I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Many good points, especially about not using the textbooks. I’m always being asked about what textbook I use, and I have to say, none. Oh, I have one marketing textbook I occasionally use, just because I think I have to, but there is waaaaay too much good stuff just out there, in the world, waiting for me to use. Carrying a camera has become a new thing for me, but I’m getting better at it.

    As for your final shot, of the bridge, looks like one at Mount Hermon, a favorite of mine.

  2. This is bang on. I just sent this off to a group of Math teachers who are exploring assessment, outcomes, the whole sha-bang really.

    As you stated in your first vodcast, you can do things in this medium, you can’t replicate in others. This is the power. But indeed keeping it concise, engaging and meaningful is the challenge. Well done my friend. You’re a rock star.

  3. Yeah, thanks for the recap. I worried I hadn’t literalized the theme of these vodcasts enough in the last episode. What I’m trying to do this summer is present themes and theses which are impossible to fully illustrate without moving pictures.

  4. Incredibly awesome final shot of the bridge. When the camera slides past you and the white lines move into place, that’s some seriously cool action there. Dan, I don’t know what to say. But when I do figure it out, I’ll put something together. These are inspiring and make me want to quit teaching English.

  5. These make me want to quit teaching math. I am enjoying writing, shooting, and editing these to a ridiculous degree, feeling a bit ripped apart by the distance between Job & Hobby.

  6. That’s so sweet. The power of a moving picture is awesome – I’ve had so many times I wished I could pull a pic out of a book and spin it round, doodle about… What software do you use?

  7. Final Cut Pro for basic video/audio editing.

    Adobe Photoshop for the doodles.

    That second-to-last shot is two photos layered on top of each other, animated in Adobe After Effects. Kinda like the second half of this movie here.

  8. Wow. Incredible. I hope that many math departments show this video at before school meetings this year. What great way to start the discussion of how to re-imagine teaching math.

    Watching your video made me feel that we are possibly at the tipping point in math education that we might be able to lift ourselves off the bottom of the barrel in terms of student interest and engagement. I don’t know which subject we can get a head of but I am interested in getting us there.

    A much needed pick me up.



  9. BRAVO, Dan! Here’s the e-mail I just sent to the other faculty members in my department:

    I told you I’d be relentless in sharing my learning…

    Dan Meyer is the COOLEST and savviest teacher I’ve never met. His blog is out-of-this-world good. And, his latest blog post includes a video that demonstrates technology integration better than anything I’ve ever seen. So, here’s Dan explaining Teaching 2.0 (my wording, not his):…”

    [followed by a link to the post]

  10. Thanks for a great explanation of engaging teaching strategies! I’m going to pass this along to all the teachers I know. Great post!

  11. I’d say it looks like you just found your next job.

    This does a great job — really, an amazing job — illustrating what many people only talk about.

    One question/observation: You highlight the projector as your means of delivery. Why limit yourself to that? Once you’re talking digital, you have a much broader range of delivery and discussion options.

    Don’t tether yourself to a projector :) Live free!

    Seriously, this is a great video. I can barely make it through most of the videos I see in the course of a day; I watched this one three times, and will likely return to it later in the day.



  12. Dan
    You are an inspiration to those of us who are trying to make math authentic and have the kids transfer the skills they have to the real world. Keep up the great work.

    And Bill is wrong DO NOT go with the stache!!

  13. @Bill

    My blog sez 5,000 comments have flown through this site since we all first met and, I swear, nowadays, I’ll type stuff in a draft post (or a draft screenplay, in this case) and I’ll know exactly where someone’s gonna box my ears. The only question is who.

    Anyway, intentionally playing dumb here, what would you add to the “paper, voice, projector” trichotomy I set up back there? Playing less dumb, the limiting factor in digital delivery is my students’ computing profile, which is terrible, and nothing like the digital immigration officials would have me believe.

  14. Doug Cochran

    June 25, 2008 - 3:55 pm -


    I went through the exact same epiphany and use the projector almost everyday. I also have the remote which makes the projector a management tool and worth every penny b/c you can circulate more freely.

    Gone are the days when you turn your back to write on the board, the same notes daily. Putting cool pictures up for discussion good questions are key.

    I haven’t utilized video enough, but i’m gaining.


  15. Hello, Dan,

    RE: “I’ll know exactly where someone’s gonna box my ears. The only question is who.”

