Reflection: Diverse Entry Points Problem Solving with Right Triangles and Trig - Section 3: Homework Review


We know that “word problems” are one of the most detested parts of math for students.  In thinking about this matter, I realized this year that many students hate word problems because they have a fixed mindset about solving them: they are either “good” or “bad” at them.   This year, instead of assigning these context problems for homework, I used them as a classwork activity.

One thing I decided to do this year was to be cautious in my approach.  I wanted to be sensitive to students’ feelings about themselves as word problem solvers, yet I wanted to maintain high expectations by offering the notion that with effective effort and appropriate problem solving strategies, students could get better at solving word problems.   One such strategy I gave to my students was Talk to the Text (TTTT).

A major challenge I face in my classroom is the notion that “fast” = “smart.”  I am always trying to dispel this notion, especially when some students tend to think “if I can’t solve this word problem immediately, then I’ll never be able to solve it.”  I needed my students to understand that any problem worth solving takes time, and that most people do not instantly (or magically) see a solution path.  I needed them to really believe this idea, not just hear me say it.  So, I created a structure where students would have sufficient time to work individually at first so they could actually see that everyone needs time to work through these kinds of problems; I then gave them time to discuss with their group so they could share confusions, offer ideas, get feedback, and think together.   

  Word Problems and Fixed Mindsets: Making Room for Individual and Group TTTT Processing
  Diverse Entry Points: Word Problems and Fixed Mindsets: Making Room for Individual and Group TTTT Processing
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Problem Solving with Right Triangles and Trig

Unit 12: Triangle Similarity and Trigonometric Ratios
Lesson 7 of 11

Objective: Students will be able to communicate their reasoning clearly and precisely by presenting their work to the class.

Big Idea: By playing Trig Tool Tag, students increase participation and confidence in their trigonometry problem solving skills.

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