Robert Kaplinsky- Real World Problem Solving
Type of technology: Website
SAMR Model Rating: Modification
Grade level: All
Subject area: Math
It is early Tuesday morning. The blue birds are singing their same songs. The same student is blurting out in your classroom and you are using the same method to teach your math lesson. Why?
Maybe it’s due to the fact that we tend to be creatures of habit. We take the same way to work, order the same latte (green tea, soy milk, two pumps of sweetener, shaken and not stirred) and go to the same grocery stores (Let me get my Von’s card ready!).
Although there is a sense of comfort in following the same beaten pathway(aka the teacher’s guide) and knowing what is right around the corner (guided practice then assign problems 1-15), we must never become creatures of habit when it comes to teaching.
I am not suggesting that teachers throw out their guides and resources, but instead provide opportunities for students to explore concepts, be creative thinkers and solve real world math problems. After all, math is a lot more fun when it’s not just about completing worksheets.
The importance of real world math problems in the classroom
- The common core state standards have required that educators provide rigorous expectations regarding how students should express their level of mathematical understanding.
- Real world math problems provide students the opportunity to apply the skills taught in a variety of contexts instead of in isolation.
- Students need experience describing their reasoning, critiquing explanations of others and implementing strategies to solve problems.
- Real world math problems help to develop conceptual understanding.
How to Get Started
An easy way to get started is to visit ropertkaplinsky.com.
Robert Kaplinsky (a former classroom teacher and UCLA math instructor) has created a website that provides teachers with links to real world problem based lessons for grades K-12.
All of the lessons are linked to the common core state standards and deal with a variety of math topics; such as fractions, ratios, multiplication and probability. The lessons always begin with a situation that is contextualized with a video or pictures to pique students’ interest. The students are then given a challenge to solve. In addition, thought provoking questions are provided to help the teacher guide the problem solving process.
Each lesson has answers and an explanation of how the problem could be solved. As well as potential misunderstandings that the students may have.
Below are some sample real world math problems that kids can solve:
Last year I used this resource as an aid to teach fractions to my third grade students. The lesson I presented to the students was “How Far Apart are the Freeway Exits?” We had already begun to do some work with fractions on a number line, and I wanted to use this real world problem to formatively assess their understanding of this concept.
Using this lesson helped me see that my students had some misconceptions about distance. As they were drawing the freeway stops, many of them believed that once the car reached ½ mile they still had to drive 1 more mile to get to the next stop; instead of only ½ a mile. I wouldn’t have been able to correct this misconception if we had done a “regular” math lesson or problem.
It is for this reason, that I highly recommend that you visit the Robert Kaplinsky website. It is fantastic resource that every math teacher should use to help their students delve deeper into richer math content and understanding.