Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Math problem of the week: Investigations vs. Continental Math League

1. From grade 3 Investigations, a Reform Math program:

Three children have one book of 15 movie tickets to share.  Each movie costs one ticket.  How many movies can each child see?

2. From sample problems for grade 3 (3-1) Continental Mathematics League, a popular math competition league:

Ann has $1 in nickels, dime, and quarters, with at least one of each. What is the difference between the largest number of coins that she could have and the smallest number of coins that she could have?

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A simple (for 3rd grade!) but poorly defined problem: each child can see as many as 15 movies, as long as the other two agree not to see any.

versus:

A well-defined multistep problem involving multiple constraints and harder calculations.

Thank goodness our principal has, as of a meeting this morning, warmly welcomed our plan to start up an after-school Continental Math League team for interested 2nd and 3rd graders.  

We want these students, before they fall too far behind their international (and non-Reform Math) peers, to learn what they're missing at school, to have opportunities to distinguish themselves mathematically, and to see that math is fun, interesting, and much, much more than simple answers to boring, poorly-written questions.

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