Sunday, October 31, 2010

Toaster Questions: more ways to teach Math

Toaster Question from David Cox on Vimeo.

In another great blog post by Dan Meyer, I found this video by David Cox. Watch it and see if you don't wonder what you should do with it.

In a previous post on Dan's TED talk, I learned that the way we pose math problems to kids can be limiting and convergent. Since viewing his TED talk I have tried to use his strategy in my everday math classes. It has been fun to have such a powerful strategy. I have not created videos for these lessons, I have just been making up examples that are open ended and missing enough information that the kids have to assist in creating the problem.

One simple example of my earliest attempts is this question:

John wants to have a bath and fills the tub partially (a fraction) full with hot water. He soaks for a short time and then decides the water is not hot enough. While he has been soaking his sister has had a long shower and drained most of the hot water. He adds another fraction of a full tub with colder water. How much of a full tub does he have and what is the temperature of the water after the second fill?

Some of the variables the students mentioned and asigned a value were:

  • first fractional fill
  • second fractional fill

  • temperature of the water, first fill, second fill

  • volume of John's body

  • temperature of the room

  • volume of the tub

This is really fun for me and the students look forward to the divergent thinking and creating of the problem.

Back to the toaster problem, it took me a moment to think how this could be used in my class, but it has great potential. How would you use this in your math class?

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