    For the record, I was speaking in all sincerity — it’s a great look — kind of like Hanson reaching puberty :)

    Glad to be predictable, and to rise to the (generously proferred) bait. Feel free to respond with old/bald jokes.

    RE: “what would you add to the “paper, voice, projector” trichotomy”

    A mobile-friendly newsletter subscription — select the key graphics from a lesson, and the lead questions — make those available for signup — many cell phones can accept messages via email — 1112223333@cellplangateway.com — wikipedia has a pretty good breakdown of these numbers.

    Alternately, grab a site with a mobile-friendly theme that can be browsed with a mobile device. Drupal has mobile friendly themes, and I suspect WordPress does as well.

    And once your lessons/content is online, it can be access by a good old-fashioned computer.

    You’re already including an iPod friendly format, which is the other element I would suggest.

    You’re not going for 100% adoption here — no system in the world has 100% adoption — but by leveraging the ability of digital media to fit into multiple distribution channels, you are creating multiple points of entry for your students — and as I see it, multiple points of entry, using hardware they are already carrying, creates learning opportunities.

    RE: “the limiting factor in digital delivery is my students’ computing profile, which is terrible, and nothing like the digital immigration officials would have me believe.”

    Absolutely. While there are stunning exceptions, this corresponds with my experience as well.

  16. I have to throw in my comments supporting the brilliance of these videos. I watch them once (at least) just for the enjoyment of them. Then again to actually think about the theme and teaching.

    One of the things that makes you stand out as a teacher is your focus and observation. You notice ways to tie math into everything you see. That’s why a camera and a projector can be so powerful in your room. A projector is good in other rooms, but won’t be as strong a tool as it is in your room unless teachers are as aware of their subject and the world around them.

    Reading your blog, and now watching these videos, push me to do a better job using my projector. It’s inspiring.

  17. Dan –

    You need to start another Vimeo channel where you take those of us who are interested “behind the scenes” with how you make these vids. As has been noted, the content is outstanding, but I’d like to see how the Final Cut Ninja puts out the finished product.

  18. This is wonderful! Your production is better than some pros I know. I envision you finding a way to share your talent with more than just 100 kids a year.

    Not to brag, but your parabola-bridge reminded me of a precalc project my students did this year. They were invited to look for functions around them, take a picture, then we superimposed functions over the pictures in sketchpad.


    Only 10 photos are public (even though they all swear they made them public…flickr often acts unexpectedly…trying picasa web albums next year), but if you’d like to see the other 55, just send a request to join the group.

  19. @Scott, kinda tied up with the remaining eight episodes at the moment, but I wouldn’t mind running down some of the process come September, particularly if you can help me narrow it down some. The moving pictures thingie at the end. Got it. What else?

    @Kate, strong work there.

    @everyoneelse, thanks for the props and pushback. If you have any inclination to del.icio.us, diigo, link, or reblog this, y’know, don’t hesitate. I mean, if you were waiting for permission, you have it.

  20. Hi Dan,

    Didn’t see a trackback but wanted to let you know: a) I think your videos are hot! And because they help me advance my conversations with doctoral students in education I embedded them on my site. They’ll rest under Work Life/Doctoral mentoring.

    Thanks for doing such great work.

  21. Dang. I definitely set the wrong tone & bar with this one. Y’all are gonna hate next week’s episode on standardized test prep.

  22. Dan, do you have any comments about the current state of the video projector market? Which one do you use in class? Given no constraints, which one would you use? Thanks!

  23. Thanks for that Dan, it’s good, it helped. A few questions:

    – How often do you find yourself using your video-editing skills in class?

    – How difficult do you think they are to learn at the moment?

    – How easy do you think this kind of thing could become in the future… within reach of your ‘common’ teacher, or are custom-made videos always going to be the preserve of a few?

  24. @Michael, the three things you need in a projector are lumens, lumens, lumens. I have used two, one which required a dark classroom and one which didn’t. Resolution is great. Portability is great. Lumens are essential. Past that you’re on your own.

    @Alex, I rarely use video in class, except for editing pre-existing clips and a one-time project.

    Re: “Is this within reach of your ‘common’ teacher?”

    I know I’m supposed to say “yes” here ’cause Web 2.0 is all democratic and what-not but I can’t. Your question deserves a post but, until then, consider On Vid Snacks and its follow-up Amateurs and Experts.

