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August 26, 2012


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I teach "Application of Number" to adults and teenagers UKside and was very interesting to see in your standards link the bit about "...persevere in solving them." (my emphasis)

This is a big issue with our learners and not really reflected anywhere in our syllabus. How do you measure/encourage that? (And find the time!)


What a wonderful course....Application of Number!!! It sounds so intriguing and if I was closer I'd enroll.

To start off with, I think it's a subjective thing. And while you can describe it, it never going to be something that you can truly measure.

I guess I start off by talking with students about their ideas and getting scenarios they think demonstrate that quality. Sometimes they reference a sports thing where they thought they couldn't sink 5 free throws in a row, but they practiced and then they could. We sort of group-think our way through what that might look like in math.

As we go through the year, I keep up the teacher feedback chit-chat about how they are "this close" and pinch my fingers together....and how they are on the right track if they don't give up. As odd as this might sound, just that kind of direct encouragement really makes them trust me because they know they're going to figure it out soon or that I will bale them out. I usually do this when they are really just on the verge OR if I know they're at that tipping point of frustration and they know I'll give them a hint that will get them over the hump.

Lastly with my higher performing students, I do lots of think alouds and give me another way. Actually in my rubric, it specifically addresses problem solving strategies. Did they solve it one way and then try to get the same answer using a different strategy? That's particularly useful where my students are....they can use guess & check to figure out the answer, so this way I ask them to try using algebraic reasoning to find the same answer. By the end of the year, they can often find 2-4 different ways to solve the same problem.

While this isn't exactly persevering....it builds those same endurance muscles. And I can more objectively measure how many strategies they tried.

Does that help? What have you thought about doing to build these skills within your learners?

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a message. It's always great to hear from someone.

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