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.