I'm dying to see the third act.
Ginny, a participant in my qualifying study at Stanford, on the water tank:
I'm dying of curiosity. Is that anywhere near the right answer?
Can we watch the video to see if he makes it? It's killing me. I gotta know.
All three describe the experience of not knowing the answer to a math problem as something like death. A math problem. How does that happen?
My best guess? You start with a credible document of the world your students live in. That could be an actual water tank in the classroom or a representation of a water tank on video. It has to be credible. Then you document something happening — the tank filling, the fan spinning down, the ball sailing through the air — long enough for a learner to have a sense of what is happening and what might happen next.
That's where you end the document. Then work happens. The work is motivated in part by the student's knowledge that the answer actually exists, that the teacher talks a huge game about math being everywhere and in everything and we're about to put that to a test.
Then you show the answer.
Please watch this video of Ginny watching the answer to the water tank problem. This moment was incidental to my actual research question. I have no way of knowing if Ginny would have experienced the same mixture of suspense, elation, and catharsis reading the answer to the same problem in the back of her textbook. I only know that if you had told me in my first year teaching that suspense, elation, and catharsis were possible reactions to a math problem, as much as I loved math myself, I would have thought you were crazy.
2012 Oct 2. Rachel Kernodle writes about Bean Counting: "… the 4 groups that correctly got the extension with no help from me literally SCREAMED and high-fived each other when I played the answer video …."
2012 Oct 2. Chris Robinson writes about Taco Cart: "More student comments from @ddmeyer 's Taco Cart #3act: I'm losing sleep over the answer, this problem is killing me. Teachers, #3act works. Students made me replay the answer to @ddmeyer's Taco Cart #3act so they could provide play-by-play in the style of a horse racing announcer."