Sam Shah is always worth reading. (I think I’ve said that before. That’s OK. It’s still true.) Back on February 12 he published a post called “Explore Mathematics” — a good title, since isn’t that what we all want our students to do? In this post he summarizes and expands an idea from the estimable Fawn Nguyen (who is also worth reading), an idea for an exploration activity “that gave kids the freedom to explore mathematics that interested them.” It was designed to be low-pressure and open-ended:
I don’t want it to seem like added work just for the sake of extra work! That’s the fine line I am trying to navigate — sort of “forcing” kids to carve out some time here and there in their busy schedules to get exposed to the cool things out there. I have to figure out how I can create this feeling in the kids.
I wonder how this turned out. Shah teaches in a school like Weston, with a lot of academic pressure and a fast-paced curriculum that has to be followed (more and more the case everywhere), so how much room is there for this kind of activity? Did kids buy into it, or did too many of them just do things for a grade and admit that math doesn’t interest them? I will let you know once I find out how it went.