Saturday, July 31, 2010

WCYDWT defined? more...

Here's another "What Can You do With This?" lesson grabber. Watch the video. What are your reactions?
My reaction was (and still is): "This is cool!" My next thought was: "Can I turn this into a math session motivator?" That is, can I get my students attention long enough to transition into an engaging & productive math activity? (As always, there is a devil ready to snarl progress in developing the details.) Dan Meyer who shared this video on his blog is thinking about how this might become a starting point for building a curriculum unit around it. I like the idea a lot because it feeds my mantra of what pieces a lesson scenario should have.

I say "we" in step 3 because as the teacher I'm learning right along with the kids so I want to share as well.
Dan has gone further by creating a more story-like 3-step process rubric. From his latest blog entry:
(In the) Beginning:
  • engage the students with multimedia — pictures, videos, sound.
  • the students come up with the question.
  • the students make predictions — “give me a guess.”
  • the students establish a range around their answer — “give me a wrong answer. give me an answer that’s too high, that’s too low.”
  • there isn't information on the first image.
  • “announce the problem’s constraints quickly and clearly.”
  • ask questions that lend themselves to guesses: "how long? how many? how heavy? how far? how fast?"
  • try to translate questions that are harder to guess into questions that don't change the objective but which lend themselves to guesses: "what is the area? what is the circumference?"
  • ask: “what information do you need to solve this?”
  • ask: “how do you know that?”
  • ask: “why?” “how?” — even on right answers.
  • encourage students to explain their reasoning to other students.
  • ask students to collaborate — “what do you think about jerold did?”
  • ask: “how would that help you?” after they tell you certain information is necessary.
  • ask: “what isn’t necessary to find the answer? what information don’t we care about?”
  • ask students to summarize the process.
In my "model" the middle portion (above) is still in the setting the stage phase, but that doesn't detract from these suggested steps being very helpful in framing my actions in a way that maximizes the possibility for learning.
Not all "stage setter" learning objects have the same impact. Dan's Water tank activity left me a bit dry, because I didn't find the video had much intrinsic motivation. (In other words, I didn't think it was "cool".) But like all devices for grabbing a student's attention, the context in which the learning object is presented is crucial. That's why I like to use video clips that pass my "Who cares?" test. It makes the transition to building the context around it smoother & easier.
See also my companion blog "Scenes from a Dynamic Math Classroom" for some of my WCYDWT tinkering.

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