Empowered Problem Solving® Online Workshop

Registration for my next six-week Empowered Problem Solving online workshop opens September 22, 2023 at 8 am Pacific time. This workshop is asynchronous and self-paced with no set meeting time.

You can choose between standard 4-month access for $345 or extended 12-month access for $414. The workshop begins on October 9, 2023 and ends on November 18, 2023. Standard access to the workshop content continues until January 26, 2024 and extended access continues until October 9, 2024.

If you have any questions or need more flexibility, please email me at robert@robertkaplinsky.com.

Registration opens September 22, 2023 at 8 am Pacific time


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What This Online Workshop Has To Offer

Module 1: Why Is Problem Solving So Important?

How will this help me? I'll begin by taking you through a problem-based lesson where I break down the experience from both the student and teacher perspectives.  

What will I learn?

  • What does problem solving look like? 
  • How should students explain what they did? 
  • Why is this change needed?  

Module 2: How Would It Work With My Students?

How will this help me? Next, I'll help you envision what this would look like with elementary, middle, and high school students by using videos of the lessons in action.   

What will I learn?

  • How do students respond to these lessons? 
  • How do I support my students?  
  • Why can’t I use strategies like CUBES? 
  • What does it look like when students can’t apply math? 
  • What should I focus on when teaching? 
  • Where can I find problems to use? 
  • What questions do teachers frequently ask?
  • How do elementary (kinder) students respond?
  • How do high school (pre-calc) students respond?
  • How do I use a problem-based lesson digitally?  

Module 3: How Do I Prepare To Teach A Lesson?

How will this help me? Now, it's time to talk about practical implementation, so we'll discuss how to prepare for success so that you feel confident and ready-to-go.  

What will I learn?

  • Why should we prepare to teach these lessons? 
  • What’s a problem we can practice facilitating? 
  • How do I facilitate a discussion about the problem? 
  • What might that discussion look like? 
  • How can I practice facilitating this discussion?  

Module 4: What If It Doesn't Go As Planned?

How will this help me? I won't avoid the reality that lessons rarely go exactly as we plan. So, in this module you'll learn what to do when these issues happen.  

What will I learn?

  • How can I anticipate lesson failures 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: How Can I Help Students Better Understand Math Concepts?

How will this help me? Students can also learn procedural skills and conceptual understanding through problem-solving, so we'll use Open Middle problems to make it happen.  

What will I learn?

  • How can students get correct answers yet not understand? 
  • How can I support both students who struggle and those looking for more challenge? 
  • How do I help students persevere? 
  • Where can I find more Open Middle problems to use?
  • How do I use an Open Middle problem digitally?

Module 6: How Do I Merge This With What I’m Already Doing?

How will this help me? We'll wrap up the workshop by making sure you feel comfortable integrating these ideas with your current workflow.  

What will I learn?

  • How do we make time for this? 
  • How do I fit this into my pacing plan? 
  • How do I assess problem-based lessons? 
  • What should I tell people who observe me? 
  • How do I stay focused on what’s important?  

My Guarantee


If you complete my workshop and do not learn anything you can use with your students, email me at robert@robertkaplinsky.com within 10 business days of the workshop ending and I will give you a full refund.


I estimate an average of ~3 hours of work each week for the six-week workshop. You have access to the workshop content for 4 months with normal access and 12 months with extended access.


My workshop will be an engaging mix of actionable ideas, thought-provoking reflections, and kinda funny jokes.  

My Empowered Problem Solving workshop is compatible with any device.

About Me Hi, I’m Robert. I’ve been an educator 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. I’m also the author of Open Middle Math: Problems That Unlock Student Thinking and creator of the #ObserveMe movement.


Workshop Participant Testimonials

Workshop Participant Testimonials

“I felt confident this online workshop would be a solid, useful, and enjoyable experience. I wasn’t disappointed. The interactive format, readily applicable strategies and material, sharp production value, and the ability to hit ‘replay’ whenever I wanted, made Robert’s Empowered Problem Solving workshop a worthwhile professional development choice.” – Carole Seubert, Math Instructional Lead Teacher in Upper Marlboro, MD

"Often in a workshop, I hear 1 or 2 things that resonate with me, and, because I teach in a small, private school that has unique characteristics such as no grading, most of it does not apply to me. But every segment of this workshop had moments that resonated with me as a teacher and as a person. Your ideas can be implemented not just in Common Core states, which Virginia is not, not just in public schools, which mine is not, not just in certain types of classrooms, but in any classroom, for any teacher who wants to do a better job reaching and teaching students. You have expanded my sense of what’s possible and what’s necessary for problem-based learning." – Katrien Vance, Teacher in Afton, Virginia  

"This workshop is excellent. I worked on Three Act Tasks and I practiced anticipating outcomes and ordering work. I now use Open Middle Problems with all of my students. I appreciated your feedback and quick email responses. The site was also very easy to navigate and I did it on a cell phone on my commute." – Christina Howard, Teacher in Jackson Heights, NY  

