We challenge ourselves to create lessons that encourage experimentation, exploration, cooperation, communication, and out-of-the-box thinking. Our primary goal is: To enable every student to become a better creative problem solver. In this Digital Age, we believe a new approach to problem solving is required. Our approach, based on functions, uses spreadsheets as the primary tool, and a digital problem-solving methodology we call “Functional Thinking” based on the principles of Design Thinking.
You might consider this project for your students because:
• problem solving – a valuable set of skills for any age, but vital in this digital age, awash in data and technology tools for building and using models to analyze and solve problems.
• functions – are the building blocks of mathematical models, the most important concept in mathematics, and the key to digital age problem solving.
• spreadsheets –the ubiquitous tool used in business and STEM professions, providing a platform for learning, coding, and digital age problem solving..
• Functional Thinking – requires students to visualize, organize data, build models, iterate those models, and to think creatively and conceptually by asking “What if…”.
We challenged ourselves to create courses to be readiness programs at key transitions, to build problem solving and conceptual proficiency to prepare students for their future. These courses give students an opportunity to rethink and reimagine the math they previously learned to:
• Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
• Reason abstractly and quantitatively
• Model with mathematics
• Use appropriate tools strategically
We challenge you to be docents (guides and mentors) encouraging students to:
• Explore and experiment with these student-centered, problem-based-learning Labs.
• Collaborate with other students to learn to use spreadsheets, coding, and the Web to solve problems.
• Persist and be resourceful as they reason through problems.
• Spend a class period working through a Lab, followed by further exploration, experimentation, asking, always asking “What if…”.
As you get started, we suggest you assign Spreadsheets 101 as an introduction to spreadsheet and Functional Thinking skills. We are always here to help, and we look forward to your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions.
The What if Math Team