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Topic: New Format for Three PoWs
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Annie Fetter

Posts: 2,090
Registered: 12/3/04
New Format for Three PoWs
Posted: Jan 24, 2002 7:12 PM
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Three of the Math Forum's Problems of the Week (PoWs) are going to
begin piloting a new "format" starting on January 21. This will start
in the Geometry, Algebra, and Middle School Problems.

As you know, we've had to stop accepting submissions partly because of
a reduction in staff but mostly because mentoring is a very
time-consuming endeavor. While the problems themselves are useful,
the submission process didn't offer enough additional value when there
is no mentoring. We've been thinking hard about how we might enhance
this process so that there is self-directed feedback on submissions.

Starting January 21 in those three services, instead of simply
submitting a solution and waiting for a mentor to reply, students will
be able to view hints, error checking strategies, or solutions, after
submitting their answers. We then ask them to revise their submissions
accordingly. Additionally, students who are interested will have an
opportunity to reflect on how their solution compares to that of other
students. This will be a more involved process for the students and
will require more time at the computer, but our hope is that more
immediate learning can take place without human intervention and
perhaps students will learn more about problem-solving. This feedback
and reflection may increase the value for students, even if they don't
receive a response from a mentor.

Here's a brief overview of what it will entail. After submitting a
solution, instead of the traditional "Thanks for your submission"
page, students will have five choices that will look something like

1. I'm not sure how to solve this problem. Could I get
a hint?
2. I think I've solved the problem. Am I on track?
3. I'm sure I'm right and that my method is sound. Can I see
some other solutions so that I can compare them to my own?
4. I've checked my solution and it is correct. Can I see a
more challenging problem?
5. I'm done for now.

Upon viewing the information for options 1, 2, 3, or 4, the students
will have the opportunity to revise their answers. Additionally,
students who have selected option 3 will be asked to write a bit about
how the solutions provided compare to their own - this isn't an
opportunity that students often have, and we're hopeful that some of
them will take advantage of it. Students will not be required to
complete their work in one sitting, as they can return to the process
at their convenience (up until the revision deadline).

Students will receive email from us as before, including a URL to
return to this process.

We'll be opening all of our problems to everyone, as before, but many
students may not receive direct mentoring. We're experimenting with
some possible mentoring options, including a Mentor Exchange Program,
where teachers (or local recruits) would mentor a number of
submissions based on how many submissions their kids generate, and
working with students from Drexel University's Honors program. We'll
continue to make announcements about these programs as we figure out
how to make them work!

Problems will continue to run on two week cycles the rest of this
academic year - we don't think we're ready to go back to a weekly
schedule just yet.

The January 21 problems are currently available for preview. While
this will certainly be a "pilot" program, we believe that it will
offer significant benefit to your students.

We recommend that you go through the submission process yourself when
the problems begin accepting submissions on Monday so that you can get
a feel for how it works. If you have any questions or comments,
please drop me a line - your feedback is very important to us and will
help us to refine and adapt the new format so that it better meets the
needs of you and your students.

Thanks for your continued support.


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