The Math Forum: 2000 Summer Institute - sum2000

July 25 - August 11, 2000 - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

2000 Summer Institute || Agenda || List of Participants

Day 8 Summary

Shelly pointed out the geometry-institutes discussion group and invited the participants to join in. We also addressed the many other discussion groups available for the public to join.

Jody Underwood presented the ESCOT Problem of the Week. Sometimes problems can be "messy" and might lend themselves to visualization, software, manipulatives, or simulations. For the discussion, we revisited Wilda's Swamp Water. This problem can be hard for students to visualize. The ESCOT PoW (Education Software Components for Tomorrow) was developed for the middle school level to promote the use of technology in problem-solving.

To run the ESCOT PoW's (epows) during the 1999-2000 school year, teachers had to use the Escot Runner. This was difficult on slower machines. During the 2000-2001 school year the Escot problems will run on regular browsers.

Discussion: What strengths and weaknesses to you notice in "For Pirates and Diamonds?" One participant noted that the software does not keep a log. Although the counter keeps track of the number of steps, a student might lose track of the result of each step. Others added that this may or may not be a weakness depending on the goals of the teacher and the needs of the students. For example, if the students are having trouble with the concept, a log would be helpful, but if the teacher wants students to explain the problem they should work without a log.

Activity: Look at Part I for all of the ESCOT problems. Select one problem to follow. Think about these questions:
  • What are some strengths and weaknesses of the EPoWs?
  • What other simulations/visualizations do you wish would be available?
  • What math concepts should be addressed in these epows?
  • How would you use it in class?
  • Would you want to customize the activity?
Discussion about the activity:
Jody: There are some ideas that are in the works for the coming school year.
  • What concepts do we need to fill in?
  • What concepts lend themselves to these tools?
  • Would you want to customize the activities? You could change the problems to meet your class needs, but you would not be able to submit them.
Participants explored the EPoWs and gave pointed feedback in a number of different areas including:
  • specific features of the activities that they liked and didn't like
  • math areas that ESCOT might address next year
  • details about classroom implementation, for example how much do you do for the students in the simulations
For more details, see the notes on the participants' comments.

Project Status:
Shelly brought the focus of the group back to individual projects.

What more would it take to make you ready to launch into your project?
  • For those whose goal is a Web page, I suggest taking a blank piece of paper and making sketches of what you want people to see. You might start by looking at existing Web pages and lessons to get a visual image of what you want your project to look like.
  • For those who want to develop Web pages for use with their courses, you might want to look at the WebCT course tool available at the WebCT site. Perhaps we can provide an orientation for the WebCT tool next week.
  • As far as cataloging PoWs, I suggest Danielle work with Shirley on the tag words for the Algebra PoWs and John, Matt, and Jo work on tagging the GeoPoWs from last year.
Assignments for today:
  1. Contribute to a geometry-institute discussion
  2. Work on projects

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