Design approaches

Posted on July 14, 2017


Just looked at the latest upload  from MathIsPower4U (James Sousa).   I realized at the opening screen that yes, it starts like  Khan Academy and ALEKS.   “Here’s a math problem you might be assigned; here’s how to do it.” Kinda goes against the “let’s make math meaningful!”  but… later about that.

That said, it’s *very* superior to either of those.   ALEKS doesn’t have a video so it’s all text; both ALEKS and Khan Academy are all about manipulating the symbols with essentially zero, zip, nada reference to anything a student could actually want to think about.   This movie is talking about distance — and hooray!!!  he talks about “walking away” as distance increases, instead of just talking about the graph.

Oh, and the next video that comes up is “making graphs from stories.”   I remember seeing one like this at one of my other favorite math video collections (and yes, I’ll try to get a link to a “page” with a list… )    This is the kind of thinking that can make some of  my students shrink from it if, to them, it’s “a math problem you’re assigned” since … it’s not at all like anything they’ve ever done with graphs and graphs are hard already without trying to make sense of them! … but if we can get past the “what do I have to memorize to do this” swamp then good things happen…

… and… if the student’s position is that of “I need to know how to do math problems I’ll be assigned,” then… we’re aiming at their target.  That is, in fact, what is “meaningful” for an awful lot of ’em.


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