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Problem Based Curriculum


Problem Based Curriculum

For teachers that are either using and/or interested in problem-based courses. We can discuss the efficacy, what curriculum is available, or anything else of interest.

Members: 13
Latest Activity: Dec 18, 2012

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Comment by Jim Wysocki on August 19, 2009 at 4:27am
I have been using a problem-based curriculum in my Calculus BC course, modeled on the one that Phillips Exeter Academy uses, for two years now. My students performance on the AP has not suffered in anyway, and I feel they are much better problem solvers at the end of the year. Next year I plan on using a similar curriculum with my mostly 9th grade Geometry Honors class. Is anyone else using something similar?
Comment by Alison Blank on August 19, 2009 at 5:46am
Hi Jim,
I'm trying to set up something similar in my Geometry class. My aim is to have students form their own conjectures and prove them for much of the course. Eventually, I hope to do this in such a way that they actually build their own textbook. I've decided to start them out proving area formulas, since these can be tackled satisfactory at a low level of rigor while still being satisfying. I'd love to exchange lists of intriguing conjectures and questions that would be appropriate in a Geometry class.
Comment by Jim Wysocki on August 19, 2009 at 6:30am
That was one route I thought about going - didn't know if our community was ready for that. Instead I'm using curriculum created by a teacher at Emma Willard school in Troy, NY that she adapted from the PEA curriculum.

Are you using a standard (or non-standard) text as well? If so, which one? I have been using Lang's Geometry for a number of years and will keep it this year as a backup while I switch over.
Comment by Alison Blank on August 19, 2009 at 6:37am
Emma Willard? No way, that's just a few miles from me.

My students have "Discovering Geometry" by Michael Serra, which I used a bit last year, and will probably use less this year.
Comment by Jim Wysocki on August 19, 2009 at 6:41am
Small world!

I'm familiar with the DG book - our school tried it out about 9 years ago and the two teachers that used it hated it so much they went back to an older book by Jurgensen, Brown, Jurgensen. I taught Geometry one year from that book, then went for the Lang book, modeling my Geometry classes as much after Exeter's style as I could. This coming year I'll be closer.
Comment by Alison Blank on August 19, 2009 at 6:51am
Yeah, in general I hate the "Discovering" math series, but I do like that its a Geometry text that, in general, avoids two-column proofs. Unfortunately, it also tends to avoid proofs in general sometimes. I'll take a look at the Lang book; it might make a better back up. In general though, I try not to use the text at all.

A problem I've been having with the PEA curriculum is that it is completely integrated, so it's a bit of a struggle to find the problems which are best for a course titled "Geometry" or "Algebra".
Comment by Jim Wysocki on August 19, 2009 at 7:04am
Don't expect a lot of info on how to prove in Lang. There are a lot of 'prove' questions and explanations required, but you have to provide the help in teaching them what prove means. I too am not a fan of the two-column format, although it is helpful for some.

I agree about the PEA material, which is why I started with my BC class. Most of their Math 4 text is Calculus, and I only needed to add a few problems and take out those that did not fit.

What I like about the Geometry curriculum that I'll be using this year is that the teacher at Emma Willard already went through the PEA materials (she actually taught at PEA for awhile) and culled the Geometry material into a single text. She gave them to me when I went to Exeter Math/Science/Tech Conf. in June. Except for changing the Geo Sketchpad problems to Geogebra I will not have to do a lot of adapting. It's one reason I decided to do it for this year rather than wait.
Comment by Alison Blank on August 19, 2009 at 7:42am
Is there any way I could check out the Emma Willard curriculum? I understand if the original author doesn't want it shared.
Comment by Jim Wysocki on August 19, 2009 at 7:50am
I don't think she would mind. She wasn't really the original author of it all since she started with the Exeter materials and collected them and modified some of them. She made them freely available at the Exeter conf.

Send an email to my school account (jim.wysocki AT, and I'll send it to you.


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