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Pick A Point

Here’s my favorite moment from a workshop in Spokane last week:

It’s about the quickest and most concise illustration I can offer of Guershon Harel’s necessity principle. The moment of need is brief, but really hard to miss. It sounds a lot like laughter.

2014 Feb 19. Christine Lenghaus adapts the interaction for naming angles:

I drew a large triangle and then lots of various sized ones inside it and asked the students to pick an acute angle. I asked a student to describe the one they were thinking about and then another student to come up and mark it! This lead to discussion on how best to label so that we both agree on which angle we were talking about. Gold!

12 Responses to “Pick A Point”

  1. on 12 Feb 2014 at 11:13 amClara

    Wow. Now I just have to find these moments in the mundane and exploit them. Without any comment. I have students who would respond: why didn’t you put the points on there in the first place! Thank you!

  2. on 12 Feb 2014 at 11:32 amWilliam Carey

    Another thing this beautifully highlights is that math is fundamentally about communication. We name points so we can talk about them, either with other people or with ourselves.

  3. on 12 Feb 2014 at 10:39 pmJeff Naslund

    Thanks for the intellectual perturbation!

  4. on 13 Feb 2014 at 5:10 pmMike Caulfield


  5. on 13 Feb 2014 at 8:00 pmCarlo

    Awesome!! What program did you use to make this?

  6. on 13 Feb 2014 at 8:33 pmDan Meyer

    Just Keynote for the two slides in class.

    I made this video using Final Cut Pro.

  7. on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:12 amAndrew Stadel

    I think you’re also creating a need for communication between students and for them to be as descriptive as possible while keeping each other accountable.
    Great design.

  8. on 17 Feb 2014 at 8:19 pmTom

    With more time, it might be fun to name them by numbers first.

  9. on 19 Feb 2014 at 10:24 amJeff

    Love the idea! I hated teaching this in geometry. One idea I would try out too: I have worked with students on developing mathematical basics/tools to solve other math problems. Instead of just picking a point and describing it as the end goal, what if you had them work on picking 2 points to put a line through (so that naming points is a mathematical necessity)? Then they would have to describe 2 points…almost battleship style? It could also lead into similar x-y coordinate plane activities too.

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  11. on 25 Feb 2014 at 6:18 pmSolid Gold | Five Twelve Thirteen

    […] This post of Dan Meyer’s on the importance of intellectual need.  […]

  12. […] have read and watched Dan Meyer talk about providing students an opportunity to recognize a need for labeling, a need for organizing by […]

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