My (former) students are probably still sleeping on this fine Sunday morning, and here I am, thinking about the first day of school in August. It’s not entirely my fault. I just had two days of PD with (THE) Dan Meyer and my wheels are turning.
I’ve been an avid follower of Dan’s for years, but having him stop through our district to work with us in person sends a powerful message (in my mind). We’re all learning how to incorporate PLCs, iPads, and big ol’ district semester “common assessments” (you better “cover” half the curriculum by the halfway point in the school year… or else!) while still maintaining strategies and problem-solving tasks that sometimes make a pacing guide little more than a (theoretical) suggestion.
Having Dan come to work with our math faculty makes me feel like I have been granted permission to do more of what I know works with kids in my teaching. I feel empowered to set aside the pacing guide a little more, and though time will inevitably *still* be my enemy, I’m not going to let it rule my classroom quite so much, or use it as a reason to *not* do what my kids need.
I’m going to be brutally honest here. I created this resource two years ago and I have never used it with students. And that makes me sad. So, as part of more typical beginning of the year routines, I want to make this task our first assignment of the year. I want students to start day 1 of my classes seeking curiosities and relevance, making connections to math and “the real world” of a middle schooler, encouraging the simple but powerful idea of questioning, all the while very intentionally introducing a model for problem-solving.
Here’s a sample of “The Math Cam” template at work. I created it. It’s time to let kids do something with it. I can see this as a strategy to use throughout the school year. I see value in students’ sharing their photos with one another, formulating questions about each other’s pictures… and seeking answers to those questions.