Jasper is a good example…

 

But we need to create our own lessons.

The Jasper Series is an excellent, although dated, example of anchored instruction.  The main construct of the Jasper series is termed anchored instruction; a variation of the constructivist idea of situated learning.

The Jasper series anchors student learning in realistic simulations that require mathematical reasoning and problems solving.  Heightening the requirement for reasoning, the Jasper situations call for generative problem solving; not only do students have to solve the problem; they must generate a plan to define then solve the problem.

As a mathematics instructor who tries to instruct children in a constructivist manner, I applaud the creators of the Jasper series for their innovation and commitment to authentic mathematics instruction.  I believe that with current technologies, the Jasper series could be made exceptional; use Google Earth to situate the learning and use ICT tools as tools to generate, formulate and solve problem situations.

Having just watched a series of TED talks as part of my own PLN practices, I am compelled to view Jasper through a tainted lens.  A lens tainted by talks of promoting wisdom (by Barry Schwartz) and celebrating genius (by Elizabeth Gilbert).

While I encourage teachers to follow the example set by the Vanderbilt Institute in their creation of the Jasper Woodbury adventure series, I discourage teachers from following prescriptive, detailed lessons that limit creativity and personal expression.  Do we need to have school children all over the continent planning to rescue the eagle, or do we need to have school children all over the continent planning.  

And while they are planning, let’s not forget why they are doing the planning and who they can help in the process.


 

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