Strategies for Doing the IMATTT Problems of the Week

Helping students to improve their problem solving ability is one of the major goals of mathematics education. The IMATTT Problem of the Week approach is intended to help facilitate that ability.

Preliminaries

• Students should be organized for small groups activity. Each group chooses a "captain" who will be responsible for sharing his groups decisions.
• Computer and projection device setups are ready to go. (See Details below.)
• Room arranged appropriately for group activity.
• Since you want to facilitate "conversation" try calling on students rather than responding to hand raises. This will give you better leverage in leading the group discussion and minimize the calling out of answers. When you do call on a student with his or her hand raised try to get another student to respond. Remember your goal is to encourage good mathematical conversation between you and the students and the students with each other.
• Go over the rules (see below) with them. Make sure they understand each of them.
Setting the stage
• Pose the problem to the students in an interesting manner. (See example.)
• Hand out recording sheets.
Note: Before you let the students start working on the problem, make sure everyone understands by asking a student (or two) to restate the problem in his or her own words. Look around to make sure everyone understands. If not, let a student explain it to the student or students who still donít understand.
• Ask the class if there are any final clarification questions. If not, you can ask them to begin.
Doing the activity

The students should discuss the problem in their groups. You should listen in on their conversations and help them in appropriate ways. If you are using a time limit, remind them how much time left they have. Reinforce that their responses must be written clearly on the activity sheet. Though only one person may be writing, the result represents the groupís consensus on the solution. Once the time for the activity is over, the students should not be doing any more writing.

Debriefing

Have each captain share his or her groupís results by standing up and reading what they wrote. Ask the other groups what they think the score (0 to 3) for their response should be. (See assessment rubric below.)

Assessment Rubric

Use a scoring rubric to assign the group score for the problem.

 Pts 3 Answer is correct and explained clearly on the activity sheet. 2 Answer is correct, but not well explained in written for. 1 Answer is incorrect, but there is strong evidence of understanding in the written explanation. 0 Incorrect Answer. Little or no effort made & nothing terribly coherent.

Keep track of how your students did on the "problem of the week." Make a chart that lists the groups and their score.

 Prob #1 10/14/99 Prob #2 10/21/99 Prob. #3 10/28/99 Group #1 Student 1 (c) Student 2 Student 3 3 2 Group #2 Student 1 (c) Student 2 Student 3 3 2 Group #2 Student 1 (c) Student 2 Student 3 2 2

Extensions

Following the completion of the Problem of the Week activity, students can do other related activities that build on the original problem. For example, see

Projection device specifics

Problems of the week are designed to be done in a one computer classroom with an overhead projection device. Here are some specifics to consider:

1. Steps in setting up the projection device and Powerbook

• While both the projector and Powerbook are off, connect the large cable between them.
• Turn on the projection device on/off switch.
• Turn on (boot) your computer.
• Press the button to turn on the projectorís light.
• Make sure your Powerbook is set to simulscan video mode so that you can see the image both on the screen and on your Powerbook.
(Other suggested notes: please send to icharisc@stevens-tech.edu)