The Math Forum: 2000 Summer Institute - sum2000

July 25 - August 11, 2000 - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

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2000 Summer Institute || Agenda || List of Participants
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Day 6 Summary



Judy Ann Brown led a session about mentoring for the PoW's. Yesterday's focus was on the "ground level" value of the PoW's: solving problems, submitting, getting feedback from a mentor, and resubmitting. There is also value in participating in the mentoring process. Teachers and students can use mentoring to learn more about the many ways problems can be approached and solved. Mentors can also help write new Problems of the Week, encouraging them to use mathematical thinking in different ways.

Participants worked on a Middle School Problem of the Week. They read and discussed Wilda's Swamp Water. The group discussed possible solutions and how they would write complete answers. They discussed ambiguities that arise in the question and the solutions.

Judy Ann introduced the participants to the office. Mentors go to the office to find expected solutions and get access to the problems they will respond to. "Expected solutions" are necessary when more than one person is mentoring a particular problem. When classes mentor they need to determine together what is expected in the solutions.

Participants mentored two submissions to Wilda's Swamp Water. They learned how to determine if an answer receives credit, includes a bonus answer, and should be included in the answer set. They wrote their comments and shared them with a partner for feedback about their clarity and directness.

Suzanne mentored three student submissions for the group to critique and approve. This gave participants a chance to see what their roles as group leaders will be if they want their classes to mentor.
Participants discussed:
  • use of positive/negative tone, friendly greeting
  • selecting solutions to include in the answer set
  • offering appropriate/helpful amounts of help
  • using judgement to encourage students to attempt the bonus
Reflection: How might you use the mentoring process in your classroom? Were there any questions/issues/concerns that came up with today's discussion?

Shelly opened the afternoon session with a sharing session about the experience of the Institute up to this point. The reactions that participants wrote at the end of the first week raised a few questions.
  1. Is the Summer Institute "intense" enough? Most participants were comfortable with level of intensity. One participant commented that she feels that we switch focus so often (daily) that she cannot get focused on her own project. Another participant feels that the intensity level is what you make of it. Perhaps on the first day the options for projects could be more clearly defined and articulated.
  2. Should the Institute have a full-day agenda? Adding a work session in the afternoon would allow participants to reflect and focus on their own projects. With the schedule as it is there is time for brief reflection after lunch, but then it is time to go home. For people coming from out of state, it may be better to have a longer day and shorten the Institute to one or two weeks. At this point in the Institute there is general consensus that afternoon sessions would be difficult to accommodate due to personal schedules.


Reflection for tomorrow: In addition to reflecting on the mentoring process from this morning, also give thought to formalizing individual projects.
  • creating Web pages
  • writing web-based lessons
  • finding "holes" in the Math Forum Web site
  • categorizing PoW's


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