This guest post was written by Kristin Owens, Assistant Director of STEM area. Why is math class not the setting for most made-for-TV movies? Frankly, it is often lacking many of the elements we find most entertaining: suspense, drama, edge-of-your-seat action. TV audiences are not particularly engaged by lectures, note-taking, and example problems. And neither are students. An approach called productive struggle could change that! What is productive struggle? Imagine a group of students hunched around a worksheet containing a set of block figures. Each figure has the same shape, but the number of blocks in each increases consistently from the first figure to the last. The students must formulate an equation to calculate the number of blocks in each figure. And that is the extent of their instructions. While you may not be on the edge of your seat, the opening scene has set the stage for an exercise in productive struggle. Watch what happens next! The process of productive struggle Now that the teacher has assigned the worksheet, this is how the process of productive struggle [...]
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