_______________________________________________________________________________ Subject: Re: Real World Problems From: email@example.com (Eileen Abrahamson) at internet Date: 6/14/95 2:49 PM
>>I don't see why teachers must create their own problems. The idea of >>on-line depository of interesting math word problems sounds like an >>excellent idea. I wonder if there is anything out there now. If not, >>this may be an interesting grant idea for someone. > >The State Department of Ed. in Minnesota has created a CD ROM Midi-Bank of >problems that can be used for assessment. It is probably a good beginning. > >Eileen
EDC (where I work) developed a CD-ROM called MathFinder. It contains problems (and sometimes whole curricula, I think) as a database. Each problem set is tagged for grade level, content, and addressing various NCTM standards. You can search on any combination of criteria, look at the results of your search, and print any of the problem sets.
Problems: 1. Requires CD-ROM technology, which not many schools have. 2. Printing is *very* slow. The problem sets are scanned images rather than text files, so the display (you can choose the quality of the display, lower=faster) and printing suffer.
MathFinder is available for both Mac and Windows. It is published by the Learning Team. Their phone number is (914)273-2226.
As for on-line resources, I think I remember someplace where there were lesson plans and such. Perhaps one of the FreeNets?
In any case, neither of these address the original issue of "real world problems." (I am about to say something controversial.) I think that the whole push towards applications and real-world (they are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same) is a bit dangerous. There's nothing wrong with learning applications, but are problems about physics really any more "real world" than problems about prime numbers?
For a problem to be "real world," it would have to be real in *your students'* world, which would make it impossible to share. Steve Means posted a wonderful example of how he incorporates things that are real to his students into his classroom. But these are not "problems." They are long, involved projects that last at least a year, and they would not translate to my class. (Though the *idea* of the projects would.)
My feeling is that most students' daily lives are not rich with opportunities for deep mathematical study. I, personally, would have a lot of trouble with Steve's assignment. My hobbies change every couple of years (so finding something I have loved and will continue to love is hard enough), and they don't always run towards the mathematical. (e.g. Reading fiction: Would I average the pages I read? The number of words on a page? In any case the mathematics is not that interesting.)
The "real world" problems in text books too often turn into data collection and body parts math. Neither of these is very deep or intellectually stimulating. I'm all in favor of exchanging "interesting problems," but I have trouble with "real world problems."
-michelle -- Michelle Manes Education Development Center, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org