The Problem of the Day asks: How can we design math learning activities that generate student understanding?
This is where our focus should always be, but it is so easy to fall into the idea that you need to first have kids work on the what I like to call "Plain Janes" - just the basic operations or procedures.
Hoffer hits the nail on the head when she talks about the juicy problems being at the end of the chapter and we run out of time to get to them (p.39) That has happened to me more times than I can count! But those "juicy problems" are where the math all makes sense! If your students are asking "why do I have to learn this?" all the time, I don't think they CAN take ownership of their learning.
Another thought about the tasks is this is exactly where you can differentiate (please bear with me, I still consider myself a new teacher!) not in the teaching, but in what students are asked to do. Again, I really like the way Hoffer lays out the way to modify existing tasks (p. 42) this would work great by having all students work on the "same problem" but just a little bit differently so that when you come back to reflect as a class everyone can understand and participate in the discussion.