March 19th, 2012 by Dan Meyer
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:
- A visual. A picture or a (short) video.
- 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.