Do you have a go to place where you look for inspiration and innovation? For us, it’s TED Talks so from now on, Tuesdays are TED Talk Tuesday. Here is our pick of the week.
In this talk, Dan Meyer clearly illustrates the difference between poor math instruction and math instruction that engages students in deep thinking while sharing how he develops real world questions and problem posing.
He states the obvious, that “Math reasoning is hard to teach. The way we teach it in the U.S. all but ensures they won’t get it.” We know that, we see it in classrooms often. Are you wondering how successful you are?
Five Signs You’re Doing It Wrong
1. Lack of Initiative – Your students are not self starters.
2. Lack of Perseverance – Your students give up, they lack grit. If the answer is not immediately clear, they expect you to hold their hand and walk them through it.
3. Lack of Retention– You find yourself teaching, and reteaching, and reteaching. It just doesn’t hold.
4. Aversion to Word Problems-They hate word problems.
5. Eagerness for a Formula…to solve said hated word problems.
We’re guessing you are reading this because you value education and you want to get it right. You desire your students to excel and your instruction to create depth and understanding in those whose minds you’re shaping. So why do educators find it necessary to go back to the old multiple choice stand by? We’ve witnessed students answering multiple choice questions like nobody’s business, but change one nuance and they are lost.
Meyer makes a great point. Have you ever faced a problem in which you were given all the information necessary to solve it… in advance? Or better yet been given several options to choose from…wisely? We haven’t either.
We were so excited when we saw this talk. He breaks the development of good questioning down, starting with a picture and getting kids talking, bringing in math, as the kids see the need for finding ways to talk about what they see, and then having the kids pose questions that need answering.
The beauty of starting with a picture, or something that all kids know about, is that it levels the playing field. One of his examples deals with filling a water tank. He shows it and then asks kids how long it would take to fill it. Kids see the picture and watch a video of it being filled. Now, when they talk about filling the tank, every kid is on equal footing, even those kids that have decided they don’t need to talk about math, because someone else has the answer – every kid has filled something, so they have experience upon which they can draw. He then takes guesses and writes them down. He found that in the course of one semester, he could put a new problem on the board, something they have never see,n and the kids would have conversations about it.
1. Use multimedia in your class -as often as you can, the best quality you can.
2. Encourage student intuition – to level the playing field for all students.
3. Ask the shortest question you can – and then let the other, more specific questions develop through conversation.
4. Let students build the problem.
5. Be less helpful – knowing it will develop patient problem solvers.
“It is an amazing time to be a math teacher.” We have the tools at our fingertips.
For more insight, follow his blog.
April and Diane