Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Evening with Dan Meyer

I attended Dan Meyer's Math 2.0 on Wed evening. Here are the points which I took away from Dan's webinar:

First, Dan used a great "river" picture and analogy to engage the online community from the beginning of the webinar. "Math is a river ... we're all in the same raft taking the journey together. The teacher is the guide." I found myself wondering why he's using the river and why it's significant in mathematics. I may "borrow" this idea for my students at the beginning of the school year!

A few quotes from Dan ...

"If I paddle harder, it means the kids don't have to paddle as hard." Again, consistent with Dan's rafting analogy and a good reminder to me that the person doing the work is the person doing the learning. If I (as a teacher) am working hard, I am learning, but is that the goal? The goal is for my students to do the work ... and the learning. I am the guide!

Engagement in a word problem: "How many tickets do you think are on the roll?" This question is simple enough that the kids can take a reasonable guess and get involved in the word problem. Dan encouraged "setting boundaries" when answering a word problem. For example "How many tickets is too low? too high?" This encourages students to validate that their "final" answer is a reasonable answer.

Follow Ups: "Take what was the answer and make it the new question." This approach, first of all, shows that Dan is engaged with his students and they are engaged in the discussion. I find this challenging sometimes, because I know what the "end" of the class is supposed to be and sometimes move forward with my own agenda. Learning this type of flexibility will be beneficial for me and, hopefully, for my students!

Dan's transparency about his own weaknesses is refreshing, also. I believe that teachers who act as if they do not make mistakes or attempt to cover their mistakes can sometimes expose their own insecurities. The fact that Dan is secure enough in his approach is transparent to me in a one hour webinar and certainly apparent to his students. I can only hope to be like Dan when I grow up :-)

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