Friday, July 28, 2017

Differentiation Part II

Continuing on my thinking from last time:  http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/07/open-ended-problems.html I saw notes on an interesting recent talk from @cheesemonkeysf

Agenda:
http://cheesemonkeysf.blogspot.com/2017/07/tmc17-morning-session-overview.html

I hope there is a video taken that I can watch at some point since this seems very relevant.

One practical takeaway I've gotten is to look at the Exeter Math Problem Sets Link as another potential resource. On my first glance, they're a bit too close to a standard curriculum to use extensively but there are some interesting questions among them that might work for the math club setting.

Secondly, I've been thinking about the notion of katamari vs. speed demons she references:

https://researchinpractice.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/lessons-from-bowen-and-darryl/

"a distinction between students who try to burn through the work (“speed demons”) and students who work slowly enough to receive the gifts each question has to offer (“katamari,” because they pick things up as they roll along) – and the students who are asked to present an idea to the class are only katamari! Fourthly, a group discussion is only ever about a problem that everybody has already had a chance to think about – and even then, never about a problem for which everybody has come to the same conclusion the same way. Fifthly, in terms of selecting which ideas to have students present to the class, they concentrate on ideas that are nonstandard, or particularly visual, or both (rather than standard and/or algebraic)."
That sounds a lot like gifted versus regular students or honors vs. gened or any other standard tracking dichotomy.  To me that still begs the question of how do you distinguish the kids for grouping and then why not just have an honors class? I'm also super interested in how one keeps tabs on kids working on completely separate threads.  But practically speaking there are some interesting ideas that might apply to next year's Math Club. With any luck I'll just have mostly or all 6th graders. But assuming the worst case and an even spread of kids across 2-3 different years of the curriculum the notion would be to do a common activity / set of problems with extensions for the more advanced kids. In my case, the idea would to still stay away from curriculum topics in this portion. But to then group the kids roughly by class they're in and have extensions they do that are of different difficulty levels.

You then have group discussions only around the common portions of the thinking. That sounds like a lot of work on a week by week basis and I still think there needs to be some check in with groups going off on tangents. But I may try to experiment with variants on this format.