Day 8: Problem-Solving Folders

Students get scared of long-winded problems.  For example, this problem doesn’t even have the questions yet, but they freak out!

crop duster

I used the same activity about the Crop Duster as last year to start out this block class activity.  The premise is to get students to think about the situation without initially knowing what the questions about the situations are.  Once they organize the information into “What is known?” “What are the possible mathematical relationships?” and “Sketch the situation” students are then given the actual questions to solve.


In using the follow-up activity, I’ve found that the hardest thing for students to determine are the potential mathematical relationships.  Once they have the question, they totally forget these relationships and almost blindly try to solve without thinking about them.  This activity slows them down and gets them really thinking about the mathematical constructs in the problem.  They also learn that all potential mathematical relationships may not be used, but recognizing them helped clarify how to approach the questions.

20150916_110225  20150916_114758 20150916_115954 20150916_110835

I hope to do this activity with different function types throughout the year so that I have some student work examples for a presentation I hope to give at the Texas Instruments International Conference in Orlando Florida next February. Here is my submission:

Using a Problem-Solving Activity To Develop Mathematical Habits of Mind

Have you ever wondered how to help your students to think thoughtfully about a non-routine problem situation before diving in to solve it? Or help them persevere during the needed productive struggle phase? Or encourage students to use meta-cognition during and after the problem-solving process? So did I!! This student-centered problem-based collaborative learning activity requires students to read the problem thoughtfully and then obliges them to work and think together to organize what they know (including a graphical representation) generate questions determine an answer and finally communicate the solution in a cohesive and understandable way. Come and enjoy the fun!

I’m a little nervous at this point, but I know as the year progresses I’ll have more student work to share and some suggestions for how to use in other classes besides precalculus.

What professional risks are you planning to take on this year?


Posted on September 17, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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