My students do not have much experience with non-routine problems. On occasion they’ve completed complex tasks, but certainly not enough, or a variety, for students to build self-efficacy. I’m trying to change that by living a SMART goal I created for myself. Last Thursday, day 8, I presented a formative lesson designed by the Mathematical Assessment Project.
The problem began: Emily doesn’t trust banks with her money. She has stored $24,000 in one dollar bills under her mattress. The rest of the problem can be seen below. This student’s attempt was typical.
After they worked on the task independently for fifteen minutes, I collected their work. I found myself providing the same feedback over and over. (My handwriting is atrocious. I know. )
As I reviewed their work, I came upon this response:
One or two students thought to estimate the size of a mattress, but their dimensions weren’t reasonable. For them my feedback was, “How tall are you? What do you think the dimensions of your bed are?”
For estimating a stack of one dollar bills, nearly every student has this feedback: “How could a book help you? How could the pages in it help you estimate a stack of money?”
When I see the students tomorrow, they’ll take that feedback and work independently for about 10 minutes. They’ll then work in their groups to share their progress and come to a solution.
One thing I will add is criteria for success. Your work is: a reasonable estimate that is organized and clearly labeled.
I love this lesson. I get to see individual thinking. The feedback offers progress while not enabling. Plus, when they collaborate every student should be able to contribute to the solution.