is a challenge of the week that I had students try BEFORE we learned about two-step equations. I liked the writing aspect of this problem, as well as how open-ended it is!


Once we learned about two-step equations, I made our challenge of the week a little tougher...fractions AND decimals!


More two-step equations! This challenge of the week was also a great review of dividing fractions and mixed numbers from the start of the year.



This challenge of the week involved finding a two-step rule for the function table!


This problem was as we were nearing the end of our algebra units. I like how it brought together everything that we had been learning about...equations, function tables, and graphs!


On to solving inequalities! This problem was before we had learned about solving two-step inequalities.


Two-step inequalities with fractions! This was a tricky one for the sixth graders!


This challenge of the week was just prior to learning how to find the measure of a reflex angle. I had a lot of students who remembered to subtract from 360 degrees!


This one was one of my favorites! Some students surprised me by finding angle C first. I hadn't even thought to solve it that way!


This problem sparked a fun discussion of the names of different polygons...including a megagon (1,000,000-sided polygon).


Translations, reflections, and rotations! Putting it all together! The rotation step was tricky for my students because most of the examples we did in class were rotated around the origin!


Moving on to areas...this problem was just after learning about how to find the area of parallelograms and triangles!


More work with areas! I really enjoyed creating these area challenge problems!


Putting it all together with a composite area problem. This was challenging with the two semi-circles!


Composite volumes...combining what we learned about finding the volume of rectangular prisms and pyramids!


This might have been my favorite problem to create! Who doesn't want to solve a problem with a floating pyramid inside of a rectangular prism!


25 comments :

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  2. This is great, I am going to do something like this with my 4th graders!

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  3. Great! I really like coming up with these problems each week. The best part is the idea can be adapted for pretty much any classroom!!

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  4. Do you have these challenge problems typed up as posters? Or a set of them for sale?

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    1. Unfortunately I don't have them typed up right now! It is on my to do list though! :)

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  5. Love this! Anyway I could email you? I have a question about the solution to the question with double brackets, where y is 8.

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    1. Definitely...my email is middleschoolmathman@gmail.com

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  7. I love your challenge problems, but the 9th one down (green marker) should be Evaluate, not Solve

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    1. Ooh thanks for catching that! I will have to change it once I get that one up again this year in my classroom! :)

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  8. HI there, i am following your post, here in INDIA. Loving it all.

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    1. Thanks! Glad you found my blog and are enjoying reading it! Are you teaching?

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  9. I am so excited to try this in the upcoming school year with my seventh and eighth grade students!

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  11. I love your Challenge of the Week problems! I downloaded a copy of the problems on TpT and will definitely be using some of them in the future. I have been doing something similar in my sixth grade classroom this year and it has been working very well. The most "popular" problem this year was an Alphametics that I found in a math puzzle book that I have called "Math Puzzles and Brainteasers Grades 6-8" by Terry Stickels. It has a lot of great problems.
    I was wondering about the tally marks that can be seen below the challenge problems in some of your photos. Do you keep track of how many students successfully solve the challenge problems? Just wondering, it looks like an interesting way to motivate students to work on the problems. My challenge problems are optional and I would like to figure out some ways to encourage more students to try solving them.
    Math to the 7th Power

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    1. Great! Thanks for the book suggestion!

      As for the tallies...it is completely random haha. I tend to drop my marker a lot during class, and my students give me a hard time. A few years ago, a student suggested we keep track of it. So we did...and then we used the stats a few times for statistics problems, etc.

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  12. This is one of the best things I've discovered in my career (35 years and counting)! THANK YOU! I've expanded the challenges for my 6th graders to include questions from retired ACT tests. The Challenge of the Week allows the students who thrive on challenges to reach beyond what we're doing in the classroom. It allows me to expose the kids to skills that I usually don't get to. It allows ALL my students to try without a penalty for getting it wrong. I LOVE THIS!! Thanks!!

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    1. Thank you for such kind feedback! :) I also like the "no pressure" aspect of the challenge problems. I love it when I see one of my lower students trying the challenge problem without the fear of getting marked down if they get it wrong!

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  13. I really like this idea! One question: do your students have to submit their work on their own paper, or do you give them a sheet with the problem on it?

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    1. I just put a pile of scrap paper next to the Challenge turn-in basket or they can use their own paper. I don't print out the problem for them.

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  14. I give challenges on the spot and have them try individually for 5 minutes. I see that you give them several days. How do you keep them from sharing answers with peers?

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    1. I haven't had many problems with them sharing answers with these (I've had that problem more when I do a Math Joke of the Week where they can guess!). However, I do allow them to work together on the challenges as long as they fill out their own work/answer sheet.

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