“I’ve been doing a lot of problem based lessons over the course of my career, but it has been really great to see how this workshop is organized in a much more structured and comprehensive manner, where the vast majority of predictable scenarios have been examined and planned for.” – Richard Blatherwick, Teacher in Brooklyn, NY 

"Great job with the sound quality and captions. The audio was crisp and clear. The captions were fantastic. I especially loved how you made sure the audience comments were closed captioned and they had the microphone too! You, also, repeated back the audience comments when we could not hear what they said. These little details really help the Deaf and Hard of Hearing!" – Stephanie Disrude, Teacher in Crescent City, CA

"This is truly the most relevant and useful workshop I have taken. You have carefully thought through all we need to implement problem based lessons. You did a great job in making sense of the levels of Depth of Knowledge. I don’t think I’ve seen a better explanation. For me, this has been transforming. It's exciting and I have revamped the way I do things for my adult learners." – Dee Mallie, Teacher in Elgin, IL  


How Participants Describe The Workshop

What My Peers Say About Me

"Robert is always one of my favorite presenters I like to go see at any conference I attend. He does not disappoint with Empowered Problem Solving. You get to learn from Robert in the comfort of your home and get practical strategies and classroom ideas to help you empower your students to become problem solvers, not just answer getters."

– Christina Tondevold, Online Math PD Facilitator

"Robert’s workshops are some of the most engaging, useful, and well designed math professional development I’ve ever been in. His workshops are ‘low floor, high ceiling’ math pd. They’re accessible to all math educators and allow us to productively struggle with new strategies and activities in order for us to shift our pedagogy and provide a fun, open, and challenging environment for our students."

– Ed Campos Jr., Educator, National Presenter

"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

"I have seen how powerful Robert's Open Middle problems are with my future teachers. He mentions that one Open Middle problem can replace a worksheet and that is absolutely true. Not only does it replace a worksheet but there is so much more critical thinking and curiosity happening when students do these types of problems."

– Howie Hua, Lecturer 

"Robert is an exceptionally dedicated educator, a thoughtful listener, and an powerful builder of community. He understands the challenges that math teachers face every day. Instead of hand-waving or confusing ed-speak, Robert offers teachers and admins concrete strategies for engaging students in meaningful ways. Robert is a math teacher through-and-through, and is one of my favorite people to learn with and learn from."

– Karim Ani, Founder of Citizen Math

How Does My Workshop Compare?

Option Cost University PD Credits Choose your Instructor? Stay with Students? Access to Content
My workshop $345 + $80 per credit 2 to 4 Yes Yes 16 weeks
National math conference $585 + travel expenses 0 Yes No 4 days
University course $725 + materials 4 No Yes 8 weeks

Past Clients

Bonuses Only Available In This Workshop

Live Question and Answer Chat on 12/5/23 at 5 pm Pacific time

While I regularly reply to workshop participants on the message board, I'll also have a live chat that's free to everyone who registers. This will be your chance to ask any other questions you have. I'll also give you a way to ask questions early and I'll record it if you can't be there live.

Problem-Based Lesson Planning Checklist

If you wanted to use a problem-based lesson with your students 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 two-page PDF you can have handy when you need it.  

Problem-Based Lesson Troubleshooting Guide

I’ve made a problem-based lesson troubleshooting guide for the eleven most common worst case scenarios when using a problem-based lesson. I realize that in those situations, you’re not going to want to look back at your workshop notes. So, it breaks down the issues that happen before students start working on their own and the ones that happen after they start working on their own.  

Empowered Problem Solving Workshop Overview

After the workshop's done, you're probably going to want to refer back to what you've learned. So, I've made an overview that has links to all the resources, blog posts, lessons, and videos we'll talk about.

Empowered Problem Solving Executive Summary

I’ve made an executive summary that breaks down the big ideas of what we covered so that you can share it with administrators or colleagues who want you to explain what you learned during the workshop.

Hybrid Implementation Guide

If you’re planning on having educators watch the workshop videos on their own and then discuss the workshop together, then this guide is for you! 

I include three facilitation options, general best practices, and the lessons I'd prioritize if you have limited time. It also comes with discussion questions you can ask to get conversations going.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Learning about the workshop

That's a fair question, so here are my thoughts. Think back to when you used your first real world lesson or Open Middle problem with your students. How did it go? If you're like me, you may have had some good moments but also things you wish went differently. I imagine that as you've used them more often, things have gotten better. Maybe kids are more engaged, conversations are richer, and misconceptions are easier to spot.

What's worth realizing is that the lessons and problems you're using haven't changed, but your facilitation skills have likely grown. My workshop is all about helping build these facilitation skills so that you feel like you've taught a lesson three or four times before you've even used it once.

So while my workshop may not introduce you to many new ideas, it should help you take the ones you're already familiar with and help you implement them even better.

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 want to teach math through problem solving and are interested in learning how to implement problem-based lessons and higher Depth of Knowledge Open Middle problems, then you are likely to be happy with the results. If you are not interested in those topics, then you shouldn't register.

When I was a new teacher and still earning credits 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 with my students. I didn't know who the instructor was or if the instructor knew their content well.

