Open Middle Math

Problems That Unlock Student Thinking, Grades 6-12

Imagine that you assign a math problem and your students, instead of getting discouraged after not solving it on the first attempt, start working harder—as if on a quest to figure out the answer. They talk to each other and enthusiastically share their discoveries. What could possibly make this fantastic scenario come true? The answer is: the Open Middle math problems and strategies in this book.

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“This book is an amazing resource for teachers who are struggling to help students develop both procedural fluency and conceptual understanding.” 

—Dr. Margaret (Peg) Smith, co-author of
5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions

Robert Kaplinsky is the co-creator of Open Middle math problems, a new class of tasks designed to stimulate deeper thinking and lively discussion among middle and high school students. The problems are characterized by a“closed beginning,” meaning all students start with the same initial problem, and a “closed end,” meaning there is only one correct or optimal answer. The key is that the middle is “open”in the sense that there are multiple ways to approach and ultimately solve the problem. These tasks have proven enormously popular with teachers looking to assess and deepen student understanding, build student stamina, and energize their classrooms.


  • PROFESSIONAL LEARNING RESOURCE FOR TEACHERS: Open Middle Math is an indispensable resource for educators interested in teaching student-centered mathematics in middle and high schools consistent with national and state standards.
  • SAMPLE PROBLEMS AT EACH GRADE: The book demonstrates the Open Middle concept with sample problems ranging from dividing fractions at th grade to algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.
  • TEACHING TIPS FOR STUDENT-CENTERED MATH CLASSROOMS: Robert Kaplinsky shares guidance on choosing problems, designing your own problems, and teaching for multiple purposes including formative assessment, identifying misconceptions, procedural fluency, and conceptual understanding.
  • ADAPTABLE AND ACCESSIBLE: The tasks can be solved using various strategies at different levels of sophistication, which means all students can access the problems and participate in the conversation.

Open Middle Math will help you transform 6-12 math classroom into an environment focused on problem solving, student dialogue, and critical thinking.

“Robert offers teachers strategies for adding openness and richness to problems that are at first closed and meager. So take heart, teachers! The interest and learning of your students aren't dictated by the problems in your textbook as you first find them. Only by your imagination and design.”

—Dan Meyer


eBook Available Through Major Retailers

We offer ebook editions for most of our print titles so you can access on your computer, tablet, or e-reader from several major retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, OverDrive, and View the full list of retailers here. For eBook purchases of 10+ please email us for a quote. Purchases of 20+ qualify for a bulk discount.

If you previously purchased an ebook from, they will remain available in your digital library. 

About the Author(s)

Robert Kaplinsky has worked in education since 2003 as a classroom teacher, teacher specialist for Downey Unified School District, instructor for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and presenter at conferences around the world. He’s also the co-founder of the website


Product Details

Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Year: 2019
Item No: 1174
ISBN: 978-1-62531-174-0
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers