## The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story

May 11th, 2011 by Dan Meyer

**2013 May 14**. Here’s a brief series on how to teach with three-act math tasks. It includes video.

**2013 Apr 12**. I’ve been working this blog post into curriculum ideas for a couple years now. They’re all available here.

Storytelling gives us a framework for certain mathematical tasks that is both prescriptive enough to be *useful* and flexible enough to be *usable*. Many stories divide into three acts, each of which maps neatly onto these mathematical tasks.

**Act One**

**Introduce the central conflict of your story/task clearly, visually, viscerally, using as few words as possible.**

With *Jaws* your first act looks something like this:

The visual is clear. The camera is in focus. It isn’t bobbing around so much that you can’t get your bearings on the scene. There aren’t any words. And it’s visceral. It strikes you right in the terror bone.

With *math*, your first act looks something like this:

The visual is clear. The camera is locked to a tripod and focused. No words are necessary. I’m not saying anyone is going to shell out ten dollars on date night to do this math problem but you have a visceral reaction to the image. It strikes you right in the curiosity bone.

Leave no one out of your first act. Your first act should impose as few demands on the students as possible — either of language or of math. It should ask for little and offer a lot. This, incidentally, is as far as the #anyqs challenge takes us.

**Act Two**

**The protagonist/student overcomes obstacles, looks for resources, and develops new tools.**

Before he resolves his largest conflict, Luke Skywalker resolves a lot of smaller ones — find a pilot, find a ship, find the princess, get the Death Star plans back to the Rebellion, etc. He builds a team. He develops new skills.

So it is with your second act. What resources will your students need before they can resolve their conflict? The height of the basketball hoop? The distance to the three-point line? The diameter of a basketball?

What tools do they have already? What tools can you help them develop? They’ll need quadratics, for instance. Help them with that.

**Act Three**

**Resolve the conflict and set up a sequel/extension.**

The third act pays off on the hard work of act two and the motivation of act one. Here’s act three of *Star Wars*.

That’s a resolution right there. Imagine, though, that Luke fired his last shot and instead of watching the Death Star explode, we cut to a scene inside the Rebellion control room. No explosion. Just one of the commanders explaining that “the mission was a success.”

That what it’s like for students to encounter the resolution of their conflict in the back of the teacher’s edition of the textbook.

If we’ve successfully motivated our students in the first act, the payoff in the third act needs to meet their expectations. Something like this:

Now, remember Vader spinning off into the distance, hurtling off to set the stage for *The Empire Strikes Back*. You need to be Vader. Make sure you have extension problems (sequels, right?) ready for students as they finish.

**Conclusion**

Many math teachers take act two as their job description. Hit the board, offer students three worked examples and twenty practice problems. As the ALEKS algorithm gets better and Bill Gates throws more gold bricks at Sal Khan and more people flip their classrooms, though, it’s clear to me that *the second act isn’t our job anymore*. Not the biggest part of it, anyway. You are only one of many people your students can access as they look for resources and tools. Going forward, the value you bring to your math classroom increasingly will be tied up in the first and third acts of mathematical storytelling, your ability to *motivate* the second act and then *pay off* on that hard work.

**Related**

- I gave this post a try a year ago.
- Also, Breedeen Murray has a lot of useful things to say about storytelling, though I can’t endorse her enthusiasm for “confusion.”

**2011 Dec 26**: The Three Acts of a (Lousy) Mathematical Story is also on the syllabus.

on 12 May 2011 at 3:18 am1 Jason FountainDan,

I’ve been following your posts for about a year now. As a former middle school math teacher, I think you are right on with your focus on building mathematical stories.

One of my favorite recent books is “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield. He wrote a great little post a few weeks ago about the three act structure in anything we are doing. It’s worth a look: http://www.stevenpressfield.com/2011/04/three-act-structure/

Keep pushing!

on 12 May 2011 at 5:03 am2 MBPNow I’m finding myself confused. I seem to remember you saying that you tell mathematical stories daily, and WCYDWT problems less frequently. But now it seems that you’re identifying good mathematical story telling with WCYDWT problems? Which part am I getting wrong?

I think that this framework easily applies to apply to very non-WCYDWT approaches as well. For instance, if my students know how to solve linear equations in one variable, and then I put any other equation in one variable on the board, I think everyone in the classroom is going to ask the same question: how do we find solutions for the variable? I suppose that the big difference between a question like “How do we find solutions to this equation?” and “Will the basketball go in?” is in how badly kids need the question answered. How hooky is the hook?

At the same time, we shouldn’t underestimate the hookiness of “How do we find solutions to this equation?” In class the other day I did something stupid: I put a rational equation up on the board that turns into a kind of quadratic equation that my ninth graders don’t know how to solve. Once we had that quadratic equation on the board, though, I had to very, very slowly back away from my students. I tried to move on. “Wait, so what are the solutions?” Umm… we haven’t learned it yet. “Is the answer 8?” Well…sort of but remember how many solutions a quadratic equation has. “Oh! So it’s got 2 solutions.” I have no doubt that more of my students would have been engaged in that conversation if it was a more intuitive question (Will the ball go in?). Still, mathematical questions don’t suck.

on 12 May 2011 at 7:19 am3 Damian EastwoodReading your post on Google Reader. The previous post from a different blog was discussing a school in Denmark that is piloting open book exams where “the book” is the full range of online communication tools. It sruck me that the kind of questions being asked would need to very different from traditional “what can you remember”, closed book testing. I was wondering what such an exam paper might look like as I hit the next button to read this post. I think this kind of thinking, and format could be the answer to my question and could be adapted to provides some interesting assessment work.

on 12 May 2011 at 7:39 am4 MichaelDan said: “I’m not saying anyone is going to shell out ten dollars on date night to do this math problem”

Wouldn’t that be something if people DID shell out ten dollars on date night to do a math problem or two; if it is a double feature!

I think I see a new business opportunity for someone.

on 12 May 2011 at 8:48 am5 AlexDan,

Do you see a world where every math teacher is capable of building a curriculum that largely consists of math storytelling/WCYDWT lessons and learning experiences?

Or do you see a world where that curriculum is available to be accessed/purchased?

on 12 May 2011 at 8:49 am6 Dan MeyerThe difference between the mathematical stories we tell daily and #wcydwt is the visual nature of #wcydwt and the different techniques for resolving the first act conflict in the third act. (It’s hard to

showthe answer to a trinomial factoring problem. It’sdifferent, anyway.) Otherwise, they’re largely the same.on 12 May 2011 at 9:12 am7 BreedeenGeez. Called out again by Meyer.

I want to make it clear (and plan to in an upcoming post) that I am not enthusiastic about confusion for confusion’s sake. I value confusion as a part of the learning process. My take on “confusion” aligns rather well with what you’re saying about Act 1 & Act 2. I have not yet written about Act 3–the climax and dénouement.

Unresolved confusion is not productive. Not to mention about as unsatisfying as an unresolved narrative arc [last season of Farscape, anyone?...anyone?].

on 12 May 2011 at 9:12 am8 marySuggested “act 3″ extension for a more advanced math/physics class: add a scoreboard and a buzzer about to go off. You do need to know g=9.8 m/s^2 and have some dimension from the image in that case, but it would give you a second thing to solve for.

on 12 May 2011 at 12:21 pm9 dy/dan » Blog Archive » Teaching WCYDWT: Storytelling[...] May 12: I gave this post another pass a year later. The job of the dramatist is to make the audience wonder what happens next. Not to [...]

on 12 May 2011 at 3:04 pm10 Dan MeyerA mix of the two, mostly. I don’t know if it’s possible for a teacher to teacher from a framework she doesn’t understand. If your understanding of the three acts is so shaky you can’t

createone of these problems, it isn’t going to be simple for you to teach someone else’s.That said, once two teachers share an understanding of this common framework, certainly they should pool their efforts. The same goes for thousands of math teachers on the Internet.

on 12 May 2011 at 3:35 pm11 Paul McNallyHi Dan,

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been inspired…I write curriculum for my district (Cherry Hill NJ) and also create performance assessments for my classes. I created a systems performance assessment for my Algebra class a few years ago where the students perform races in groups of two or three, model there race with a distance vs. time graph and use algebra to determine how much of a head-start the slower runner would need to to tie the faster runner. Then obviously we go back outside and test our hypothesis…but the problem lied in how to get the students to figure out the head start without me showing them first (i.e. the runners’ speed “slope” doesn’t change and the slower runner must end at the same time “point” as the faster runner). That’s where you come into play. I’ve created three videos as a pre-lesson to the performance assessment where there is no sound only me running a 100 foot race and the time on the bottom of the video, my co-worker running the same race with a slower time and then finally me and my coworker finishing the race at the same time but not showing what happened in the beginning of the race. Can’t wait to try it out this year with my students in a few weeks . But I just wanted to say thank you for the inspiration…it was like a light bulb went off and mow I can see so much more potential in my lessons and my labs/performance assessments. Keep it up!!

on 12 May 2011 at 7:28 pm12 Timon PicciniThanks Dan! Once again you have made so many things so clear. I am really hoping that I will be able to incorporate this sort of story telling even a fraction as well as you have done!

I have a question, is this worthwhile to bringing to my staff, even if they are not all math experts? They are great teachers, and would be inspired by this. As part of our technology budget we have all received iPod touches with video, and I thought of introducing them to some anyqs and WCYDWT, so that is not just a glorified google searching device.

I am a newcomer to this whole style of math teaching, so I am curious what you would think? Get a few lessons under my belt first, or just open it up to everyone, and learn from each other?

on 13 May 2011 at 2:48 am13 OwenI have learnt a few things about story telling through images and presentations from Garr Reynolds at Presentation Zen http://www.presentationzen.com/

And thanks to the ideas on this blog, I have started thinking “Is that something mathematical I can take a photo or video of?”

on 13 May 2011 at 11:50 am14 TomGood stuff Dan! I’ve fairly new to teaching and to your blog (found it after seeing your TED video) and I’m hooked. I used storytelling a bit in one of my Algebra classes a couple years ago after talking with an English teacher about how they got students talking about the content, instead of just staring blankly at him. His response was the fact that he got to talk about characters, plot, etc. This got me thinking about storytelling in math.

I didn’t quite do it as you did with the three acts, but used it as an introduction to direct variation and to help the students get the “big ideas” with the concepts. I used the clips from the Matrix and related Neo to the independent variable and Agent Smith with the dependent variable. The dependent variable “reacted” to the independent variable, just as Agent Smith would follow/track Neo. As a follow-up at the end of the unit I gave an assignment where the students could use their own movie analysis relating the characters to content or create their own story.

Again, not quite the same as you’ve been talking about, but the students enjoyed it and if you are looking at the different types of learners, this helps some who aren’t as strong with their computations demonstrate their understanding of the content in another way.

on 13 May 2011 at 12:09 pm15 PwolfPaul McNally brought up something that I’ve been thinking about for about a week or so. It may be more useful to e-mail the guy who made it, but does anyone have a copy of “Do You Know How Slow You Run?” I saw it when Dan used it in a presentation I was watching last week, and when I went to find it on Youtube, it had been taken down.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, a guy in a suit runs the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine in what appears to be a pretty respectable time for a guy in a suit. Then they show the video again, this time spliced in with a real football player, who blows past the guy in the suit. Then they show another clip and they give the guy in a suit a head start, and he still loses by a lot.

