Another case working together benefits everyone

In another case of “working together benefits all”.  Dan Meyer posted a picture of himself throwing a ball into a trash can.  Except, he only posted the first half of the flight.  (See the original here.) This picture is one in his series of “What can you do with this?”, that challenges educators to think outside of their comfort zone and think inside of relevant, challenging, and interesting lessons.

David Cox then takes that lesson, and explodes it into a terrific lesson on quadratics, measurement and all around engaging math.  Oh, except it really wasn’t David.  IT WAS HIS LEARNERS who exploded it and created a fabulous lesson out of it.  Crazy what learners can do when we stop spoon feeding them and give them tools and interesting problems.

Well, ColleenK had to one up everyone and create an applet that would allow for anyone to do the same problem with different initial conditions.

I can see starting with Dan’s picture. Throwing that on the screen and asking the question that Dan asked. Will he hit the can?  Leave it at that.   Let the learners decide what they need to know in order to answer the question.  Having Geogebra handy would be a great idea.  Allowing the learners to answer the question on their own, with support and guidance when legitimately asked for (meaning “i don’t get it” is not legitimate) and the encouragement to TRY.

Summing up with something like David did, allowing each group to show how their solution is different or the same, and then putting Colleen’s app on the screen and giving each group a completely different set of initial conditions.  Or better yet, out to the lawn with a digital camera and MAKE sets of initial conditions.

Now that is successful teaching at it’s finest.

Why don’t more teachers communicate like this to see the really innovative and creative stuff we can do? (sorry, not the purpose of this post, but still a question that must be asked.)

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