#083 Michael Pershan: Example-Problem Pairs, problem-solving and moving schools

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On this episode of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast I spoke to Michael Pershan.

Michael is a teacher of mathematics in New York. Yes we are going global with this one… although budget restrictions meant I still recorded my end of the conversation in Blackburn. Michael is also one of my all-time favourite bloggers, creating the wonderful Rational Expressions, Math Mistakes and Teaching with Problems. I have been wanting to get Michael on the show for the last couple of years, and I am delighted to report that it was well worth the wait. This is a belter of an episode.

So, in a wide ranging challenging and fascinating conversation, Michael and I discussed the following things, and plenty more besides:

  • Why is changing schools so hard?
  • What role does the expectation of students play?
  • For the remainder of the first half of the conversation, after successfully overcoming our mutual language barrier, Michael describes his process for planning a lesson on subtraction
  • Then the big one – what do Michael’s Example-Problem Pairs look like (spoiler alert: they are different to mine!)
  • How soon into the process of introducing a concept would Michael include an incorrect example?
  • How does Michael provide whole class feedback?
  • Michael argues that many problem solving strategies have descriptive, but not prescriptive validity. What does he mean by this?

I think the second half of this conversation – when we really dive into worked examples – is one of my favourites of all time. I’ll dig into this (and much more) in my Takeaway at the end of the episode, but needless to say it has got me thinking really hard about my own approach.

On Twitter, Michael is: @mpershan
Michael’s website is: michaelpershan.com
He blogs at: Rational Expectations, Math Mistakes and Teaching with Problems

Michael Pershan’s Big 3
1. SERP – Algebra by Example
2. New Visions Math Curriculum – Instructional Routines
3. Art of Problem Solving – Alcumus 

My usual plugs:

Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you enjoy the show!
Craig Barton

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