Highlights and Impressions of “Jasper Woodbury”

When I first began watching the videos from the Jasper series, I worried that the series would be too difficult and would cause more anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed by math, than positive outcomes. However, as I read the associated articles and re-watched the videos, I realized that the series provided many opportunities students needed to allow them to learn perseverance, resiliency and deep-thinking in relation to “real-life” problems. Through a series like Jasper Woodbury, students are given a fairly unique opportunity to use student-based learning, to develop inquiry skills, and to develop problem-solving skills to tackle multi-leveled questions. Rather than simply focusing on one aspect of a math curriculum, or on only computational skills, students are presented with scenarios that require them to ask questions and use conceptual and procedural, as well as computational, knowledge to solve “real life” problems. As an educator, I would be interested in implementing a video series like “The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury” to see how students respond in terms of engagement, motivation, and understanding of abstract concepts. It would be interesting to see how the use of technology would support students, or whether there would be difficulties that hinder students who are less familiar or comfortable with technology. I have a student who is on the Autism Spectrum and who struggles significantly with academics. This student would likely benefit from the oral delivery of information, but could potentially become very frustrated with the technology delivering the information to him; for example, if he were attempting to re-watch a scene, but was struggling to find the correct “part” he was looking for. I do also question how effective the Jasper series would be for students who struggle with auditory processing and sequencing. One thing I really liked about the Jasper series was the fact that students would be encouraged to watch and work together, developing collaboration skills that are essential in today’s world.

As far as becoming a potential TELE designer, “The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury” series brings up many important questions around student-centred learning, engagement, and problem-solving experiences. As I consider what a program I might develop would look like, I am drawn to the idea of a series that is more student-centred. There are many memes today that poke fun at math problems of the past which asked students to figure out questions to the effect of: how many watermelons would Sally have if she bought 23 watermelons on Monday and five additional watermelons each day for one week. Questions like this are not only foreign to students because they cannot link their own life experiences to the question, they also do not promote the deeper-level thinking required by the problems presented in the Jasper series. If I were to design a series in a similar format to “The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury,” the first thing I would need to determine would be what scenarios would be more engaging for my students. I would also want to be aware of including cultural content in my video as I have many First Nations students in my class. In addition to this, I would want to develop scenarios that would appeal to both boys and girls in my class, and that students from households of all income-levels could connect to. As was discussed in my initial response to the Jasper series (titled “Adventures with Jasper and Math”), I believe the best approach to creating videos might be to have students design their own videos. This would not only have them involved in the development process of video creation, it would also allow them the opportunity to approach the math problems from the “other side” giving them a new way (perhaps) of viewing math problem-solving. If students know that they have created videos for each other, they may feel less overwhelmed, as well as excited about the idea of solving a problem created by a friend or classmate.

Ultimately, I felt that “The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury” provided an innovative (although not new as it was created many years ago) approach to involving students in their own learning, and connecting math to real-life experiences though video and multistep problem-solving, allowing students to prepare for the future in a variety of ways. Math was no longer simply about math. Math became about life.

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