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Monday, October 5, 2009

Problem of the Week Schedule

While I am the assigned math teacher to the 7th and 8th grades here at the School, I also believe that all of us are, in a sense, life coaches for our students. I want to be a positive force in helping our students understand their responsibilities. Part of their responsibility is completing their homework. I recognize the difficulties this creates for many of our students (heck, I can't always keep up with my son's 3rd grade homework load), so I provide different organizational scaffolds for my students to use.

This month of October, I will be looking particularly closely at how my students work on their Problems of the Week. The operative word in that title is "week". An all-important problem solving technique is to break out the times we actual ponder and work on a problem. For example, if we find ourselves stuck, putting a particular problem aside and sort of "forgetting" it for a while can be very refreshing. When we take up the problem again, we may find our mind has been mulling over it more than we realized. It could also be that we are simply more energized the next time around.

If we find a solution to a problem easily, time still plays an important role. Two continuing activities in problem solving is determining whether your solution is the ONLY one possible and thinking about alternative ways to solve and justify the problem. These are aspects of the POW activity I assign that I particularly look for in the essays.

Long ago I broke down the POW process into 7 rough sections to match the days of the week. I am currently reconsidering this calendar to break it down to four days, bunching some of the activities together and trying to prevent the essay writing from falling on Sunday pm.

Now that my students post their essays to their blogs, I have an unique perspective into WHEN they are writing their essays. And yes, to little surprise, many of my students are waiting until Sunday pm to post (I suspect they post upon finishing the writing, but I cannot be 100% sure of this).

I am posting the 7 day calendar as a reminder to all students and families of the expectations. This month I will be asking adults to sign off on the sheet. I am not policing anyone at all by this (I'm not a big fan of reading logs with parent signatures in elementary), but rather, as a reminder to help support my students (your child) in the POW organization.

As always, feel free to let me know what is going on behind the scenes with POW's and homework in general.

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