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Dan Meyer Comes to ESSDACK to Discuss Real World Math
I first heard of Dan Meyer from his TED video regarding real-world math where he outlines the problems with today's math textbooks and the lack of engagement of our students. Dan has the desire to continue his work in changing math education in the United States. Through his blogs and videos he discusses four signs of how we should know that we are doing math-reasoning wrong in our classrooms:
1. Lack of initiative in our students.
2. Lack of retention from our students.
3. Aversion to word problems.
4. Student eagerness for a formula.
Dan began by engaging us in a rich math problem regarding the amount of money that is on the walls for the Guggenheim Museum where one whole room is layered in one-dollar bills. After he modeled, what he referred to as the three acts, we broke down the lesson and discussed the teacher moves he made, beginning, middle, and end. This break down included:
Beginning of lesson
Dan began by telling a story about his lack of enjoyment of museums until he saw the one with money. He set up a problem that involved money that included visuals and a sketch-up of the room. He asked us (students) to write down a question, to share with a neighbor, then share with the class. Dan accepted every question, and asked, "Who else wanders that?" and added to the count. He intentionally answered the questions that were irrelevant to the math and focused the class on one question. He asked each of us to guess how much money was in the room, then he asked for us to write down a high and a low guesses.
Middle of lesson
Dan encouraged us to help him solve the problem. He asked, "What do you need to know?" He made a list for us all to see. He gave needed information (blueprint of the room and a close up picture, including how much overlap and area was covered). He asked more questions, we built the problem together. He facilitated by walking around, asking groups what we were doing and took notes on various strategies.
End of lesson
Dan asked if your answer fit in your guidelines, range, and boundaries? He gave an extension problem that hopefully doesn't seem like busy work. Dan facilitated summary discussion where he formalizes the mathematics and discusses strategies.
The outline above can be used for any math problem and was really the basis of what he referred to as Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3 which he used a movie as an analogy.
We have to find the "hook" that will engage our students. This is found in Act 1. The remainder of our time was spent looking at current textbooks and lessons and creating our own engaging real world problem.
This process Dan Meyer took us through will be used this summer with our MSP participants as we start looking at lesson design. This process also aligns with Common Core Standards and the 8 Mathematical Practices.
Thanks Dan Meyer, your ideas and message is one that all math teachers across our country needs to hear. For more of Dan Meyer see his blog at http://blog.mrmeyer.com/