I haven’t been able to see the whole thing, so I don’t know if there is a “blow up the Death Star” moment where the guy gets the head start he needs, but man would that be a killer first-day-of-the-year lesson. If I can’t find it, I’ll have to make my own, maybe stealing the tricycle idea (I don’t remember who made that one). But I really want the original.

on 13 May 2011 at 12:55 pm16 Karim@Pwolf: Here’s the link you’re looking for…http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine/09000d5d816b2dca/Rich-Eisen-s-40-yd-dash

This is a really wonderful description of a good lesson flow, and one of the most well thought out and articulated I’ve read. It makes sense given Dan’s background in film (although, the next time around, he might consider using

Major League, which everyone agrees is a cinematic masterpiece).Clearly storytelling makes the learning process more engaging and authentic, especially when combined with multimedia. My only concern is that people interpret this to mean that it’s the

bestor indeedonlyway of teaching, something to which everything else is therefore inferior. I don’t think that Dan is setting WCYDWT-style prompts up as the be-all-end-all, and in fact he’s done a great job of noting its limits and boundaries. Having read the comments, though, I sense that some are eager to develop an entire curriculum around this, which 1) may be infeasible, and 2) may diminish the authenticity which this approach depends on.In terms of the first, not all topics lend themselves to multimedia, and restricting a curriculum to .jpg and .mov unnecessarily filters down the field. Similarly, storytelling itself is limited to situations where…there’s a story: a conflict, a resolution. But say you’re a 6th grade teacher and have to teach PEMDAS, and were thinking of doing a lesson on body-mass index or target heart rates. These aren’t stories, but they’re still very mathematically rich. Also, students walk out of class knowing something about health & wellness, which is valuable in and of itself.

At the same time, we do have to consider how easy this type of lesson is to teach, particularly for a new and inexperienced teacher. Act Two isn’t just an act, but rather a collection of mini-acts, and helping students navigate through quadratics–and ensuring that they cover the standards they need to cover, in the time they need to cover them–can be challenging. Which is to say: the virtue of the storytelling approach is that it’s open-ended. There are huge upsides to this, but potential shortcomings as well.

This isn’t an argument against conflict/plot/resolution types of lessons. Far from it. It’s simply a caution against the illusion of mutual exclusion, and the desire to put everything into the same neat category. Still, for this category, this is easily one of the best descriptions I’ve seen. Awesome.

on 13 May 2011 at 1:24 pm17 dy/dan » Blog Archive » [WCYDWT] Russian Stacking Dolls[...] see how well the storytelling framework holds [...]

on 13 May 2011 at 2:44 pm18 Dan Meyer@

Pwolf, if you’d like a hard copy ofKarim’slink, you can grab that here: http://wcydwt.mrmeyer.com/slowrunner.zip.@

Karim, thanks for weighing in on this one.Concern trolling? Certainly, I did my best to disclaim at the top of the page that this is a framework only for “

certainmathematical tasks.” And so help me if I can’t find a single commenter suggesting what you suggest they’re suggesting. Where are you taking exception, exactly?Agreed to the first that not every good mathematical task comes packaged with a .jpg or a .mov. I disagree, however, that conflict is optional. Learning arises naturally from the resolution of conflict and it’s incumbent on professional math educators to locate the conflict in topics like PEMDAS. PEMDAS, for the record, isn’t even hiding its conflict all that well. Namely, if we don’t have some convention for the order of operations, we will all get different answers for the same expression. That isn’t a great white shark circling a swimmer, but it

isa conflict.(Another example of conflict where you least expect it:

naming points in the Cartesian plane.)Act one is the easiest, particularly when you’re able to download it from someone else. Act three next. (Revealing the answer is easy. The summary discussion of methods is not.) I’m not sure what “mini-act” means, but act two is far and away the hardest of the three.

A master practitioner, in act two, will quickly pre-assess her students’ existing toolset and ask questions that lead to the development of new tools strong enough to resolve the act one conflict. That’s tough.

A novice practitioner, in act two, will lecture. She’ll

giveher students the tools necessary to resolve the conflict, without respect to their existing toolset. That isn’t great teaching, but there is room within this framework to grow from novice to master.Certainly, it’s an ongoing challenge to make this framework accessible to as many teachers as possible without making it meaningless. (In that sense, The rule of least power has been the white whale of my career.) Even if I didn’t have evidence of new teachers applying this framework in their classes, I’d still wonder what’s wrong with a framework that only intermediate and advanced teachers can apply? New teachers are only new for so long.

on 13 May 2011 at 5:34 pm19 KarimConcern trolling, or trolling for concern trolling? :)

I’m not knocking WCYDWT, as I think my initial comment made clear. When I write that my “concern is that people interpret this to mean…”, there’s an implicit [would] in there. I’m not saying that people necessarily “do” create a mutual exclusion in their minds, but simply that they “might.”

(That said, Alex in comment 5 asks, “Do you see a world where every math teacher is capable of building a curriculum that largely consists of math storytelling/WCYDWT lessons?” I don’t know whether this was a question or a solicitation, but I can certainly see people–indeed have met people–who are looking for a simple answer to a difficult question, namely

how do we engage students in math?, find your blog and become convinced that WCYDWT is this answer. Again, I know that you’re not advocating it as such, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t in their enthusiasm interpret it that way).In terms of the role of conflict, we may just fundamentally disagree. I think it’s important and can lead to great learning, but I’m not ready to say that learning without conflict therefore isn’t. I learned about the Declaration of Independence and the Freedom Riders, quadratics and the birth of Impressionism. None of those involved conflict…unless we define “conflict” so broadly that it ceases to mean anything.

WCYDWT uses the world as a prism to explore math: the world serving the math. I don’t imagine you really care about water tanks or Russian dolls, but that you value them insofar as they provide an “in” to mathematics. At their heart, WCYDWT-style lessons seem to me like wonderful puzzles. Puzzles are great. Sudoku is great.

And so is the rest of the newspaper. Which is to say, there’s another side to math, and one that doesn’t always involve an initial conflict: math serving the world. Using PEMDAS to examine target heart rates, or expected value to understand both sides of the healthcare debate. I imagine that Galileo was fascinated by telescopes for telescopes’ sake, but more so that he could see the stars.

World to math. Math to world. We need both, and that’s the point…and one that I’d be sad to see lost in our enthusiasm to codify a new template.

In terms of my “we do have to consider how easy this type of lesson is to teach, particularly for a new and inexperienced teacher” comment, it wasn’t a critique of WCYDWT but simply a recognition of the challenges a first year teacher may encounter in trying to teach it, and the need to make it as easy as possible for him/her to incorporate. As I’ve said before, WCYDWT is great stuff. These prompts are wonderful, and it would be a shame if people

didn’tuse them because they didn’t know how. So let me ask you: do you actually disagree with what I wrote?on 13 May 2011 at 6:17 pm20 KarimBy the way, the Photoshopped answer key (“the ball goes in”)? Genius.

on 14 May 2011 at 1:42 am21 Christopher DanielsonUm Karim? No conflict in the Declaration of Independence? No conflict in the Freedom Riders? Please revise examples and resubmit.

on 14 May 2011 at 3:06 am22 Karim@Chris, you know what I meant. Of course there were conflicts for

them, but were you on the edge of your seat in seventh grade wondering, “How are we going to extricate ourselves from the King?!” Press play. “Phew!”My point is that not every learning experience requires this kind of “oooh I wonder how this is going to turn out” internalization. Are these valuable prompts? No doubt, where they exist. But take the combinatorics lesson on your Sophia site: “How many possible color combinations are there on Nike iD?” There’s a narrative, yes, but no deep conflict*. It’s still a valuable learning exercise, though.

(*Unless we define “conflict” to simply mean “question.” If that’s the case, then yes, I imagine most people would agree that learning first requires a question. But a net that catches everything catches nothing, and I don’t think this broad brush is what Dan intended (unless I misinterpreted)).

Indeed, maybe I did misunderstand. Like @MBP, I understood that WCYDWT-style lessons happened every so often, but weren’t meant to replace the entire curriculum. Some of Dan’s comments seem to reaffirm this. But with the whole “learning requires conflict, where conflict means [Act One],” I’m no longer so sure. @Dan can you clarify, or perhaps expand on your response in comment #5?

on 14 May 2011 at 3:09 am23 Karim(comment #6, I mean)

on 14 May 2011 at 10:41 am24 Dan MeyerIt’s a rather large problem how little our classrooms involve intellectual conflict, how comfortable teachers are to walk to the front of the class, announce the day’s topic, and describe it fully, all without positioning it as the resolution to some previous conflict or the antecedent to some future conflict.

I’m not saying learning arises

exclusivelyfrom conflict. But we developed new mathematical tools to resolve the limitations of the old ones. That’s a conflict. And there are methods for making that conflict deeply felt to our students.“Press play” and all that? Just details. The conventions of narrative run beneath everything. Draw it on a cave wall or shoot it with a Flip — doesn’t matter to me. I don’t know anything about teaching history, for instance, but I feel confident saying that if you can’t evoke the conflict of the Revolution in a way that is real to your students, in a way that you can leverage into learning, you’re probably in the wrong business.

on 14 May 2011 at 12:14 pm25 KarimWell put. Invariably there’s a spectrum of conflict–from the immediate & visceral to the more subtle–and your first paragraph pretty much nails what it

doesn’tlook like.By the way, if I were still teaching I’d use WCYDWT as often as possible, and at a minimum every other Friday. I love it.

on 15 May 2011 at 12:54 pm26 MBPStorytelling is also undervalued at higher levels of instruction as well. Low-level, lesson-level storytelling helps with learning individual topics. But what connects these individual topics? What *are* we learning, anyway, Mr. MBP? What do mathematicians do all day?

We need the higher levels of instruction–units, semesters, and subjects–to include story arcs as well. Each moment in the classroom should feel inevitable, and a necessary step in the larger story. Stories do that.

on 15 May 2011 at 6:29 pm27 Christopher DanielsonKarim:

Point well taken. I agree wholeheartedly that question≠conflict. But wouldn’t it be a better learning experience if there

wereconflict?W/r/t Sophia, you point to something I’ve been struggling with. My Nike combinatorics packet is, of course, ripped off straight from you, Karim (with credit given in the first paragraph). I wrote it quickly and to supplement some class work in my College Algebra class. I use it to tell. If you don’t care already about combinatorics, nothing about that packet is going to make you care.

While Sophia incorporates multimedia, it does so linearly. In that sense, it’s very much like a textbook. Reference Bowen’s question about textbooks here. I’m still playing around with how to incorporate compelling narrative into this new medium. One way is to write in a way that brings students’ half-formed ideas and misconceptions to the forefront, as in my packets on circles and on exterior angles of concave polygons. The conflict arises when these half-formed ideas are pushed to their limits. “You think of a circle as something round, but that’s not good enough. Here’s why.” and “Remember when we said that the sum of measures of the exterior angles of a polygon is 360 degrees because if you were walking around the polygon, you end up facing the way you started? That doesn’t seem to work for a concave polygon, does it?”

Conflict-free teaching ignores the ideas that students bring with them to class. “A circle is the set of all points a common distance from a single points, which is called the center.” and “The sum of the exterior angles of any polygon is 360 degrees, counting left-hand turns as positive and right-hand ones as negative.” It tells without concern to what’s really being heard. We’ve all done it and it creates conflict that teachers are unable to observe, never mind resolve.

Better teaching begins with the ideas students bring with them and uses them to create visible conflict that needs resolution (

cognitive dissonanceis another trendy term for a related idea).on 15 May 2011 at 11:23 pm28 Gary HarperHi Dan

I am a High School Maths teacher in Scotland and have been reading your posts for about 2 months now. I have been trying to tweak my lessons to try some of the stuff you have posted. What editing software did you use for the video of your basketball shot? I am trying a similar thing but can’t find some decent software.

on 16 May 2011 at 5:08 am29 Christopher DanielsonGary:

Answers here:

http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=7689

and

http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=9318

Both were really helpful in my learning.

on 16 May 2011 at 6:00 am30 Dan MeyerMy work here is done.

on 16 May 2011 at 11:18 pm31 Gary HarperThanks very much. Now to get my head round it all!!!

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on 24 May 2011 at 1:55 am34 dy/dan » Blog Archive » Dan Anderson’s Mathematical Story[...] because they make implementation easy. I know what happens in the first, second, and third acts of a mathematical story, so it'd be a simple matter to use Dan Anderson's lesson in the classroom — no lesson plan or [...]

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on 27 Jun 2011 at 4:04 am36 An imaginary conversation | Overthinking my teaching[...] Well, then you give ‘em whatever information they need to solve the problem. And you let them work, or maybe some days you lecture. But the point is, they’re motivated [...]

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on 12 Jul 2011 at 7:11 am39 JamieI didnt realize the way you structured your math problems was in a storytelling format. I took a class on digital storytelling and everyone thought I was nuts, storytelling in math. Reading your explanations of the 3 acts and seeing examples make it much more clear. Beginning, Conflict, Closure.

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on 30 Jul 2011 at 2:00 pm47 Reflections from CAMT 2011: Math as Story « GOD & MATH: Thinking Christianly About Mathematics, Education[...] I am such a big fan of his. The main point of both his talks: a good (read engaging) math problem is like a good story. A good problem grabs your interest (usually with a powerful image), equips you to solve the [...]

on 05 Aug 2011 at 4:44 pm48 edu180atl: john burk 8.5.11 | edu180atl[...] Dan’s ideas for flipping math on its head come from looking at good stories and distilling their essential three acts. [...]

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on 18 Aug 2011 at 11:55 am51 Goals « The Chemist's Classroom[...] set tests. There are a number of issues at work here, and a lot of what I want to change comes from Dan Meyer’s “problem solving” ideas and development. I also have a lot of work to do in designing [...]

on 20 Aug 2011 at 3:56 am52 Candle Burn #WCYDWT « A Recursive Process[...] The structure of this post comes from Dan Meyer's Three Acts of A Mathematical Story. [...]

on 21 Aug 2011 at 7:34 pm53 ChristaI have been teaching for exactly 6 years, I saw your video because I was forced to watch it in my grad class! Already I have sent it out to the entire math team and all of the principals! If I get one more unsatisfactory observation after they watch your video, then they need they I will ask them to teach my math class so that they can model rigor for me after they have their head examined!

Of course, I am being sarcastic! I studied Electrical Engineering and shifted careers obviously. However, I have received about 4 unsats in my career, all due to student behaviors! I have had technology 1/6 years in my classroom, only had an honors class 1/6 years, but I am now in a Learning Technology Masters program and finally this year we will have Nspire Technology in all math classes.

So! I said all of that to say that they better pay attention to your video! All I hear is I can’t do math, I never was good at it, but yet you have the nerve to evaluate me and expect me to control my math class with extra tough math problems, and if I just did that, my kids would be engaged!!!!! Yeah right!

Maybe deep down inside I am hoping that they could get you to come to do a real professional development at our school because this year we are finally going to stop focusing on writing!!!!!!

Thank you,

–

Christa Togans

on 25 Sep 2011 at 7:10 am54 PD session 2: Multimedia extravaganza « Westminster Science[...] For more background on the engagement in 3 acts idea, check out this post: The three acts of a mathematical story. [...]

on 04 Oct 2011 at 3:56 pm55 Real World Math (Dan Meyer and stuff) | Lost In Recursion[...] perhaps. You can read all about Dan’s “three acts of a mathematical story” here, but act one should grab hold of the audience with something truly compelling. I’m all about [...]

on 30 Oct 2011 at 7:07 am56 The 2011 AIMS Sessions | Breakout #1[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 01 Nov 2011 at 6:26 pm57 Inquiry-based mathematics: the posing of a problem is only the beginning of the problem-posing process. | emergent math[...] delivers the problem to the student. New Tech calls this an “entry event”. Dan Meyer calls it “Act 1.” Whatever it’s called, it is intended to ignite student curiosity about [...]

on 05 Nov 2011 at 4:33 am58 A Billion Nickels – 3 Acts « Zero-Knowledge Proofs[...] who support K-9 teachers. Last week, I eavesdropped on two of them as they tried to come up with a 3 Act Math Story in style of Dan Meyer that would apply to division 1 students. This week’s Parks and [...]

on 06 Nov 2011 at 7:19 am59 The most exciting boring thing I do | Mr. V's Class[...] Sounds like quite a job. Here’s why it’ll work. [...]

on 10 Nov 2011 at 10:29 am60 The Lottery « Zero-Knowledge Proofs[...] Lottery” in a math class. Then I began to wonder if a 3773 short story would fit with Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Mathematical Story Telling. Here’s what I would try with this [...]

on 02 Dec 2011 at 10:28 pm61 The 2011 CMC-N Sessions | Resources[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 06 Dec 2011 at 11:38 am62 dy/dan » Blog Archive » CMC-N 2011 Reax[...] together. I was right, but I had no how right I was until we were starting into my explanation of mathematical storytelling. I was showing shots from the first acts of Star Wars, Jaws, and Raiders of the Lost Ark and the [...]

on 09 Dec 2011 at 3:11 pm63 Think Thank Thunk » So, One of my Students is a Pilot:[...] a little more than that; lots of things are fun, but I’d rather shoot for perplexing (thanks Dan), engaging–dare I say–riveting. There’s a reason kids play video games and watch [...]

on 10 Dec 2011 at 9:45 am64 Renee GoularteI was at your presentation at Asilomar (which was great!) and, in fact, was one of the people who started the Darth Vader music in the back. I’ve been thinking how to apply your “hook” idea to lower elementary students, K, 1st, and 2nd particularly, and 4th and 5th also, in ways that will include art-making. Any ideas on that from anyone would be welcome!

on 23 Dec 2011 at 4:48 am65 BradleyDan,

Thank you so much for sharing your Three Acts pedagogy! I actually met you at the 2011 Siemens STEM Institute before you gave your keynote presentation. I was truly inspired by your presentation and have been working with my math department in my middle school.

I wanted to now share with you a Three Acts math problem that I created for my technology students. If you have any suggestions for future Three Acts math problems, I would greatly appreciate it!

Best of your with your success!

Brad

http://the-lands-cape.blogspot.com/2011/12/my-three-act-math-problem.html

on 16 Jan 2012 at 8:32 pm66 Twittter & RSS – My PLN | Just Your Standard Deviation[...] doc of course) of possible #anyqs created by Dan Meyer (the guy your probably saw this about. This post describes the three acts of #anyqs. Here are some blog posts describing more about the idea [...]

on 24 Jan 2012 at 7:21 am67 Dispatches from the Learning Lab: Why I Don’t Always Ask My Question « Research in Practice[...] tension – one I am much more confident is an essential one of our profession – between storytelling and avoidance of theft – I discussed a particular case of this tension in the fourth [...]

on 18 Feb 2012 at 10:36 pm68 The 2012 ITSC Sessions | Session I[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 05 Mar 2012 at 11:30 am69 The 2012 Kent Sessions | Webinar[...] LinkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 06 Mar 2012 at 7:31 pm70 3 Acts – Potatoes « The Roots of the Equation[...] in class (and will repeat tomorrow), and it worked out quite well. So now I want to share, my first 3 Acts [...]

on 16 Mar 2012 at 11:28 am71 The 2012 CSMC Sessions | Plenary[...] LinkThe Three Acts of a (Lousy) Mathematical Story [...]

on 16 Mar 2012 at 2:20 pm72 Storytelling and Teaching | Altering the Course[...] born for them.” As I got deeper into his talk I thought, wow, this has Dan Meyer and his 3 Acts brain-child all over it. Not the joke part. But Dan’s funny too. Think “lesson” [...]

on 19 Mar 2012 at 9:00 am73 dy/dan » Blog Archive » BREAKING: BLOGGER DESIGNS WEBSITE FOR SHARING NICHE CURRICULUM INTEREST[...] call that a first act. There are still two more acts and a lot of work yet to do, but the first act is above and before everything [...]

on 19 Mar 2012 at 5:39 pm74 Looking Deeper at Dan Meyer’s 3 Acts « Teaching as a dynamic activity[...] been following Dan Meyer’s process with his 3 acts for quite a while. I greatly appreciate the public nature in which he develops ideas and there is [...]

on 12 Apr 2012 at 12:05 am75 Stroboscopische foto | Bernard Blogt[...] Bron: Dan Meyer (cc-by) via zijn weblog [...]

on 15 Apr 2012 at 1:29 pm76 101 Questions | mathcoachblog[...] which others have contributed for each item. The pictures and videos are meant to serve as “first acts“, mathematical conversation-starters which lead to problem-solving [...]

on 22 Apr 2012 at 12:31 pm77 JerzyThis metaphor reminded me of your storytelling approach and why kids need a good Act Three:

http://threepanelsoul.com/2012/03/25/on-storytelling/

on 03 May 2012 at 6:30 pm78 The 2012 MCTM Sessions | Workshop[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 07 May 2012 at 9:22 pm79 Tech Ed-dy » Math and PBL ramblings[...] some ways I feel that Dan Meyer’s 3 acts approach to Math problems might be a good model to adopt when trying PBL in the math classroom in [...]

on 08 May 2012 at 7:07 pm80 The 2012 OAME Sessions | Keynote — Word Problems[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 08 May 2012 at 7:09 pm81 The 2012 OAME Sessions | Workshop[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 11 May 2012 at 6:15 am82 A Salute to Dan Meyer – Inspirational Session[...] The Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 22 May 2012 at 6:59 pm83 50 Ways to Wooster - CogDogBlog[...] also illustrated the brilliant work of Dan Meyers in creating his Three Act approaches to math lessons, which could easily be applied to almost any discipline — see his three act resource for a [...]

on 24 May 2012 at 8:09 am84 Great work in math education (through blogs and Star Wars) | Civil Statistician[...] Meyer takes a love of storytelling (compare the narrative of Star Wars to a typical math problem) and sets up some badass perplexing [...]

on 13 Jun 2012 at 3:47 am85 The 2012 TIC Sessions | Workshop[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 21 Jun 2012 at 12:22 pm86 The 2012 MSRI Sessions | Workshop[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 18 Aug 2012 at 8:59 pm87 Reflections: Why “findingEMU?” « findingEMU[...] in math, see its value, know that it has purpose. However, my lessons are not “chock full of 3-Acts,” so it didn’t seem to quite capture the “spirit” of my [...]

on 19 Aug 2012 at 8:53 am88 New Blogger Initiation 1 | Random Teaching Tangents[...] lessons going, I should have time for some problem-based learning in class using resource like 3 Act math (even if I only steal other people’s first acts to use as lesson ‘hooks’ this [...]

on 21 Aug 2012 at 10:32 am89 Finding Unity in the Math Wars | BetterExplained[...] of Khan’s videos. Others might like the polished overviews in MinutePhysics. You might prefer 3-act math stories or modeling [...]

on 25 Aug 2012 at 11:30 pm90 26 Agost « La capsa espiral[...] Un mar de contes Intro to AI Duxlibri Generador exercicis matematiques Breu historia de l'Univers The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

on 28 Aug 2012 at 9:29 am91 On posting learning objectives … « Check Your Work[...] learning target (SWBAT…) on the board—no matter how Hemingway-esque—is akin to skipping to act three, in the Dan Meyer’s sense of the term. [...]

