- So, how do you like your marshmallows?
- What do you do to get them toasted just right?
- And how might the Values provided above change the way we teach math in the early grades?
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Friday, July 23, 2021
At the end of the school year, I vowed that I'd never be so disorganized in my teaching ever again. I spent the entire summer planning my lessons for the next year. I was assigned 8th grade math again and also an Algebra class. By the time school started, I could tell you exactly what I'd be doing during either class any day of the year.
It was my worst year of teaching. I had spent so much time focusing on the content that I had totally forgotten about the students. And I put so much effort into the plans that I was resistant to altering them. My students and I were all miserable.
I share this story with the teachers I work with as a cautionary tale. It's tempting to want to be totally prepared for every lesson. Unfortunately, it's impossible. It's better to have a lesson prototype in mind that can be altered in response to feedback from students. We use a version of this One-Sentence Lesson Plan as a framework for our prototypes for designing math adventures. The incompleteness leaves room for student-voice and student-choice during the lesson experiment.
So, instead of spending the summer planning out every detail of the coming school year, please keep it simple and give yourself some time to recreate and restore. Maybe you could explore some new places. This will hopefully re-energize you and allow you to be more responsive to the students in your classes.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
First, I need you to break into one of two groups. Each group will do a different task. Let's assign your task based on your birthdate. If the day of your birth is odd, then do the first task. If it is even, then do the second one. (e.g. I was born on the 29th, so I'd be in group one.)
To begin, click on the appropriate link provided below. It will open up a copy of a Jamboard with the task's question. You can do your work on the Jamboard (it is yours to keep) or on a separate piece of paper.
Task One (odd birthdates)
Task Two (even birthdates)
Don't read any farther until you've completed your task or you'll ruin the surprise.
Once you've completed your task, click on the other task question and consider how that question might result in different solutions and why.
The first group often comes up with a variety of creative vases. Some have multiple openings at the top. Some hold the flowers sideways. However, because of the way the question is framed, they are all obviously vases.
Very few vases show up in the second group. Instead, flowers grow on the wall or hang from the ceiling. One participant had the flowers floating in a clear container with a fan at the bottom. Sure, it might not actually be feasible, but it is a much more creative way to start seeking solutions.
IBM does a version of this activity in theirEnterprise Design Thinking Course
I ask educators to do these tasks to highlight that most of our efforts to innovate in math classrooms amount to the first task. No matter what we do, we just end up with another vase. This is one reason why Kathy and I wrote Designing Math Adventures - because we want learners to experience something more than another math lesson.
So, what's the question you'll ask to frame your next school year? I'd like to collect them in the comments. Thanks for contributing to our creative problem-solving.
Saturday, June 26, 2021
In planning the book, Designing Math Adventures, Kathy and I took Simon Sinek's advice and started by identifying our WHY: to support educators' efforts to improve K-8 math learning.
Based on our interactions with thousands of teachers, we can confirm that Brené Brown is right. Most of us are doing the best we can under the circumstances. This doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. We wrote this book to help teachers to make the subtle shifts necessary to change their current circumstances and improve the teaching and learning of math in their classrooms.
HOW can teachers change their circumstances? Sometimes it's as simple as doing more of what’s working and less of what’s not. The level of intentionality we are talking about requires an honest examination of our teaching practice. This type of reflection isn't always easy.
WHAT Designing Math Adventures offers is a design thinking tool that supports teachers in creating meaningful math lessons. By considering five straightforward questions, teachers can write a lesson that responds to the mathematical brilliance of their students in thirty minutes or less. We know teachers are incredibly busy, so we want to ensure that the approach is both sustainable and satisfying.
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
I haven't posted on this blog for nearly two years and nine months. It's not that I lost confidence in the power of blogging as a way to share and reflect on my thinking. I just got busy.
Ela Ben-Ur: Design Thinking and You (GVSU DT Speaker Series)
I learned about Ela's work on this episode of the Design Thinking 101 podcast.
This introduction to the Compass lead to the second project that has been occupying my time - writing a book. Kathy and I have been wanting to write about the Teaching & Learning Cycle for some time, but we always felt like something was lacking. When we learned about the Innovators' Compass and how it can help people to get unstuck or explore uncharted territory, we thought it would be a good resource for teachers engaging in the Cycle.
Innovators' Compass - design thinking cycle (hexagons) - Teaching & Learning Cycle (purple)
Now that a draft of the book is done (#DesigningMathAdventures) and sent to some publishers, I'm not as busy. Because I had set aside an hour each morning to engage in creative writing and didn't want to lose that momentum, I decided to fire up the old blog. I figured it would not only give me something to do while we wait to hear from the publishers but also allow me to share some parts from our writing that didn't make the latest cut.
Thanks for indulging me in this exercise of creativity. As always, if you have any questions, please post them below or reach out on Twitter (@delta_dc). The comments are open.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
There's a triangle of three different things that have to come together to really unlock human accomplishments for people with disabilities. And those involve assistive technology, personal assistance—somebody that's aware, understanding how to support you, and three is coping strategies. And so these three things sort of create a variety of tools.
A curriculum is often designed for the normal/average student.
In reality, a student and the curriculum are typically mismatched.
I'm still processing a lot of this and would appreciate you sharing your thoughts in the comments.
Thursday, December 14, 2017