Here is a perfect example of what I am talking about when I say that I am searching for better. I love the idea of this lesson. It is a self-contained construction of a topic that will allow students to construct knowledge with a real-life component that has difficult, yet manageable components that can be worked through with some discussion and visualization.

I want all of my lessons to have this type of setup. Teaser that has some real elements to it (or at the very least something that makes them make the leap between theoretical and actual mathematics) and the, for lack of a better word, rote part of the lecture where they get the x’s and o’s of the problem set through lecture (video or direct). I feel so torn because sometimes, I do not have the real element to the lesson that makes them derive meaning and attach it to something with which they can relate . Too often I am trying to make the mundane mathematics interesting and I wonder (along with my students) “how will they use this in their real lives?”. In many ways, I want to take the human element out of it and make a self-contained set of lessons that are accessible to all that achieve the goals of making math relevant without using some of those contrived, text-book pictures of ferris wheels and price-per mp3 download problems. I don’t like teaching those, and they don’t like word problems.

I know that there is a need for the lecture style “plunge ahead” through graphing trig functions, quadradics and matrices, more often than not “higher-level” mathematics that are a necessity for the next-step, but I want real, sneeky-mathematics that sucker you in with the perplexity and awe of something that you relate to and then POW, hit you with the x’s and o’s of the problem solving process.

I am conflicted because I am in love with arguments about “which is the better deal”, “no, you can’t prove that those two lines are parallel” that get kids “talking math”, but I struggle to get through some of the process-driven mathematics that work against creativity and problem solving by reducing it to a process that must be followed. I am guilty as charged into boiling it down, but I find myself recently outsourcing the “processes” and their explanations to my video-lecture in the evening and working to make it meaningful in the class time, while reviewing the process.

HOW DO I DO THIS FOR ALL OF MY LESSONS?

is the question that I wrestle with. I am conflicted about the value of some mathematical concepts in the lives of these kids which by-proxy causes me to question my methodology in teaching them. Perhaps I do not know enough about the concepts to make them relevant, but I have to think that there is a way to collect meaningful resources that can attach relevance and interest to even the most mundane mathematics.

EDIT:

a couple of hours after I posted this, Dan Meyer posted this. (or at least, that is when I read it) I would like to think that it was directly to me…yeah, right….wishful thinking. I just know that there are many others out there who are wrestling with this same thing. I think what Dan has to say (as always, is great, but this post specifically) is a start to a solution, but I still want more.