on 08 Sep 2012 at 6:21 am92 Project-Based Learning: Bats and Falcons | Iowa TransformEd[...] all starts with the first act. It has to be so compelling, so unsettling, or so obvious, that a question gets asked from that [...]

on 14 Sep 2012 at 10:33 pm93 Test Post « Public Schools and Pedagogy[...] problem sets are paper-based, which probably limits their engagement potential. In Dan-Meyer-speak, they could use some media-rich“Act 1′s.” (Note: For all I know, Exeter uses [...]

on 18 Sep 2012 at 11:58 pm94 Lesson Tools: Three Act Math | Mr. C's Math Blog[...] This spreadsheet is from Dan Meyer’s excellent math education blog. A description of the Three Act Math task can be found here. [...]

on 28 Sep 2012 at 8:44 pm95 Flipping the Flipped Classroom | Teaching to the Beat of a Different Drummer[...] the classroom in the other direction. First, start with an engaging problem. Look at Dan Meyer’s three act problems for one approach. Don’t spend a lot of time talking at your students from the get go. Have a [...]

on 08 Oct 2012 at 3:51 pm96 Week 6 for Math 5321 – Joe Champion[...] Three Acts [...]

on 22 Oct 2012 at 7:57 am97 Now Playing….”The Locker Problem” | Proud Journey[...] am always blown away by Dan Meyer and his Three Act Math stories. I guess I could say that I was inspired by the Three Act format, though I felt a bit [...]

on 24 Oct 2012 at 6:31 am98 Les compétences en résolution de problèmes et les TIC | RÉCIT FGA 01[...] Note : L’idée de la démarche en 3 temps n’est pas de moi, celle-ci a été développée par Dan Meyer et présentée sur son site web. J’ai ici essentiellement traduit et adapté l’article The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story. [...]

on 10 Nov 2012 at 10:20 am99 Imagination and “3 act” lessons « josh g.’s notes[...] obvious parallel I saw here was the three-act lesson format that Dan Meyer is promoting. At first the mental connection was just the overlap of talk about [...]

on 30 Nov 2012 at 3:39 pm100 Finding The Conflict in Math[...] always, a never-ending hat tip to Dan Meyer for [...]

on 03 Jan 2013 at 1:35 pm101 Basketbola | Prime Factors[...] This isn’t an original idea. [...]

on 12 Jan 2013 at 1:57 pm102 Keynote | The 2013 HCTM Sessions[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 19 Jan 2013 at 11:02 pm103 Engaging and Motivating Students with Technology | lcda's blog[...] From http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=10285 [...]

on 19 Jan 2013 at 11:15 pm104 Engaging students with gripping first acts, videos and games | lcda's blog[...] From http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=10285 [...]

on 23 Jan 2013 at 10:36 pm105 How the Mathtwitterblogosphere is Helping Me Grow | Hilbert's Hotel[...] these past 6 months. Included in this reflection is thinking about how ideas, such as SBG or Dan Meyer’s 3 Acts, compares and contrasts with my own teaching philosophy, and I have only improved through reading [...]

on 30 Jan 2013 at 6:22 am106 Adaptive Science Curriculum | Educator, Learner[...] math makes me want to teach it. If you’re not familiar with his writing and development of Three Act Math, you should read the linked post and go check out his site dedicated to free [...]

on 27 Feb 2013 at 3:00 pm107 Random Problem Idea: Exploding Water Jugs | The Problem Bank[...] their solution, and these are the kinds of discussions that I love. And the best part is that the 3rd Act, if you will, can be easily tested. Each student can pick a container from home, provide [...]

on 05 Mar 2013 at 4:29 pm108 Toblerone Task | Reflections in the Why[...] Anyway… my three-act math task: [...]

on 19 Mar 2013 at 12:04 pm109 Ross Churchley › Blog | Exponential growth in Katamari Damacy[...] math teacher with a bit of time and a PlayStation, I suspect this would make a very interesting 3 act problem for your [...]

on 09 Apr 2013 at 5:57 pm110 JoshuaDan, I attended your workshop last year at the Punahou School in Hawaii. I want to know what the link is to your 3-act activities to start integrating them into my class.

Mahalo,

Josh Lyons

Assets School

on 10 Apr 2013 at 1:40 pm111 Dan MeyerHi Josh, our workshop page was here. The webpage with all my three-act tasks is here. If you’re looking for something else, please let me know.

on 12 Apr 2013 at 5:47 am112 Redefining the Classroom: The AUSL and Chicago Public Schools – From Jen Carey | Leading Change in Changing Times[...] terms of recreating her math classroom, Jennie demonstrates a problem put forward by Dan Meyer: the Three Acts of the Mathematical Story. After watching the video by Mr. Meyer, her students [...]

on 12 Apr 2013 at 6:40 am113 Redefining the Classroom: The AUSL & Chicago Public Schools « Indiana Jen[...] terms of recreating her math classroom, Jennie demonstrates a problem put forward by Dan Meyer: the Three Acts of the Mathematical Story. After watching the video by Mr. Meyer, her students [...]

on 17 Apr 2013 at 10:41 am114 3 Act Math | When Math Happens[...] The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story [...]

on 20 Apr 2013 at 10:59 pm115 Teaching Maths with technology[...] and her colleague Linsey Rose successfully adapted Dan Meyer’s Three Acts for junior classes. Following their lead, I created my own video, using the Reel Director app. My [...]

on 21 Apr 2013 at 8:06 am116 MS Sunday Funday – What Would You Like To Blog About? | I Speak Math[...] could post about success we have had using lessons currently available on the internet, like from Dan Meyer’s 3-acts or [...]

on 29 Apr 2013 at 7:02 pm117 Grading Tests | Informal Math[...] attempted to “3-Act” this problem using the following [...]