    Or we can settle it up quick here, sufficing it to say that the tools for filmmaking are more expensive and the requisite skills several orders harder than those for blogging.

    I wish it weren’t so. I’m trying to wrap my head around a good entry point for your average classroom teacher with ambitions for videomaking but it’s complicated.

  25. “Is this w/in reach of the common teacher?”


    This is not the work of a ‘common’ teacher.

    It’s like that moment when I asked a professor, ‘Hey, do you think anyone can write a work like Ulysses?’

    Or when I listened to Rush for the first time and asked, ‘Hey, do you think anyone can drum like that guy?’

    Or after I…

    Oh, you get the point.

    Innate skill + practice/time = results

    Good stuff, Dan

  26. Doug Cochran

    June 26, 2008 - 5:58 pm -

    I think increasingly w/ more available technology and its high rate of effectiveness (engagement/relevance) it will become more and more the norm. And younger people especially students are so tech savvy that in 10 years more and more new teachers will be utilizing it.

    Dan is a maestro though, I teach history but i’ve showed all our math teachers the site and they are all blown away. And the reality is, it is all a one time investment in a lot of time that can be used and re-used. Its completely satisfying when lessons like that work and get through to the kids.

  27. Doug Cochran

    June 26, 2008 - 6:20 pm -

    Also, all the practical applications of math/video is slowly making me want to go to the dark side and become a math teacher.

    Any thoughts on integrating the video/pics into the history curriculum?

  28. Dan –

    I’d like to see something along the lines of your series on presentations from way back — perhaps just starting with your workflow. From concept and storyboarding, to doing the actual shooting, to putting it all together.

    If you’re so inclined, of course…

  29. I still remember a quote from Leigh Blackall (an educator in a totally different time and sphere as you in terms of demographics, educational philosophical leanings but with other uncanny similarities) that it is great that we have educators like yourself who are willing to push and break the boundaries of what is expected in teaching and learning. By pushing the boundaries, it gives us mere mortals more room to move.

  30. Late to the show (although that gives me time to peruse the comments, nodding my head up and down a great deal with each of their feedback/compliments).

    Love the final shot, just as Todd (5) stated. Seriously smooth slide from over your shoulder.

    Also deeply respect this comment you made, Dan: feeling a bit ripped apart by the distance between Job & Hobby. Managing that distance (so to speak) is perhaps what will be a significant part of your gift back to this larger community of folks learning by every one of your video breadcrumb trails.

    Also believe that Scott E. (20) is saying something many of us can agree with re: a behind-the-scenes Vimeo channel. I’m about ready to dive into digital storytelling/filmmaking with a colleague (who gets the editing side of things, while I run the English class side of the game) at school this fall. We just installed a ceiling projector that rocks even with all the lights on and the windows wide open. Every teaser you toss out there will be major mind-candy for me this summer and beyond. Thanks in advance, fella!

    Good on Ken (32) for pointing out the elephant in the room. YouTube/Vimeo is democratic. Talent/vision is not. Anyone can upload. Dan, on the other hand, shows that only a few can take concept, vision, and execution into the editing ‘studio’ and put out something that inspires, even when it ends with a parabolic punchline. While education in general and Web 2.0 for the most part proclaims this a party that embraces all, talent wins out in the end. Period. Dan is a podium kind of guy. I’m comfy with that. My classroom vids will be stick figure in comparison, but I’m good/cozy with that. On the other hand, I expect Dan to be Robert Redford with eyes on the homerun fence, even if the blogosphere draws blood on occasion along the way.

    Oh, and thinking that Scott E (36) has a good point re: prezo workflow and process behind the scene vids when time allows on your end after the thematic summer episodes are in the bag.

    While you’re swimming in compliments, happy to add my drop in the bucket. Good stuff. Now, if only I can get my stick figures to re-form into near-claymation ‘expertise’ thanks to your vid design breadcrumbs, I’ll be a happy classroom teacher this fall.

  31. Thanks for your thoughts, Christian. I figured it was only a matter of time before you chimed in on what seemed like a good reprise of our debate on Amateurs & Experts.

    I’m at a loss, though. I only know my comments above to Alex felt insufficient and unsatisfying.

    One of Doug Cochran’s comments helped me fill in the gap:

    And younger people especially students are so tech savvy that in 10 years more and more new teachers will be utilizing it.

