Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Prove It!: Viable Arguments

This is the "TREE" mnemonic we used for reading response.  
Last month students worked on writing convincing arguments using the TREE mnemonic: Topic, Reason, Evidence, Explanation.  Using this mnemonic students wrote to convince their families and others about whether or not students they should clean their rooms or have cell phones.

Now that it's math month, and it is a time to transfer this knowledge to math by writing in a way that can prove a mathematical concept. How can we transfer the "TREE" writing concept to math.

First, We'll revisit TREE with respect to writing. We'll talk about the fact that this gave us a way to remember how to write a convincing argument.  Then together, we'll use TREE to craft a convincing argument as to why 1/2 is greater than 1/3.  As we do this we'll discuss the topic and reason.  Then we'll decide on what kinds of evidence (pictures, numbers and words) we can use to prove our point.  Then we'll end the argument with a summary statement.

Different from our written arguments, we'll include more diagrams in our math discussion. Then I'll give each team of students a a couple of fractions to compare.  I'll differentiate the assignment based on students demonstrated ability and understanding of fractions.  After that I'll show students a few examples of last year's Khan project and let them transfer their written arguments to a digital argument.  Finally students will share their "Prove It" arguments and as a class we'll assess what made each argument viable, and ways that the arguments could have been improved.

This will provide a nice inroad to the Mathematical Practice 3: "Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Let me know if you have ideas as to how to strengthen this activity.  Thanks for your consideration.