E-mail Correspondence - October 2 Letter
Supporting Teachers Using ESCOT PoWs

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ESCOT PoWs || Teacher Support
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From: suzanne@mathforum.org
Subject: October 2 is almost here

Hi,

I am writing this note as I think back to when I used the ESCOT problems with students last year. Since my rambling is going to be a longer than normal, I'm putting topic headers on each chunk. Feel free to skip around to whatever seems useful for you

Alignment to Standards
Since I was teaching in California last year, alignment to the Standards was really important. I thought you might find these interesting:
Grade 7
Algebra and Functions:
1.5 represent quantitative relationships graphically and interpret the meaning of a specific part of a graph in terms of the situation represented by the graph
Mathematical Reasoning:
1.1 analyze problems by identifying relationships, discriminating relevant from irrelevant information, identifying missing information, sequencing and prioritizing information, and observing patterns
1.2 formulate and justify mathematical conjectures based upon a general description of the mathematical question or problem posed
2.4 make and test conjectures using both inductive and deductive reasoning
2.5 use a variety of methods such as words, numbers, symbols, charts, graphs, tables, diagrams and models to explain mathematical reasoning
2.6 express the solution clearly and logically using appropriate mathematical notation and terms and clear language, and support solutions with evidence, in both verbal and symbolic work
Since the Math Forum is serving a national/international audience the Teacher Support page that is available is aligned to the NCTM Standards. You can find that page here:
http://mathforum.org/escot/elephants.html
Knowing the Standards alignment helped me last year because it was what I used to convince administrators that using the ESCOT PoW was justifiable.
Extra Credit or Homework or Part of Your Curriculum....or ?
There are many possibilities for using these problems and I would strongly suggest that if this is the first time you are planning to use this type of problem (a Problem of the Week format) or if you are relatively new to using technology.....go easy on yourself. Take it a little at a time.

Extra Credit: One approach to using ESCOT PoWs is to think of it as something extra. Perhaps sign-up for the lab, prepare the students with expectations but think of the assignment as extra.

Homework: If your students have Internet access at home, consider assigning the ESCOT PoW as homework or to do at home but as extra credit.

Math Club: Use the ESCOT PoWs an an enrichment activity for an before/after school mathematics activity. It could be a GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) project or a club.

Align to your Curriculum: This is a little more difficult to do if you are following a strict agenda. If you have a little leeway I think you will find that the problems that we have chosen this year are varied and will be great tools for your students to gain in their mathematical thinking.

Computers in Classroom: If you have a one or more computers in your classroom, this would be a great way to try out ESCOT PoWs.
Set-up Issues
I won't kid you here. Setting up this first time is NOT trivial. The programmers have been working to make this process easier for you but it is still going to take some time.

Since our first problem will debut next Monday and will run for a week, time may be too short for you to get a lab of computers ready in time. Maybe this first time you can just use the problem in an abbreviated way due to time constraints but start now for plans to expand to a lab environment.

To read about the Set-up required, go here:
http://www.escot.org/applets/setup/instructions.html
After reading the directions if you have questions, please write and I'll help however I can. (I am a Mac person but I can direct your questions to a PC person!)
Logistics Suggestions
I must admit that I wasn't clear on how students type in their submissiona until I actually tried it myself, so it might be a good idea (if you have time) to try this before using it with anything more than a very small group of students. The entire process takes longer than most teachers have for 1 period.

Here's how I would suggest handling it:
  1. Day 1 -- setup (either you do ahead of time or be prepared to have students need time to help you through this -- that all depends on your computer situation)
  2. Day 2 -- just interact with the problem but don't expect the students to go through the submission process. Perhaps have them take some notes?
  3. Day 3 -- start immediately to submit because what happens is that after the students have answered some questions and filled in some information they will reach a page that has the problem on it again BUT this time it includes the field where they type in their answer.
Teacher Support Page
The page that I referred you to for Standards alignment:
http://mathforum.org/escot/elephants.html
has several ideas that you might find useful. This is an area that we are hoping to develop as teachers use the PoWs, think of other ideas and share them. If you have any ideas to expand this page I would love to hear them.
Sincerely,
Suzanne

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