on 03 May 2013 at 9:44 am118 Más allá del límite | Profe, ¿es real ese agujero?[...] las “matemáticas en tres actos” (three-act math). Él lo explica muy bien en esta entrada (en inglés), pero voy a intentar explicarlo en nuestro idioma con la ayuda de un ejemplo. [...]

on 10 May 2013 at 3:30 am119 dy/dan » Blog Archive » [3ACTS] Pyramid Of Pennies[...] for understanding: what happens during the first, second, and third acts of a mathematical story? What are your moves? What questions do you ask your [...]

on 16 May 2013 at 9:19 am120 (337) The Old Reader | Gas station without pumps[...] but I think that the stories have to be intrinsic to the science and math, like Dan Meyer’s The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story, not stories about science, which seems to be what both blogs are [...]

on 16 May 2013 at 9:20 am121 Storytelling to close the gender gap? | Gas station without pumps[...] but I think that the stories have to be intrinsic to the science and math, like Dan Meyer’s The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story, not stories about science, which seems to be what both blogs are [...]

on 19 May 2013 at 9:54 am122 Why Students Hate Word Problems | The 2013 Sudbury Sessions[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]

on 19 May 2013 at 6:02 pm123 Finding the Questions in Math: Creative Questions with Dan Meyer | creativiteach[...] the start of creative inquiry, Meyer sees opportunities for problem posing as the first act in a 3-act curriculum strategy that grounds mathematical thinking in real world problems. If you’d like to think more about [...]

on 22 May 2013 at 12:11 pm124 Problem-Based Learning and the Common Core | Common Core Essentials[...] classroom. He explains the overall “lesson design” of 3Acts on this post, “The Three Acts of a Mathematical Story“and has recently started a journey into “how” to teach the acts. His narrative [...]

on 12 Jun 2013 at 7:48 am125 Diving into Three Act Math Movies- Assignment 3 ETAD 879 | Learning Out Loud[...] Conference in May. We were particularly inspired by his ideas around videos in mathematics and Three Act Math Movies. We both really like the powerful learning opportunities that we see within the math movies. [...]

on 12 Jun 2013 at 9:22 am126 Trip – class plan version 1[...] I am trying to set this up as an in-class deal with my lower-level freshmen. I am trying to follow what Dan Meyer set up as a framework here. [...]

on 12 Jun 2013 at 8:19 pm127 Resources for Blended Learning Workshop | Shifting Phases[...] — that’s one of the biggest differences between great and awful. The other is this: use the video to show phenomena, not explanations. Get the students hungry, then let them ask for the instructions and info. [...]

on 13 Jun 2013 at 6:44 am128 Reflection #2, Or, What this Blog Became in its First Year[...] In another post I talked about how a science exploration of water allowed us to read photographs and short informational text closely. I liked this post partly because it turned out so elegantly well (not all lessons do), but partly because it was a simple change up of a lesson structure that I would have used in the past to a structure that plunged right into a mysterious event that we closely observed and wondered about. (Here, I’ve benefited from the work of writer/consultant, Vicki Vinton, the writing and consulting team of Burkins and Yaris, as well as some of the work on question-first lesson design put forth by Dan Meyer in math.) [...]

on 26 Jun 2013 at 8:17 am129 Ticket Roll Elementary Style | Zero-Knowledge Proofs[...] get asked frequently if anyone is compiling 3-Act Math stories in the style of Dan Meyer or learning through problem solving activities specifically for [...]

on 27 Jun 2013 at 2:17 pm130 A Billion Nickels | WNCP Orchestrated Experiences for High School Math[...] This problem solving activity, originally posted on my own blog in this form, encourages students to explore questions they have after watching a parks and recreation video. Depending on where they go with it, they will likely look at volume, mass and capacity. This has become one of my favorite activities. It is presented in Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Math Story style. [...]

on 01 Jul 2013 at 3:54 am131 Three Act Science – Collaboration? | Neil Atkin[...] Dan Meyer’s inspirational @ddmeyer Three Act Maths http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=10285 as a model, we can incorporate multimedia and digital tools to redefine the learning experience. [...]

on 02 Jul 2013 at 8:15 am132 Flip 2.0 | Mr. MathTutor's Blog[...] who is now finishing his doctorate at Stanford in Math Ed, has an amazingly active blog. His 3 Act math lessons, which are growing in number weekly, seem like the new standard in teaching math. Act 1 [...]

on 02 Jul 2013 at 8:29 am133 dy/dan » Blog Archive » Hot Links[...] Atkin is translating the three-act task design structure to science [...]

on 05 Jul 2013 at 9:16 pm134 Script Writing- ETAD 879 Assignment 4 | Learning Out Loud[...] 4 of my Video Design for Learning Class saw my partner and I creating scripts for our Three Act Math Movies. We tried to carefully plan out the sequence of the problems we were trying to create and the [...]

on 08 Jul 2013 at 3:17 pm135 Problem Solving | WNCP Orchestrated Experiences for High School Math[...] Meyer’s approach has gained a lot of traction in the math world. He describes his “Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story” on his blog. For fans of these visual stories, they are being collected and described by [...]

on 12 Jul 2013 at 10:56 am136 http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=10285 | creatingthinkers[...] creatingthinkers It's good to know algorithms, but better to understand them, and how and when to use them. « Mathematics is a performance July 12, 2013 // 0 [...]

on 24 Jul 2013 at 8:06 am137 [Lessons from Game Design] Piggybacking | Beyond the Standard Model[...] wants to count that? They’ll be begging for a generalization. Once again, Dan Meyer is a treasure trove of wonderful ideas in this vein, and I will be talking more about the Three-Act method in later [...]

on 26 Jul 2013 at 11:26 am138 The 2013 3P Love Learning Sessions | Why Students Hate Word Problems[...] linkThe Three Acts of a Mathematical Story [...]