edu180atl: john burk 8.5.11
For the past two days, I have attended a professional development workshop led by Dan Meyer, a math teacher with a problem. Dan’s problem is that he loves math, but his students, like most students, do not.
You can understand this when you take a look at how many of our students see the story of math. Take a look at the problem above.
This math problem has a good shot simultaneously winning world’s most boring and traumatizing story.
Dan’s ideas for flipping math on its head come from looking at good stories and distilling their essential three acts.
- Act 1: Introduce the central conflict in a visceral way, using as few words as possible. Think Star Destroyer chasing Leia’s ship.
- Act 2: The protagonist/student overcomes obstacles. Think Luke learning to be a Jedi.
- Act 3: Resolve the conflict and set up the sequel. Think blowing up the Death Star.
How do you do that with a math problem? Simple—put the problem first, wordlessly. When students feel the problem in the gut, set them loose to seek out the information and tools they need to solve it. And finally, don’t wrap things up by checking the answer in the back of the book—give them a real world payoff that shows the math works. Blow up the Death Star. Here’s Dan’s hook for the problem above:
Working with Dan the past two days, I’ve learned that we can transform the story of math to make it every bit as gripping as the latest summer blockbuster. What would happen if we brough technique to the rest of education?