Today was awesome–not only was I super-energetic after having some down time over the weekend, but I finally started one of the projects I am excited about trying out with my students this year. Last week, I blogged about the “PoW Planet Project”, a joint effort between the Math Forum at Drexel and me to bring teachers and students from around the world together with problem solving and math. It all started in my class today with my introducing the “problem of the week” (PoW). For those of my readers who are actually subscribers to the Math Forum PoWs, we are doing the last summer Algebra problem, titled “Eating Contest”.
What’s the Scenario?
I talked to my kids about the importance of of reading a math problem before attempting to solve it. This seems pretty basic, but I know for a fact that this is a primary reason why kids struggle with word problems. They rush through to the question and try to answer it without taking the time to thoroughly examine the problem for important info. One of my favorite features of my PoW subscription is the “scenario” pdf file included with each problem. Basically, the “What is _______?” part of the problem is taken away, leaving only the situation or setup that provides all the needed information for some unknown question. After attending a Math Forum workshop the summer before last, I learned that you can guide students in interpreting the scenario by using the prompts “I notice…” and “I wonder…”
We did a think-pair-share activity to brainstorm about the PoW scenario. I had a lot of fun using a song to limit the “think” and “pair” time–one that I thought was appropriate for researching a “Scenario” (see video above); what can I say? I love hip hop! So do the kids–while they had a great time laughing at me dancing in classic hip hop fashion, they enthusiastically read through the problem and came up with some pretty good observations. I had them tweet for the “share” part of the activity using the hashtag #powplanet. I think the scenario activity is a great one that can be done with any word problem by simply removing the last sentence or couple of sentences where the question is usually presented. Some of my kids had a really hard time dealing with this, wanting to rush to answer, even though there was no question being asked. I can’t wait to see how they process the PoW over the course of this week–stay tuned, and I’ll tell you all about it!
See you tomorrow!