The first thing that was really interesting was that a bunch of my students said, "Done!" I've got it!". They quickly found a solution that worked and were satisfied that the solved the "challenge".

Here is an example of student work giving me only one solution |

Examples of students being asked to go back to the drawing board. Now I was getting more than one solution. |

Another student kept trying. She would email me one solution then I would ask her if she could think of more and I got her thinking about looking for patterns. After a few back and forth tries, she emailed me a solution with all 14 possibilities worked out. I was so proud of her for persevering and for the excellent thinking that she showed.

Many of my other students are still working on it, and I am hopeful that they will come up with all the possible solutions.

The second thing that surpised me was that many of my students immediately asked me, "If I do this challenge, will I get any bonus marks?". You see, I showed them this challenge as an additional thinking task to try, it was not the focus of a lesson. I was shocked that my students were willing to do the challenge, but only if it counted for something. What have I (or we - the school system) done to students to make them think things are only worth doing if they are "worth" something. What about the love of learning? What about curiousity and intrigue? Are those not "worth" something? Where has the internal motivation to learn gone? It probably has something to do with the emphasis we put on grades and marks. My school is beginning go down the path of examining our assessment practices so that hopefully soon we can get rid of numerical grades. Perhaps this will make a difference. But, in the meantime, it is disheartening that many students have lost their internal drive to learn. Maybe I will just keep doing more of these challenges, and hopefully they will jump in and reignite their love of learning!

Hi Carrie!

ReplyDeleteI love reading about your students' experiences with "Pieces of Eight", as well as seeing some of their work. I especially like how you kept prompting them to explore the problem, even when they thought they were "finished". :)

Like you, I also wonder about how numerical grades impact a student's enjoyment of learning. I agree with continuing to present problem solving experiences as a means of engaging them in fun, challenging, creative mathematics -- whether or not it is tied directly to "a grade".

Maybe some other videos over at Collaborative Mathematics can help in that regard? For instance, "Challenge 03: Finger Counting" has been a hit with other students, and might be with yours, too!

Thanks again to you and your students for participating! :)

-Jason

I will definitely check out some more of your challenges. I was really pleased with the impact that this had on some students. If I do it more often, I think more students will "get on board" and do challenges for the fun of it!

DeleteThanks for leading me to such a great resource.

ReplyDeleteIt is too bad that students are so grade focused. I've started doing more formative assessment in my classes, and I think this helps remove some of the grade stigma. Students have realized that if they do the work well, they will get useful feedback, which can help them improve and be prepared for when there is a grade.

I agree. I am also doing more formative assessment. At the end of the day though, the students know they are going to get a percent grade. My school is starting to look at that way of marking and we are hoping to make some significant changes to this in the coming months.

ReplyDeletePieces of 8 sounds really cool, and I think you did awesomely in motivating your students to rethink their answers again and again - I love problems that go on like that; with different solutions or routes there. I hope you find loads more from the sites in collaboration post!

ReplyDeleteAll the best

Nik

#MTBoS