At the Wisconsin Math Council conference I heard a great problem from Dave Ebert's presentation that sets the tone for all my problems; it was simply a video of a cheetah running down an antelope and the following question:

*A cheetah and a gazelle are on the African plain, does the cheetah catch the gazelle?*

This question requires the student to do all the things we want from them. We all realize a cheetah runs faster than antelope during a burst but for a short duration, it requires a piece-wise function in my opinion. Otherwise all gazelle would be caught!

But students are going need to be taught that the above problem is math versus doing 1-25 odds on page 666 (and parents too). And that will be the really hard part.

So I am working on a list of milestones with deliverables for when I first assign problems like the cheetah problem this coming year. Otherwise someone, a mini-Scott, will simply answer "sometimes" to the whether the cheetah catches the gazelle. (My penetence for being a smart-a** in HS is teaching them all now.) What we want is just too different not to guide the students at first. I am initially thinking it is a 4 week assignment, where I will guide students through stages of the projects.

This is not set in
stone and will be evolving on a Google doc, but right now I
have the following milestones:

1) In a reflection explain what the answer to the problem will look like.

2) Define an “entry point” on the problem (by e-mail?, combine with #1?)

3) Define unknowns and things to research

4) Gather knowns from research (be sure to cite and check)

5) Create solution

6) Test solution

7) Revise

8) Prepare final
document

Also a sampling of
problems:

*A bridge is being built across the Wisconsin River, what gap should be left between sections.*

*You are following a car on the interstate, you pull off to use the restroom at a wayside. How long will it take you to catch up again?*

*Determine whether global warming is occurring in Juda?*

*Determine the amount of money saved by the solar array at the school for July 2013.*

Again I see these problems working in tandem with on-line practice, using every minute of every period for concepts/practice versus students "starting homework" and as integral part of a class that uses PBL to deliver the required curriculum.

I know this is not easy, I know students will "fight change," people always do. But I also know that solving problems is the skill the separates people in the world - and at the least my students will have practiced that skill.