Friday, January 9, 2009

Stamford Primary School

This was a workshop on mathematical problem solving. We spent most of the time on undertanding the importance of number sense, looking for patterns, articulation of thought and visualization. We also explores two ways to improve understanding of word problems - metacognitive reading and problem posing. Finally, we explore the what-if strategy as a post-solving strategy. In one of the problems, teachers are asked to look for relationship between and among a set of numbers generated in a mind-reading game. The idea is to tell kids that if they think of two digits (say, 5 and 2) and tell you only the first one, then you can rread their mind to get the secon digit and even able to use the digits to (a) form a number 52, (b) form another number 7, from 5 + 2 and finally (c) find the difference between 52 and 7 and be able to write that down on a piece of paper. All these without them having to tell you the second digit. So when the kid tells you 5, you can write 45 down. When the kid tells you 8, you write 72 and when the kid says 9, you write 81. What do you write on the piece of paper if the kid says 3. 27 is correct. How does it work. That was the problem the teachers solved. They came up with two strategies (1) multiply the number the kid says by 9 and (2) subtract 1 from the number the kid says and then making sure the sum of the digits in the answer is 9. Do you know why the trick works? Using this problem, teachers can see that problem solving involves the ability to see a pattern and generalize the pattern. Also, it involves putting our ideas into words as we try to describe our observations of how the three numbers are related.
This workshop was attended by n teachers.

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