# Trig Problem: Solved

I recently engaged in a project where I became a tech consultant for a classmate. We swapped our problems, and tried to solve them for each other. I was fortunate to be partnered with Drew Missureli, an experienced high school math teacher in California.

Drew’s Problem of Practice: One struggle I find while teaching my Precalculus class is the unit on Trigonometric Identities.  My students really struggle with solving and simplifying Trig Identities because it isn’t a simple step by step process like solving equations.  My first goal is I want my students to be confident to work on these problems individually.  My second goal is for my students to be successful at solving and simplifying these identities.

Process:

1. To gather resources and engaged in conversation with other teachers, I set up a Tweet Chat with my Personal Learning Network on Twitter. I was able to gather resources, and identify themes that gave me a direction for researching. Additionally, I was able to narrow down my “solutions” to five, that I could continue to work with.
• Follow full conversation from the #trigchat
• See my #trigchat blog
2. My next step was in diving deeper into research on trigonometric identities, and problem solving difficulties in mathematics. I found two resources which provided insight into Drew’s problem, and helped me determine what course of action he should take to solve his problem.
• Mathematics Education Research Journal
3. My last step in this process was to reach back to my PLN, discuss my findings, and collectively determine the best solution for this problem.
• PLN overwhelmingly believed that the number one priority and best practice involves improving problem-solving skills by focusing on executive functions

Executive Functions:

• Judgment
• Prioritizing
• Setting Goals, Providing Self-Feedback & Monitoring Progress
• Prior Knowledge Activation & Transfer Opportunities
• Metacognition

Prototyping: To accommodate for several major components of executive functioning, namely prioritizing, setting goals, and metacognition, I prototyped student learning journals using the app Seesaw (see the teacher guide).

Recommendation: I believe that in Mr. Missureli’s classroom, the pedagogical change needs to occur first. The addition of executive function building strategies will best help students overcome the challenges faced in this unit of study.