Teaching for understanding demands that we present students with authentic problem contexts AS they acquire essential knowledge and skills. Instead of presenting all possible content that students may need in a given situation up front, effective teachers provide students with real world dilemmas and supplement with content along the way. To this end, Dan Meyer has created an excellent set of math problems (CLICK HERE TO CHECK USE THEM) that help teachers provide students with challenging problems. My recommendations for using this set of problems include the following 3 points:
- Provide students with problems AT THE BEGINNING of a unit of study. As they struggle to make meaning of the problem, look for misconceptions that you can debunk during the unit of study.
- Return to the same problems over and over throughout the unit as this creates "hooks" for new content. For example, say, remember when you couldn't figure out which container would hold more? Well, the best way to figure this out is to use math!
- Create a learning environment where students feel comfortable trying out different solutions with their peers. The best problem solvers "fail early and often" so that they can arrive at the best answer more quickly.
CC Photo Credit: Untitled by Aquopshilton