I am a lucky person! I have had the honor of getting to hear math guru Dan Meyer give three very different talks today. I only wish the rest of my colleagues could have gone to hear his message. He is truly innovative, creative, and modest. He was surrounded by groupies today, me included. It was just so cool to be in his presence, his tall, tall presence....
Once I got over how tall he is (79 inches), I concentrated on every word. His first talk was about his Three-Acts and how we as teachers should be looking for math everywhere and taking pictures and videos and making them into problems for students to solve. It will make math come more alive than a boring textbook word problem. We compared some of his videos and photos and we saw, firsthand, how we were hooked. He has some we can use in our classroom on his blog under Three-Acts here: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/ He has photos under a site called 101 questions where anyone can post and ask what question comes to mind. It can be found here: www.101qs.com/. And, he discussed making over textbook problems on this website: http://reading13.mrmeyer.com/ . He is giving us as math teachers so many chances and opportunities to make math more fun and more accessible to more students. All while encouraging us to find more math in our own lives and to share it.
The second talk was his keynote speech to everyone at the conference and he was getting a lot of ooohs, aaahs, and chuckles, so even non-math people can relate. He said it was his "Education Technology Presentation for People Who Don't Like Education Technology Presentations". He taught us the stuff he looks for when dealing with technology and "Perplexity". Perplexity is when people wonder - they don't know something, but they want to know it, and they believe it is within their reach. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get this from all our students? He says we should try to 1.) Capture perplexity, 2.) Share perplexity, and 3.) Resolve perplexity. This was his Ed Tech Manifesto. Capturing perplexity - find it - search the internet, get an RSS reader that will do the looking for you, save it to a social bookmarking site and tag it so the future you can find it. Share perplexity - a lot of us have laptops, projectors, speakers, document cameras, software - use this to show student work, use it to sequence the interesting media you find and present it to your students. Resolve perplexity - what kind of math problem does this break down to, but more than that - start with it. Don't just start with a list of objectives on the board and work your own through it and some practice exercises and hope you have time to get to the interesting word problem. Make time for the problem. Start with it. Hook the kids. Cause them to be perplexed and then maybe they will actually care about the rest of the lesson.
And, finally, Understanding Common Core. Our school has switched to it in 9th grade Algebra I and I am about a day ahead in my planning of it and still not quite sure what it is all about, but in about an hour, Dan made sense out of it all. There are 8 mathematical practices and with one paper clipping example, he showed us how we can implement all 8. Amazing! (more in next post)