Persistent Problem Solving

A question I have been asked frequently is, “What should the common core look like in practice?”  In my opinion there is no one right answer to that question.  However, the common core’s eight standards for mathematical practice suggests that it should not be business as usual.

The first of those eight standards requires students to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.  For me, this suggests the need for problems that are something other than the word problems in textbooks.  They need to be engaging, perplexing, and present a challenge to students.  For older students a good source of this type of problem can be found in Dan Meyer’s blog, dy/dan. His 3 Acts videos entitled Hot Coffee,  Incredibly Shrinking Dollar, and Domino Skyscraper are just a few examples of this type of problem.  Meyer poses non-routine problems in an engaging manner without immediately disclosing every detail necessary for students to solve the problems.  Determining the important information needed to solve each problem should be a part of the students’ discovery process and is a critical component of sense making.

We, at ESSDACK, are looking forward to meeting and learning more about “Real World Math” from Meyer on February 6, 2012.

Hi, I am Renee' Smith and I began teaching math in, of all places, a maximum security prison. “I was 21 years old and 99 lbs. soaking wet. Some of my students were convicted murderers and as scary as it sounds, it was incredibly sad. Many of those men had failed in the school system and then turned to crime.” That early experience with public school dropouts, cemented my resolve to help future students understand and succeed in the area of mathematics. To that end I dedicated 16 years to the classroom, teaching 5th grade math through algebra. After obtaining my Masters in Education from Baker University, I joined the ESSDACK team in 2007. I have presented at the local, state, and national levels but my most worthwhile experience at ESSDACK has been working to take the fear out of math for teachers and students alike. Although my primary focus has been providing professional development in mathematics, I also devote time to podcasting and creating materials for teachers to use in their classrooms. My podcasts include, By the Numbers, Just Desserts and Math Snacks. Working at ESSDACK has provided me the opportunity to do many of the things I love. “I have the time to research current educational practices, I get to be creative, collaborative, and I meet tons of new people."

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