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ERIC Number: EJ1078479
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Oct
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
A Historical Twist on Problems of the Week
King, Alessandra
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v21 n3 p176-179 Oct 2015
"Mathematics is one of the greatest cultural and intellectual achievements of humankind, and citizens should develop an appreciation and understanding of that achievement, including its aesthetic and even recreational aspects" (NCTM 2000, p. 4). In addition to NCTM, many professional organizations such as the National Research Council (NRC) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) have underlined the importance of the history of mathematics in school curricula, which is a position supported by research (Dutta 2015; Lingard 2000). Problem solving is central to mathematics because it provides "a context for learning and applying mathematical ideas" (NCTM 2000, p. 256). A series of Problems of the Week with a historical foundation connects all these strands. It provides students with a richer and deeper understanding of mathematical concepts; it shows them how and why such concepts were developed through years and sometimes centuries of hard work, partial success, sacrifice, trials, excitement, adversities, and delight; and it places mathematics in a clear and practical human context, demonstrating its astonishing usefulness. With its wealth of elegant concepts and proofs, colorful characters and interesting stories, such a foundation may increase students' interest. A positive attitude toward mathematics can also result. This article briefly describes the learning objectives for the yearlong Problem of the Week (POW) program, the structure of a POW contest, and how the author adapted this to her class's needs through what she called Problem of the Cycle (POC). The article goes on to discuss the defining aspect of the POC contest and provides a general evaluation of the program.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A