Today is the day. Today I began mapping out what I currently teach in Algebra 1 and Algebra 2: objectives covered, examples used, projects taught, etc. Tomorrow I plan to start replacing current lessons I teach with projects and/or problem-based lessons. My goal for this summer is to transition my curriculum to include at least 2 projects or experiments per chapter (chapters 1-12 in both Algebra 1 and 2). I know it's not a complete transition to teaching from problem-based method but I think it's a good start. That's 24 quality problems/experiments/projects I need over the next 2 months. Ready? Go!
Exponential Decay - PrBl Style
I really like the concept of NCTM's "Too Hot to Handle, Too Cold to Enjoy." However, I think I would take the video and run with it. The student worksheet is okay but leads the discussion a little too much. If we're trying to get at problem-solving skills and inquiry-based learning, then giving the kids a table completely undercuts the mission. In essence, you're saying solve the problem this way. After the initial investigation into water cooling, I think some hands-on extensions would be in order--an extension or "sequel" in Act 3 (Dan Meyer) terminology. Does the amount of water affect how quickly it cools? Does the type of container matter? As a class, decide on a question to investigate and set up the experiment. A Coleman camping stove and a couple of large pots would work. I'd rather do it in class and have students take measurements than simply video tape it at home: 1) Video editing isn't one of my strengths 2) student engagement with the experiment. Of course, you do risk students harming themselves or others with boiling water but these kids also take chemistry and handle sulfuric acid. Come on, I think we can do a hot water experiment.
If the class chose to measure how volume of water changes the cooling time, a discussion of transformations based on the amount of water might be appropriate. Can we create a way to predict how long it will take any amount of water to cool to room temperature (or any temperature we pick for that matter)?
I'm starting to post these thoughts to the MichEdMath.weebly.com website. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I'll have a good repository of material to work with and, hopefully, I won't be the only one contributing.
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I teach Math at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, CO.