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Let me invite you to check out 101questions, a website I've been building since last fall.

Other websites will let you "like" something or call it a "favorite" or "interesting" or give it a thumbs up or a +1. As a teacher, I don't aspire to any of those things as much I aspire to be perplexing. I want to perplex my students, to put them in a position to wonder a question so intensely they'll commit to the hard work of getting an answer, whether that's through modeling, experimenting, reading, taking notes, or listening to an explanation.

A lot of my most perplexing classroom moments have had two elements in common:

  1. A visual. A picture or a (short) video.
  2. A concise question. One that feels natural. One that people can approach first on a gut level, using their intuition.

Let's 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 else.

It's been difficult for me to know in advance whether or not my first acts will perplex my students. Sometimes they confuse my students. Sometimes the warped lens I have on the world indicates something perplexing but it bores my students. For awhile I inoculated myself against that possibility by tossing the photo out to my Twitter followers and asking them "Any questions?"

Their responses have been extremely helpful, but limited in some ways that 101questions will fix. I'll describe those in more detail in another post.

For now, check it out. Ask some questions. Upload a first act. Wait for the questions (or skips) to roll in. Then figure out how you'll help your students get answers.

25 Responses to “BREAKING: BLOGGER DESIGNS WEBSITE FOR SHARING NICHE CURRICULUM INTEREST”

  1. on 19 Mar 2012 at 9:13 amChris Sears

    What is your goal for the 101qs website?

  2. on 19 Mar 2012 at 9:39 amDebbie

    Ooh, sounds interesting. Good Luck with the new website Dan!

  3. on 19 Mar 2012 at 9:59 amDan Meyer

    @Chris, short-term: to improve on the experience of the #anyqs hashtag on Twitter. That’s already done. Long term: to provide a community with an easy way to share three-act math tasks.

  4. on 19 Mar 2012 at 2:16 pmCorey

    Cool site. How did you build the site? Is there a service you’re using?

  5. on 19 Mar 2012 at 2:45 pmDan Meyer

    @Corey, thanks. I hired a developer on elance.

  6. on 19 Mar 2012 at 3:06 pma different eric

    Well… this is awesome!

  7. on 19 Mar 2012 at 3:31 pmHeather

    Hey Dan, just spent WAY too much time on your site! ;-) Often, I could see the question you wanted me to ask, but I really didn’t feel like asking it. Of course I have Jaded Movie Reviewer Syndrome in that regard, but I’m sure this happens to students as well – ?? Also, it might be a good idea to have a “wtf is happening here?” button b/c some of the ones I skipped were because I couldn’t even tell what the picture was. I guess I could have put that as my question! But just to differentiate from the ones where I truly did click away due to boredom.
    Still, next time I feel like procrastinating, I can explain that I’m helping you, so that’s good!

  8. on 19 Mar 2012 at 6:33 pmMary

    I too just wasted too much time on the site. I agree with Heather, I’d like a WTF button. There were some that I could think of questions, but (especially as a student) I wouldn’t be engaged or perplexed in a good way, but instead…what the heck am I supposed to do here?

  9. on 19 Mar 2012 at 6:46 pmDan Meyer

    Thanks for the feedback, Heather and Mary. If the most perplexing question you have is “WTF is going on here?” I’d recommend clicking, “Skip It, I’m Bored,” which is what I do, anyway. I’m very hesitant to add any extra buttons to the interface, in any case. It’s easy to waste time on the site in large part because of its simplicity. Any extra button will diminish that simplicity by 50%.

  10. on 20 Mar 2012 at 4:39 amLisa

    I just signed up for 101questions and love the idea. But part of my interest is in seeing what other ppl’s questions were. I like that I am not asked twice about the same image, but I would like to be able to go back after the fact and see what others are saying.

  11. on 20 Mar 2012 at 4:41 amDan Meyer

    This is good feedback, Lisa. Every time you ask a question, links will start to stack up beneath the question bar so you can click on them later. Obv. that isn’t clear enough. I’ll figure out how to make that more prominent.

  12. on 20 Mar 2012 at 4:57 amAndrew Stadel

    Hi Dan,
    Congrats on the site going live! I’ve received a huge increase in views and some telling responses. I look forward to seeing the site continue to grow and flourish. I know my students will benefit from this as I test pictures and videos out on 101qs.com first and see if I get that perplexing first question I think is there or something similar. It’s been amazing to see how well a perplexing form of media will spawn discussion in class and lead to relevant learning.
    Do you think tags or a search field might help in case a user was looking for a picture or video related to a specific concept?

