Thursday, August 30, 2012

Problems, Problems, Problems

We are nearing the end of the first FULL WEEK of school. I am very impressed with how hard my students are working. We have gotten past the REVIEW and have started working on some NEW skills. In ALGEBRA, we attempted to do some Critical Thinking and problem solving with the "Mars Rover Problem". In all honesty, I can say it didn't go very well. This problem came from the Futures Channel. It was a great APPLICATION of ALGEBRA in the real world dealing with why the Mars Rover has 6 wheels instead of only 4. Getting the students to problem solve was not easy. Students hate the traditional word problems like "Train A leaves the station and travels west at blahblahblah...." BUT, they really hate these REAL WORLD problem solving applications. My theory why? Because they're hard! This PROJECT asks students to use a couple of GIVEN PROBABILITY EQUATIONS and given measurement numbers to analyze the engineering design of an object.Then with that information the are asked to draw conclusions to anser the DRIVING QUESTION. It's HARD WORK!

My Geometry students are also struggling a little with our "Interior Decorating" project. It's not easy to plan and organize a MATH PROJECT. However, I am determined to help my students learn to REALLY THINK!

It's sad to say that students have not been TAUGHT to problem solve or think critically as much as they need to. It's not their fault. It's not their teachers fault either. Our society is so driven by the "Standardized Test" , we don't get to much real world CRITICAL THINKING. We are too busy teaching "Drill Work". Just because a student can solve 5x + 7 = 32, doesn't mean he can think critically or is prepared to be a "Productive Citizen" upon graduation.

Hanging Pictures on a WALL is a very low level basic skill. It's not a skill that's going to make you rich. It's not a skill that will get you a scholarship or admitted to colleger. It's not a STEM problem. However, it is a useful skill and truly is a REAL LIFE application. It takes some planning, organization, and practical skills with a Tape Measure. YES, IT IS A MATH PROBLEM and specifically a GEOMETRY problem. It is WAY beyond identifying a Ray, Line, or Plane and is infinitely more useful.

Well, enough rambling for one night! Tomorrow, we forge ahead. We will collect Notebooks, Weekly Progress Reports, Reflections, and Life Skills Evaluation for a grade. Then we ge back to work on some Critical Thinking Skills and TEAM PROJECTS. I love my students and look forward to the challenge!

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