Starting this blog has inspired me to try new things in my classroom. It is as though writing about my practice is making me turn my thoughts and ideas into reality. It is making me go back to all of the ideas, websites and blogs that I have thought about using and trying and actually doing it!
One website is dy/dan – The blog of Dan Meyer – a Mathematics teacher. I first watched his TED Talk – Math class needs a makeover and this inspired me to rethink my work as a teacher of Maths. One strategy that Dan uses is “Any Questions?” to perplex and engage his students. He shows a video or photo or other stimulus material and asks his students to generate questions about the material. There is even a spinoff blog for this idea.
So… I tried it. I’ve tried it a couple of times with bags of Smarties and a few other items, but this time I really tried it.
I showed my students this clip of Usain Bolt running the 100m in the 2012 Olympic Games, well the Lego version of Usain Bolt running the 100m in the 2012 Olympic Games.
I then asked – Any Questions? My Year 8 Maths class came up with a huge range of questions including:
- How many bricks did they use in the animation?
- How fast did Usain Bolt run?
- How long did it take to make the video?
- What happened to the guy who came last?
- Why do people from Jamaica run faster that people from other countries?
So we Googled a few of the questions and calculated the average speed of Usain Bolt in this race. We decided what information we would need to calculate this value, gathered the information and used the speed formula to calculate his average speed.
The students were buzzing and asked to watch the “real race” and then the 200m race, and then the 4 x 100m relay race. All the while calculating the average speed of Usain Bolt and comparing the results for each race and trying to figure out the reasons for the differences.
Using the videos as stimulus engaged and perplexed the students in my class. It stimulated discussion and allowed the students to practice substitution of values in simple algebraic formulas.