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  • Kris Giere

    I teach under-prepared students. And the one complaint I hear more than anything else is "When am I ever going to use this stuff?" Making math real in this way is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

    • Andrew Shauver

      Well, and that is an odd paradox, too, because they will ask so adamantly for those real problems, but the typical textbook model for applied problems tends to be terribly repulsive to them.

      That is why I am pretty loose with my definition of "real world" because the type of problem that I describe in my post is real in the sense that it exists in front of you, but it doesn't really apply to any actual occupational practice.

  • Liz Dwyer

    Love this part: "being able to mathematically model a problem that exists in your hands with math that has always existed in a book is not something that comes naturally to most people. In addition to the content, students need to practice modeling the mathematics. They need to learn what the book math looks like when it is in their hands."


    This is also where I feel like bringing a service learning model into the math classroom could have some clear benefits.

    • Andrew Shauver

      I'm glad that there is support out the for this idea. It can be nerve-racking for teachers because the students assume a greater control of the flow of class, but study after study of high-performing schools suggests that students assuming greater control is a move in the right direction.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Interesting question. I never thought of math problem-solving as a way to solve real problems, other than ones in engineering and design. I wonder how math can be used in other areas, like issues with hunger? Fortunately, infographics help show how numbers play an important role in so many areas. Interesting to see your classroom approach.

    • Andrew Shauver

      Math is a way of thinking. It is away of breaking down a problem and looking at constraints and variables, modeling the problem in as accurate a way as possible based and using what we know about the model to impact our decision-making as we develop a solution to the problem.

      You could argue that you are using a mathematical problem-solving model anytime you and your significant other solve a new problem by saying, "You remember when we were dealing with that thing a while back? This is kind of like that. What did we do then? It'll probably work now."