Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Problem With a Problem Based Curriculum

Gerolamo CardanoImage via WikipediaHere is a great activity for a classroom.  It’s accessible to every student in the class, it can quickly and easily be modified to be more difficult, it leads to dozens of different questions for further exploration.

Now the question is what standards does this problem meet? Obviously, it can meet the need for subtraction in a second grade classroom and easily be modified for use with decimals and fractions for older grades. But what about some higher ordered thinking. (If you don’t think about this then the activity is simply practice in a frilly dress)

Moving to the next blog post we can see some very interesting questions on Algebra.

So now this interesting activity moves from being a lesson practicing the skill of subtraction to an open ended question on creating and proving Algebraic equations.

Then someone goes and suggests using n-gons instead of squares and finding the properties of such a system.

Suddenly, we can see that this simple activity is not only expandable for skill difficulty, but for conceptual difficulty as well. This is an activity I can use with 2nd graders all the way up to college students.

The real questions become:

* What are the actual concepts that I can teach with this activity?
* How do I direct or suggest my students move towards the concepts I want to teach without it seeming like I am directing them that way?
* How do I measure the learning?
* Who comes up with ideas like this and how do I find more?
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