This week we did not have to submit a reflection on what we did in class, but to submit a reflection on a teacher story from our textbook. This story was very intriguing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is from the book, Teaching Mathematics through Problem Solving: Grade 6-12 by Harold L. Schoen on page 119.
It was about a teacher who incorporated problem solving in the classroom through real world examples. The question the teacher gave was about a car accident where the students worked for the accident-investigation unit of the local police. A car who came around a corner hit a parked car and the students have to solve whether the driver is at fault. They were given some information regarding the problem, but most of the information they had to find out themselves. They were able to search the web, look through driver handbooks, read old police files, and use their own knowledge to solve the problem. The students were placed in three different groups and each group came up with different strategies, but in the end all reached the same result. Once they reached the answer, the students had to write up a report on what happened and then had to share it with the rest of the class. Sometimes the teacher even brings in police officers or other people who could relate to the given problem.
The reflection I gave for this story is:
I enjoy how this teacher found a way to relate problem solving to the real world. It increases student engagement and it helps the students understand that mathematics can relate to the real word. One thing that I found important in this story was that, “the process is as important as the answer”. The students had to work towards finding the answer by starting in the entry phase where they defined the problem and found information, whether it be through online searching or in the question itself, then they entered into the attack phase. We saw that each group usually comes up with different strategies to go about the question. I believe it is important to let the students explore different methods and strategies because maybe they will come up with a strategy that nobody else has. Once the students found a solution, they had to reflect on it and write a report about it. This gives the students the opportunity to go back and check their work and understand what they did. Finally, the activity ended in discussion. I believe discussion is important because it encourages the students to find connections between the different strategies used. Through the entry phase, attack phase, and review phase, these students develop critical thinking. I enjoyed how the teacher incorporated a real world problem into the math class and how he made sure the students went through the three phases.
When I start planning lessons, I will try to plan it a certain way so that my students have to go through each phase. I think these phases are important in problem solving because it helps the students understand the overall concept of the problem and it helps them connect the problem to other problems from the past.