Creating Patient Problem Solvers

Dan Meyer, a part-time Googler, a provocative blogger  and a full-time high-school math teacher, has made math engaging for his students leading them to talk about situations, hypothesize and identify solutions. As he explained at TedxNYED in March 2010, his approach is rewarding to himself and his students as well as other teachers and students around the world.

What Dan does is bring mathematical problems to life through pictures and videos creating discussion in his classroom amongst his students. The dialogue raises questions, enables opinions and can create debate. What I love about Dan’s approach is that there isn’t a formula – his students use reason and logic to evaluate the situation. His approach is so creative it catches the attention of every student as it is fun and engaging.

How can parents take Dan’s approach to math and bring it to life at home?

Here are a few ideas:

Adding and Subtracting: Baking/ Cooking – counting how many cups we need to add or how many we have remaining to add? or open a play store where children can use pennies to buy or sell toys or art objects

Statistics: Any sport with goals for or against, player ranking – help your children work out the performance statistics of their favourite players. Help them understand what the statistics mean. I vividly remember Tom Hanks’ character in Big helping a young boy work through a math problem using basketball as an analogy. Help your children relate to what they are learning by making it relevant to their passions.

Probability: Use reality shows to discuss – what is the probability that one player will be voted out over another?

Please share your experiences. What have you tried and found that engages your children with math?

Working together creates dialogue, encourages their creative thinking and most importantly, helps them understanding what they are learning versus memorizing formulaic approaches to problems. Plus their answers may surprise you – providing you with a smile and greater insight into your child’s way of thinking.


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Filed under Creativity, Impromptu Activities

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