iPad Day 3

16 Jun

On day three we had the unique opportunity to hear from Dan Meyer, a Math Teacher who is currently studying at Stanford University. We got our introduction to Dan through a TED Talks video he did about a year go, you can watch it here http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover.html. What was interesting is the way Dan looked at curriculum, that he was taking teaching and learning out of the text book and putting in real world applications so that students see value, make connections and have a much greater buy in/motivation to tackle the problems at hand.

After watching the TED video, Dan came on via a web cam and spoke to the group. I am going to high light a few of his points that I feel are very relevant to any curricular area. One of his discoveries had to do with Story Telling. From previous posts I have done as well as some of the podcasts I have shared, people love stories. Dan highlighted some popular films, like Star Wars, and broke them into three Acts:

Act I: you learn about your story, usually no words but you can guess what is going on from the imagery.

Act II: you gather tools and resources to help you accomplish a task.

Act III: resolution, you achieve your goal using the tools and resources provided to you.

The example that Dan used had to do with showing a water tank and asking the kids how long it would take to fill the tank. He would show a short clip of the tank filling, then pop the question. Next, he would ask the kids what they need to know in order to get the rate at which the tank will fill, then – as a class – they watched the entire video and timed out the exact rate of time it takes to fill the tank. This is highly counterintuitive to traditional teaching where you have the kids go over example after example – drill problems to no end – refer back to the examples for help, and check the back of the book for the answers. After the task is accomplished, Dan moves in to his skill practice.

I spent a lot of time this past year trying to teach my kids to think, to connect and to find value in the English curriculum I teach (I wrote a bit about it here https://soberandsaucy.wordpress.com/#!/entry/149). I discovered after a while that value the kids saw in what I taught was not really there, especially with my ESL and low performing students. I had some success, but not as much as I would have liked nor what I thought my students could accomplish if they applied themselves more.

I started utilizing technology in class, like showing kids how to use their cell phones for learning, shooting video and creating projects and intros to better catch student interest. It took a bit more time on my part in the beginning – I’ve shared a few in this blog, much more to come – but in the end I started to see greater student engagement. One example was a student generated service project is where I had the students research, evaluate and create a public service announcement for a specific cause. Embedded in that lesson were concepts behind persuasion and capturing student interest.

Two challenges I have for the next year are to blog, collaborate and share more. I’m excited to receive feedback, track down other educators that are sharing to and see what other teachers are doing in schools across the globe. After all, we do live in a society that allows for transparency and collaboration on a greater level than any we have seen in history. As an educator, I feel, that if I am not working towards professional improvement on daily, weekly and annual process, I am not modeling professional growth to my students and I am not giving value to the work I do.

For more on Dan – and there is a lot – you can check out his blog at http://blog.mrmeyer.com/

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