  13. on 20 Mar 2012 at 5:54 amDan Meyer
    Andrew: Do you think tags or a search field might help in case a user was looking for a picture or video related to a specific concept?

    Definitely. At the moment, I’m trying to clear the “better than #anyqs on Twitter” bar. Other upgrades will be a little slower coming.

  14. on 20 Mar 2012 at 10:34 amJeremy Bell

    I understand you’re trying to be “perplexing” all the time, but the website could benefit from some narrative about what’s the point of it and why should a person join the site.

  15. on 20 Mar 2012 at 4:00 pmAmy Zimmer

    Cool. How do I take off my dumb comment bc I couldn’t see all the print at first?

    I tried to upload a pic for you on my iPad, not sure how to get tp camera gallery from we space.

    Amy

  16. on 20 Mar 2012 at 7:08 pmPhil

    I just asked about 80 questions, never skipping the I’m Bored button. I was tempted to, but figured a question that related why I was bored or confused might be helpful. Am I mistaken? Will the uploaders get feedback about questions people are asking? For example, I was distracted by the editing/layout of a picture about donut prices/rates (I wanted to know why the donut sign was nearer the muffins) even though I knew what I was “supposed” to ask.

  17. on 20 Mar 2012 at 7:57 pmGreg Schwanbeck

    Am I gonna ruin this thing if I participate as a physics teacher/work from a physics perspective?

  18. on 20 Mar 2012 at 8:31 pmDan Meyer
    Phil: I just asked about 80 questions, never skipping the I’m Bored button. I was tempted to, but figured a question that related why I was bored or confused might be helpful. Am I mistaken?

    Try not to feel like there’s any particular right way to use the site. I’ve set up a light framework and now it’s time to see what people make of it. Just know that whenever you enter anything into the question box and press submit, you are adding to a user’s perplexity score, which elevates that person in rankings, which may not be your intent.

    Greg: Am I gonna ruin this thing if I participate as a physics teacher/work from a physics perspective?

    The only requirement for using the site is a photo or a video and a question. My guess is it’ll be used most heavily by STEM disciplines, but I’m trying to be agnostic about some of these issues right now so we can see how they’re naturally shake out.

  19. on 21 Mar 2012 at 10:32 amDave

    I want to politely differ with the people asking for more features, explanation of the site’s goals, etc. There’s a concept in website usability called “expert review” — the idea is that a person’s voiced opinion about how a website should work is completely useless, because it introduces so many biases. Rather, you have to look at whether users are successful at the task (and then you can work from there to figure out why or why not). If people say they think the website needs an explanation, but the real data shows that they are posting coherent questions that are somewhat in the #anyqs vein, don’t be in a hurry to change things. You’re just as likely to weaken the experience as you are to improve it.

  20. on 21 Mar 2012 at 9:55 pmFawn Nguyen

    Very cool site, Dan, and I actually like how simple and bareboned 101questions is. The picture or video is asking for the FIRST question that comes to mind, so minimal distraction is a good thing. (I had to skip a few, not due to boredom, but I couldn’t see the print and didn’t want to ask a “stupid” question.) I’m sure I’m not the only one who checks out all your 3-acts math tasks and think, “Oh, there should be a library of these tasks and we could share them…” And here you are. Thank you!!

  21. on 22 Mar 2012 at 4:13 amVad tänker du på? | Ellwe.se

    [...] Läs vad Meyer skriver själv om 101qs.com [...]

  22. on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:45 pmDavid Petro

    Nice announcement. I have enjoyed participating on the 101qs site so far. You got a shout out on the Key Curriculum Press site:
    http://blog.keypress.com/2012/03/what-do-you-wonder-real-world-math-problems-are-everywhere/
    Take a look, there is a nice 5 min video from NCTM where the speaker is talking about some of the same things except the concept is “What do you notice?” and “What do you Wonder?”

  23. on 22 Mar 2012 at 2:59 pmDan Meyer
    Fawn: I’m sure I’m not the only one who checks out all your 3-acts math tasks and think, “Oh, there should be a library of these tasks and we could share them…” And here you are. Thank you!!

    Thanks for the feedback. Currently we’re only trading the first act of the tasks but eventually I hope to find a way to get all three acts + sequels on the site, ready for easy download.

  24. on 27 Apr 2012 at 10:46 amJames Cleveland

    Is the functionality on 101qs to look at questions I’ve already asked questions of, even if I didn’t bookmark them? If not, can that be added? I’m looking for a particular photo I know I saw on there but have no good way of finding.

  25. [...] Meyer’s 101questions puts questions front and center in the math classroom. And his three-act math attempts to [...]