    Problem is: the hurdle here isn’t technical. I can show you how to compose a shot, upload video, and perform basic edits (roll, slip, etc.) in an hour. Now what?

    It’s a literacy hurdle. Do you know how to speak film? How to layer video over audio to promote or complicate a point?

    I worry about this. The edtechnoblogosphere fusses over the technical, on putting the tool in as many hands (young and old) as it can, at the expense of literacies which are – I swear – as old as the written word.

    It’s easy to complain that your district firewall blocks access to JumpCut (a technical feat), harder to teach someone to use it (a feat of literacy). Easy to faithfully reproduce one of Andrew Kramer’s tutorials (technique) than to use it in service of an original thesis (literacy).

    Basically, I feel a deep burden for whatever behind-the-scenes, how-to series emerges from these vodcast. I’d appreciate direction from anyone reading.

  32. Yes, a good reprise, Dan. Me more as a learner and fan this time around, however.

    As for your thoughts about your previous response to Alex above, in some ways I think what you said needs to be said. Talent is talent, or at least vision is vision. Tools are on every shelf but few of us can build the elegantly designed and timeless abode, no? But I also grasp what you’re wrestling with in terms of your comment being unresolved. Your last comment above seems to have done real justice to what you had meant to say beyond the first swing. And I agree once again.

    Cheaply paraphrasing your own words above, Dan, is that the deep burden you spoke about above re: any proposed/future how-to/behind-the-scenes series that may evolve is…

    …less about technique, tools, etc…

    …and much more about design/storytelling.

    With that said, the ‘story’ of your video ‘process’ — a thinking aloud or barnappie process made transparent, perhaps — may be the great gift you can offer others.

    As you said, it is about literacies.

    That means telling stories. Camp fires and all. And sometimes stories are messy and in-process and unresolved, as much as they can be tightly edited and carefully sewn together and delightfully transitioned scene to scene.

    BTW, the “do you know how to speak film?” Q you posed above was one of the many gems in your follow-up comment.

    I loved — a few years back — teaching architecture, design, & planning to urban high school kids. I never imagined that 9of10would pursue those as formal fields in their futures, but I did believe that every one of them could learn to think, see, speak, problem solve, and imagine like a designer…no matter the field or life path they entered.

    Same with your vids/lessons, Dan. Help all of us think/see/feel/speak the language of film (et al), and the rest will take over in ways none of us can imagine.



    …but I’d still love to get some shotting/editing tutorials from you behind the scenes so I don’t look like such an a**clown to my kiddos this coming fall when I start spinning my D.I.Y. film reel as the classroom lights begin to dim.

    Can I put you on retainer via Skype or cell?

  33. Dan-
    Why do you feel this burden? I think what you do is tremendously valuable and there is a group of new teachers out there who need to see this stuff.

    I do think there is a tremendous hurdle to climb, but it seems to me that Vodcasting is like Powerpoint circa 1999. People ran into trouble when they put too much text on a slide and used bright color just for colors sake. The best practices you outlined for powerpoint in a previous post were very helpful to a lot of people and I think most helpful for me would be your description of the experiences with this new medium. What things worked really well for you? What was super time consuming and really sucked?

    I’ve read a ton of teaching books, just hoping for a few “tricks,” A time saving device, a different way to start class, a new way of doing something. And the vodcasting is the same thing. If it can improve the 40 min I have with students i’m on board and willing to put in the time.

    For me I would love to be able to have students use video in the class for certain units, and when a few kids come up with some very memorable and creative ways to remember the causes of the great depression or some such, I can re-use it in following years. I use video clips a ton and good ones resonate like crazy with students.

    From my experience with story telling I would say to anyone for guidelines, shoot for relevance and engagement in all things, as much as you can. Kids in my class remember the ridiculous anecdotes more than anything.

  34. Really enjoyed this. It’s amazing how much more is going on in education than in the youth sector here in the Uk in terms of how to’s and reflections on how to use new tech to make more interesting discussions etc. Thanks for the ideas.

  35. Dan, I don’t know where to begin, but let me start with this: You’ve got it goin’ on!

    I plan to present your movie to my high school staff who over-use those poorly designed presentations you illustrated. I hope to get them thinking about the well chosen image instead of all that text, etc.

    Your production values were excellent! After reading how you did it, FinalCut Pro, Photoshop, AferEffects, I’m not surprised. You have some monster visual skills.

    Thanks for inspiring this technology integration specialist!