EDET 677 Week 3

Essential Question: To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves?

“You can’t think about thinking without thinking about thinking about something…” (Martinez, et.al, loc., 1066) “That is why tinkering is very helpful to learn about thinking, it gives deep clues to a patient observer about thinking. After reading this chapter, and the article called “Constructive Struggling,” it got me thinking about how much I gave my students opportunities to “struggle” and figure things out on their own. I had two boys in first grade math, and when they came across a word problem, they’d get frustrated by all of the reading, and then say they need help. “When we introduce complexity in the problems we ask students to solve and challenge them beyond what they think they can do, we give them the opportunity to struggle a bit, an opportunity that many students never experience in mathematics,”(Seeley, 2009).

I would tell them to read the word problem carefully, circle the important information, and underline what it’s asking you to do. They would determine what kind of math problem it is, and choose a strategy to solve it. After those struggling situations, sometimes we got that “aha” moment (their face expression were priceless). I agree with Seeley, that constructive struggling may go hand in hand with motivating them. Of course I did this after knowing their strengths, and what they are capable of doing. I never pushed my students too far, to where they totally gave up.

“When you allow children to make personally meaningful projects, they develop the habits of mind required to solve their own problems.” TMI (Think, Make, Improve) is a great acronym, and strategy for giving students opportunities to struggle and do things themselves (Martinez, et.al, loc., 1243). Reflection is also important. After every design or project, giving students that time to analyze, to make better, or revise, it makes learning more natural and beneficial for the students (Martinez, et.al, loc., 1304).



Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (n.d.). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Retrieved May 24, 2016.


Seeley, C. (n.d.). Constructive Struggling [Faster Isn’t Smarter]. Math Solutions. Retrieved 2009, from http://www.mathsolutions.com/documents/9781935099031_message17.pdf




3 thoughts on “EDET 677 Week 3

  1. Nice post, Genevieve!

    I appreciate your story of giving your first grade students word problems that caused them to struggle. You offered them some strategies for working toward the “aha” moment without telling them how to do the problem. Excellent point, too, about knowing just how far you can push students. There is definitely a point when too high of a level of difficulty for a particular student on a particular day can have diminishing returns. It looks like you were able to pull some ideas out of this week’s readings that you’ll be able to apply with your students.


  2. I really liked your response. I agree that having students struggle with word problems will get them to apply their knowledge of the content. Once they learn the content they can apply it to word problems, this is where I have my students “struggle” as well. I liked that you have the students reflect on the problems after they completed it. I plan to work on projects next year for students to solve problems on their own. I liked the quote that you said on having projects.


  3. I would like to say that as students get older and enter high school, their success in solving story problems in math class is minimal, but I would be lying. I still get students that struggle. Severely. I try to do what you do, tell students to find key words and important information. But it astonishes me that students are not satisfied by “struggling”, then having success in solving problems. They have become accustomed to having major scaffolding, and basically being spoon fed strategies to solve problems. It’s something I need to work with my classes next year. I am teaching Algebra “support” classes and I need to find strategies that will help my students to be successful in Algebra. I’m hoping to use this strategy with them, but I need to be very careful. It won’t take much to have them shut down because of difficulty. It will be a delicate balance.


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