The Standard POW Write-up
Problems of the Week (POWs) are an important part of the Interactive Mathematics Program. They will give you experience in carrying out extended investigations of complex problems. These problems will not necessarily be connected to the rest of the unit.
Despite the name, you will sometimes have more than one week to work on a POW. But you should begin work on these problems as soon as you get them. They take more time than an ordinary homework assignment. You will benefit from working a little bit every night, leaving the POW for a while and then coming back to it. POW's give you a chance to write about the mathematics you are doing. You will be expected to explain your thinking more fully in these assignments than in regular class activities and homework. Be sure to leave enough time for this writing.
POW's are accompanied by write-up directions, usually divided into five components. When POW write-ups introduce new components or give specific information, follow those instructions. If a POW lists a component by name only, look back at these descriptions.
The Standard POW Write-up Sections:
1. Problem Statement: State the problem clearly in your own words. Your problem statement should be clear enough that someone unfamiliar with the
problem could understand what you are being asked to do.
2. Process: Describe what you did in attempting to solve the problem. Use your notes as a reminder. Include things that didn't work or that seemed like a
waste of time. Do this part of the write-up even if you didn't solve the problem. If you get assistance of any kind on the problem, tell what the assistance was and how it helped you.
3. Solution: State your solution as clearly as you can. Explain how you know that your solution is correct and complete. If you obtained only a partial solution, give that. If you were able to generalize the problem, include your general results. Write your explanation in a way that will be convincing to someone else—even someone who initially disagrees with your answer.
4. Extensions: Invent some extensions or variations to the problem. That is, write down some related problems. They can be easier, harder, or about the same level of difficulty as the original problem. (You don’t have to solve these additional problems.)
5. Self-assessment: Tell what you learned from this problem. Be as specific as you can. Assign yourself a grade for your work the POW, and explain why you think you deserve that grade.