So with my online 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 believe that I am able to help you implement the strategies you are looking for.

My workshop is about strategies you can use to help students deeply understand and make sense of mathematics. The focus is not on the content standards but rather the strategies we can use to teach them. These strategies help all students learn, from kindergarten through high school and beyond.

Previous online workshop participants have spanned the grade levels from early elementary school though middle school, high school, and college. I've got video from lessons with students from kindergarten, eighth grade, and pre-calculus. So, if you're concerned that this workshop won't have strategies you can use at your grade level, don't worry. I guarantee it will and will give you a full refund if you complete the workshop and disagree.

If you're curious because you are less comfortable with math outside your grade level and wonder if my workshop will be a good fit, the problems I use as examples are from the upper elementary and middle school range. Please email me at robert@robertkaplinsky.com if you want to talk about this in more detail.

This is an online workshop, 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.

You will need to have the ability to watch videos and some school districts block websites that play videos. If you can see the video at the top of the page, you're probably going to be fine.

Also, please ensure that emails from info@grassrootsworkshops.com will be received and not go to your SPAM folder.

Yes. Download the flyer here and feel free to share it with others.

Registering for the workshop

To register using a purchase order, click on one of the "Yes, I want to register!!" buttons and continue through the checkout process. Choose the "Purchase Order" payment option, list who Grassroots Workshops should follow up with for payment, and then complete the checkout process.

If you already know the purchase order number, you can enter it then. If you don't, you can leave that field blank and enter it later when you get it.

The person you list as the follow up person should receive an email with a receipt soon afterwards. That person can use the link in the email to submit the purchase order number or pay via check or credit card.

Checks should be made payable to Grassroots Workshops and sent to:
703 Pier Ave
Suite B362
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

I totally get that a two-week window makes registering for my workshop challenging when it takes a long time to get approval from your administrators or school district. In most cases, we can usually find a way to make this work. Email me at robert@robertkaplinsky.com about your situation and we can take it from there.

All you'll need for this are the email addresses for everyone you want to register. Begin by clicking on a "Yes, I want to register!!" button. Then, in the "Order Summary" section, change the number of registrations to the amount you want. Next, enter your "Contact Information" and click on the "Continue" button.

In the next step, you'll have an opportunity to enter the people you'd like to register. Here you can type or copy and paste the email addresses. They can be separated by commas, spaces, semicolons, or returns.

Then just complete the registration process like normal.

I want this workshop to be accessible to everyone. So, please email me at robert@robertkaplinsky.com, explain your situation, and we'll see what we can work out.

You should receive two emails shortly after you register. One email will be your receipt from Grassroots Workshops, where the workshop is hosted. Another email will be from me and will have all the information you'll need to get started. At the bottom of that email will be a button you can click to get started.

If you already have a Grassroots Workshops account, you'll be able to log in. Otherwise you'll get to set up your account and then log in. There you'll be able to check out the welcome video, download the resources including the bonuses, and get ready for when the workshop officially begins.

The workshop experience

This is not a workshop where you never hear from the instructor after you sign up. In addition to sending out 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 robert@robertkaplinsky.com at any time if you are not receiving the attention you need.

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.

No. This workshop is asynchronous and self-paced with no set meeting time. You can do it at any time of the day or night. The only exception is the optional live question and answer chat which will be recorded and uploaded for you to watch later if you can't join it live.

There are just under five hours of video to watch over the six-week workshop. Remember that even though the workshop is six weeks long, you have access to the content for sixteen weeks.

My personal estimates are:

  • Module 1: ~3 hours
  • Module 2: ~3 hours
  • Module 3: ~4 hours
  • Module 4: ~3 hours
  • Module 5: ~2 hours
  • Module 6: ~1 hours

While there is no homework or extra assignments associated with this workshop, I provide several math problems that are very valuable to do. We explore these problems in terms of how students experience them and how teachers facilitate them. There is also an article to read, some activities to do on your own or with colleagues, and a message board you can interact with others on. There are no papers, reports, essays, or other written documents you must do as a part of this workshop.

The only exception is if you sign up to earn graduate level professional development credits. In that case, any work you do will be submitted directly to the University of Massachusetts Global.

After the workshop ends

You can earn two to four graduate level professional development credits through the University of Massachusetts Global. You must register for EDTU 9020: Empowered Problem Solving to earn the credits. Please check with your school or district to determine whether these credits are accepted. Note that these credits require additional fees ($80 per credit) and follow-up assignments.

If you need professional development for your teaching credential/license/certificate, my workshop might be able to help you out. Just go to Grassroots Workshops and check out the information for where you live.

Yes. After the workshop is over, participants will be able to download an electronic certificate of participation (or certificate of completion if you complete the workshop). It will list the date, the number of professional development hours you earned, your name, my workshop's name, and my name. If you need any other information on your certificate, just email info@grassrootsworkshops.com and explain what you need to have added.

If you complete my workshop and do not learn anything you can use with your students, email me at robert@robertkaplinsky.com within 10 business days of the workshop ending and I will give you a full refund.