Yesterday I presented a problem-solving task to my students, hoping that they would jump in with excitement and tackle the problem with some struggle but with success. I used a task from the Shell Centre for Mathematical Education called Sharing Gasoline Costs. Students have to use proportional reasoning to calculate the part of the total cost of gasoline for each student in a carpool. Sounds straightforward enough.
Cue *crickets chirping* and *deer-in-the-headlights* stares across the classroom.
Teacher is still learning that worthy tasks take t...i...m...e. Slow down. Let the ideas simmer. Afterall, I have a Master's Degree and several (ahem...) years of math experience on them, and it took me a little bit of thinking before I got the problem going on my own.
Today we're going to work on the problem in small groups with some guiding questions. The groups are going to pool their thinking and come up with one solution and explanation for their group.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed and feeling hopeful again today. Some days, I just want to throw my hands up in the air and grab some worksheets for some "drill and kill". It just seems easier somehow.
I think I can....I think they can....I think I can....I think they can.....