Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Looking Beyond the Obvious to Deepen Understanding

Earlier today, I posted about kids teaching kids with the Mathtrain.TV site.  The obvious use for this site is to have students use the video tutorials as models for solving similar problems.  Unfortunately if this is the only way these videos are used, it's likely that only surface, rote learning is taking place.  The same is true about most of the math resources that are readily available.  It's up to us as math educators to look beyond the obvious, intended uses for these resources in order to ensure that deep, long lasting learning is taking place.  So that go me thinking about how the Mathtrain.TV videos could be used more effectively with students.

Below are some ideas for using these videos in less obvious ways that can actually deepen student understanding of the math concepts/skills:
• have students describe what they like most about the video and what they learned from watching the video...Did  watching the video change how they will work similar problems in the future?  If so, how?
• have students describe how the video explanation could be improved...Would visuals be helpful?  Should number sense be involved in solving the problem?
• have students explain how to estimate the answer to the problem...Would it have made more sense to estimate rather than solve for an exact answer?  Why or why not?  How would estimating the answer be helpful?
• have students explain how the problem could be solved using a different method
• have students draw visuals that illustrate the problem being solved in the video
•  have students debate whether or not this is the most efficient way (fastest and easiest) to solve the problem..then have them write a letter to the student who made the video explaining why this is or is not the most efficient method for solving the problem
• have students view two videos that use different methods for solving the same type of problem, then have them compare and contrast the videos including which method they would choose (if either) and which method is most efficient for solving similar problem