Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall 2010 UTeach PBI Class 5- Sept 9: Planning Nets

Class began with students continuing to work on the "Rescue at Boone's Meadow" (RBM) problem. After about 25 minutes groups began to arrive at answers. A few groups presented their solutions to the class. Most solutions were similar, and involved a combination of plane-flying and car-driving to solve the problem. One issue that came up was the iterative cycle of the problem solving process. Dr. Petrosino also brought up issues of "max-mim" problem solving strategies as well as multiple solution paths. Students presentations were well done and articulate.

Returning to the RBM problem, Dr. Petrosino explained that the best predictor of success in school is reading, and that one of the goals of a video-type anchor video is to remove reading from the equation while engaging students in math. He then contrasted the RBM problem (with 16 or so steps) to a “traditional” math problem with 2-3 steps. Students were asked to attempt to break down the RBM problem into its “steps” with their group; answers were recorded in a document in class (see picture).

Dr. Petrosino was trying to establish as few things. First, he wanted students to be aware of a formal way of representing the solution to a complex problem. It's one thing to talk about it, it's another thing entirely to represent the solution as a formalism. Second, Dr. Petrosino is trying to continually emphasis the important role that design plays as an instructor/teacher. He wants his UTeach students to be more than mere consumers of instruction and curriculum--- he wants them to be designers. Finally, Dr. Petrosino is trying to scaffold (support) the process of design as he "gives" students various representations but then asks them to create their own planning nets. For homework, Dr. Petrosino gave the students 1 week to create a planning net for the circumference of the earth problem (Eratosthenes problem) completed last week.

Afterwards, Dr. Petrosino highlighted the use of the blog as a resource, pointing out some links (including a solution) that were related to the RBM problem. He also explained that the blog is a nice narrative of what is actually done in class in contrast to the plan presented by the syllabus. The blog is a good resource for students who miss class as well as people who are interested in the UTeach program. Dr. Petrosino pointed out a resource for students that documented how students tried to solve the problems and compared to college students and posted this paper on the Blackboard site.

Paper comparing 6th graders to college students in solving RBM problem:

Jasper Solution Space

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