Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Three Strategies for Getting Students Engaged in Math"

Or something like that.  Dan Meyer's workshop had some or most of those words in the title.  I believe the words Common Core also appeared, but I don't care because the workshop itself was one of the most fascinating useful pieces of professional development I have done in a while (at least since last Thursday when the Math Forum crew were in Bridgewater MA!)

Anyone who has seen Dan work the room, knows what I am talking about here:  we are his colleagues, we are helping him out, we are creating a website, we are in on the joke about that "other group" a few years back that "got it wrong", and could we please share what that "other group" got wrong?

Oh. My. Word.  Six hours flew by and I have so much I want to play with, think about, create, delete, try again.  LOVE it.

The three take aways:

1. Create a fight:  cause controversy (oh yeah, hear that MP3?). If it is an opinion, no one can be wrong if answering "Which is best?"

2. Turn up the math dial: slowly!  Start with no words, no explanation (or minimal explanation, or broad question) and slowly add in some numbers, etc until they do some math or beg for a quicker way to do it.  Which leads to....

3. Create a headache:  "If the math you want them to do is the 'aspirin' (that which mathematicians use to make life easier), then what was the 'headache'?  What caused mathematicians to come up with this faster, quicker way of doing things?"

But most of all, Dan assured us that we are all good.  We work hard and not every day is going to be a stellar day and sometimes it takes 5 years to figure out how to create the headache!  But don't give up and don't beat yourselves up.  What a message of hope, inspiration, and validation.  Well done, Dan.  Thank you!

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