Are My Students Engaged in Mathematical Modeling?

The process of taking a real-world situation and modeling it mathematically is a new concept for many elementary educators. Rachel Levy, who directs the NSF’s Immersion project, says teachers can ask themselves the following questions to ensure they’re on the right track when doing a classroom modeling activity.

• Did the students start with a big, messy, real-world problem?

• Did the students ask questions and then make assumptions to define the problem?

• Are they choosing mathematical tools to solve the problem?

• Are they using the mathematical tools to solve the problem?

• Are the students communicating with someone who cares about the solution?

• Have they explained if/when their answer makes sense?

• Have they tested their model/solution and revised if necessary?

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