Last year I used a lot of videos to introduce problems in my math classes.
My favorite problem was introduced using a clip from the movie The Bone Collector where a cop takes a picture of a footprint next to a dollar. Clip here. I got the idea from Dan Meyer’s blog.
I showed the students the clip, but then let them ask the questions. I would answer most questions, but generally try to make sure that the conversation centered on scale. Then, I would pass out rulers and the picture. Students were given the information about how big a dollar really is and how big different shoe sizes were, but only if they asked. In this way, a video problem like this is superior to a textbook problem. With a textbook problem, all of the necessary information must be laid out in an obvious way, but with a problem like this, much like in the real world, information must be searched for and found. In another classroom with more technology resources, I might instead let the students use computers or tablets to find the relevant information online on their own.
Once each student or group of students has an answer, I would reveal the movie’s answer using this clip:
I really enjoyed introducing multimedia problems like this one and so did my students.
I used other teacher’s blogs very frequently last year for inspiration, but I rarely posted on my own. I had a school-provided blog for each class I taught and I would sometimes post content for students to use both during class (links for lessons in the computer lab) and at home (videos, reviews, and other materials to reinforce work we’d done in class).
Here are some videos from blogging math teachers where they describe the how and why of their starts in blogging. They cite two key reasons for starting their blogs: 1. Cataloging and reflecting on lessons and classroom experiences and 2. Interacting with other teachers to give and receive feedback and improve math teaching everywhere. Though the first reason, keeping a “teacher journal”, is an excellent way to keep track of work and improve as an individual, the second reason is the one that drives me to start blogging. I want to participate in the community of teacher bloggers that I have so often used as a resource in my young teaching career. I know that I have only scratched the surface of the learning and professional development that I can have in that area.
For my classroom blogs, I would like to share the experience with students. I would like my classroom blog to be a place where I not only post videos and reviews, but also ask the kinds of questions that require a little more reflection than quick in-class discussion allows. I want my classroom blogs to give students an outlet to share tricky problems and problem-solving strategies. Essentially, I want my students to have the same kind of experience with my classroom blog that I want to get from teacher blogs. Online and social media interaction is only increasing these days and it is important that students learn that there are worthwhile learning-oriented things to use it for outside of the informality and banality of daily Twitter/Facebook time. Blogs are a form of “literature” and a type of reading/writing that are only going to become more prominent.
Lastly, because I have moved out of Tennessee and I am not teaching until I can student teach here in Kentucky. In my current job, I am not immersed in education like I was last year so it’s a little more difficult to come up with and keep good ideas for lessons. I’d really like to use this blog as a place to post and develop ideas for teaching in the years to come. I’m really looking forward to my career as a teacher even if I’ve had a little hiccup.