Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Out of the classroom today: Dan Meyer

I got to see the great Dan Meyer present today!  He began with his pennies pyramid video and then we spent time talking about how many pennies were in that pyramid and how could we figure it out.  It was totally engaging and I enjoyed getting to show someone at my table how to put a list of numbers into the graphing calculator to get to the answer quickly.  Dan had me beat though.  He showed us a cool summation calculator online that made easier work of it.  I love getting new websites!  I could definitely see how this approach to teaching students about summation and sigma notation could really "suck them in".  A roomful of educators was totally enthralled (and no, they were not all math teachers)!

Later in the day, we looked at textbook problems and talked about how we could take information away and have the students create questions like "what is this picture about?" if we were to strip away everything except the labels on the bottom of the graph (even the graph grid taken away).  I can tell you as a participant, even I (a math teacher, gasp) am less interested in the problem until you take all that "fluff" away and let me develop the questions.  It became interesting then.

One of Dan's strategies when developing questions that he referred to several times is "creating a headache" that some math information will be the aspirin for.  I like that analogy because it's true, in mathematics, we often try to hand out aspirin when there is no headache yet.  As teachers, we need to create a headache situation for which the math is the aspirin.  Dan fostered a "fight/argument" among us for which we WANTED to be able to use math to justify/support our own opinion/position.  I have to say, it makes it SO MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL for students (and adults alike).

Since I have poked around on the internet looking at "good stuff", I already knew about his lengthy list of 3 Act lessons.  But if you are not familiar with them, enjoy this site.  There are enough to last an entire school year!!

After all that mental stimulation, I had barely enough active cells left to listen to Dr. Sherry Parrish's talk, on Global Math Dept site,  about number talks.  I totally HAVE to do this with my students.  It is a GREAT way to see what strategies they are using and have them share.  It was fascinating watching the video clip she provided and listening to the students explanations of how they multiplied 16 by 35.  I was amazed at all the different ways!  I always get excited when students show me a "different way"!  I highly recommend Global Math Dept presentations every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Back to my students tomorrow!!  Hope I'm feeling energized!! It's the day before the test and they will be stressing out (like always), and two days before the Homecoming Rally (yikes! this makes them crazy!).

P.S. I've been looking at some of the "make-up test" videos that I let my Calculus students create.  I will have to create another post to talk about them!  Stay tuned.....


  1. So mad at you for not introducing yourself as THE Paula Torres. Thanks for hanging out and participating today.

    1. LOL!! I try to keep a low profile! Thanks for a great day!