Redesigned: Alex Eckert

Before:

Treadmill WCYDWT from Alexander Eckert on Vimeo.

An e-mail from reader Kara Monroe:

I had a moment on the bike at the gym last night thinking of all the different questions student would naturally form just from looking at the display on a stationary bike.

I’m obliged to Kara and Alex for the inspiration here. A few remarks on Alex’s video to preface my redesign:

  1. I’d like my students to look at the world and formulate their own mathematical questions. Therefore I’d like to show them as good of a facsimile of the world as digital video will allow. This means no artifice like a soundtrack or text on the screen. This also means I prefer fixing a camera to a tripod so the students aren’t distracted by this third party holding the camera.
  2. Part of formulating and solving a question is deciding what information is important. So I removed the part where Alex tips them to the percent and the time elapsed: “Watch closely: 31:30 … 90% complete.”
  3. I don’t include this in my redesign (which I faked from elements of Alex’s video) but you’d want to film the rest of the exercise session in order to show students the answer.

After:

Redesigned: Alex Eckert from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

About 
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school teacher, former graduate student, and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.

8 Comments

  1. ClimeGuy

    September 17, 2010 - 6:52 am

    Nice redesign! But Im not sure kids would know what to look for here. These are just a bunch of numbers on the screen that’s on a treadmill dashboard. But without more “story” I’m not all that interested in it. Again, that’s from a students perspective. And right now Im the student and I need more context to make it a PMO. From my experience getting students to come up with good questions is not easy and requires a lot of prior prep on the part of the teacher. But I guess finding how to do that best is the next step in the WCYDWT process.

  2. Will Emeny

    September 17, 2010 - 10:47 pm

    Loving the idea. What questions could you ask?:

    How long is the total workout? i.e. what will the time be when it gets to 100% complete?

    If he doubled his speed from then until the end of the run, how far would he travel?

  3. Dan Meyer

    September 19, 2010 - 1:00 pm

    @Will, good questions. I’d like to point out the advantage of the first over the second is that you can verify the answer with video.

    @ClimeGuy, maybe the kids wouldn’t know what to look for, maybe they wouldn’t have a question to ask. You’re welcome, at any point in the redesigned video, to step in and offer them that help. In the original video, though, the kids who would wonder how long the rest of the run will take and who would know what to look for don’t get the opportunity. That opportunity has been taken away.

  4. David L

    September 19, 2010 - 4:27 pm

    (1) Funny how we are all starting to think like this. I made a similar video for the first day of class – me on a treadmill, video of the running and of the ‘dashboard.’

    The question I wanted was “How long until the workout is over?” was not one that came naturally. I liked the idea for the first day, but I might be still waiting for the question if they weren’t guided to it.

    I’ll have to figure out how to edit and/or present it differently for next year.

    (2) I did another video of a clif diver – just a 45 second clip of a clif dive that went wrong. The questions that I wanted did come out naturally. The students guessed then calculated the answer. We were able to check their answers from an email reply to the diver in the video that I had sent him a couple weeks ago.

    Observation – we need to watch the video from a student perspective – if it’s still interesting, then there is a better chance of success. I personally thought my running on a treadmill video was gold, but maybe it’s wasnt’ as great as I wanted.

  5. ClimeGuy

    September 19, 2010 - 6:11 pm

    Dan writes: “In the original video, though, the kids who would wonder how long the rest of the run will take and who would know what to look for don’t get the opportunity. That opportunity has been taken away.”

    Or a thoughtful teacher might have paused the video at an appropriate time and asked an engaging question and then pressed play to see how it all turned out. The redesign makes it easier to do.

  6. Dan Meyer

    September 20, 2010 - 8:17 am

    ClimeGuy: The redesign makes it easier to do.

    Right. It’s like the rule of least power. How much structure is just enough to encourage a problem without overwhelming it?

  7. Greydanus_to_be

    September 25, 2010 - 2:24 pm

    The redesign is a lot easier to watch since the first one was so bouncy and hard to read the readings. I did like having some music on the video I am wonder if there was some type of music that you could have but that is not distracting from the purpose.

  8. Dan Meyer

    September 25, 2010 - 4:28 pm

    Greydanus_to_be: I did like having some music on the video I am wonder if there was some type of music that you could have but that is not distracting from the purpose.

    I can’t argue against the soundtrack with much enthusiasm today. I’ll say, though, that if Alex had posted his video without a soundtrack, it would let the rest of us add our own music without losing the ambient treadmill noise. Right now, if I want to add a Beegees track, I’d have to replace all of his audio, including the ambient.