In the past week, I have received two e-mails regarding best practices for using non-standard problems-of-the-week. Thus, it seemed only appropriate that I use these e-mails as a way to request input from others who have found successful ways to get students to explore these problems.
E-Mail #1 from S.W. (Lake Washington):
"Thanks for putting these problems up every week....doing one of these problems each week has helped me remember why I wanted to become a math teacher..... I also give these problems to my advanced algebra class for extra credit. I get a few responses back from inspired students, but no correct answers so far. Any tips on using these in high school classes? Iím cautious about doing a lot of scaffolding, both because of time and because I think it takes the fun out of it."
E-Mail #2 from D.K. (Seattle):
have been giving my 8th graders POW's. I know it's the final weeks of
school, but I liked the idea so much that I thought I would try it
out. I have taken them from your MathNEXUS page and they have really
stimulated some great conversations among my students. I'm wondering
how you use them with your students and how you would suggest
assessing them? Do you grade them based on attempting the problem? Do
you give them the answers? So far, few students have been able to
solve them on their own and I usually end up giving credit for various
strategies attempted. The students talk about them in class but very
rarely do they feel the satisfaction of solving them. If they get some
parts of the problem, I sometimes give hints but I don't want to give
them the answer. There seems to be a fine balance between giving them
problems where they feel success in the completion and problems that
leave them hanging, and then when they are left hanging, some of them
end up thinking more on them and others seem to give up out of
So, here is the problem for this week....how would would respond to these two mathematics teachers? Theye raise great concerns (e.g. credit, assessment; help)...and need your creative-yet-practical advice.
Please send me your responses, and I will post them on this web site. So far, no one has submitted a response or any ideas....Please think about it and help out. THANKS!
Hint: Send in your responses!