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. I’m wondering how many teachers will truly hear the nudge, nudge honesty check re: class parties and study halls you made in the opening minute.

    Bravo for that alone!


    [question to self: Did that Dan Meyer fella cleverly sneak a 'fiancee' cameo into the vid only seconds before the close? ]


    Speaking of time and teaching and new media wunderlust…

    …what is the over/under on time investment in terms of how teaching used to be done back in the mimeograph days vs. what it would take interested teacher to replicate the work of a guy like Dan in creating a video of this ilk for his/her own students for an average class session, regardless of subject or lesson?

  2. I second the kudos for the subtle nudge on parties/study hall. I wish my elementary school’s PTA would feel it.

    As the principal, I am especially thankful for these videos from Dan. I’ve got lots of ideas that I want to share and these are percolating with the added spice of Dan’s discussion. I think one of the bigger challenges is going to be finding effective video for the adult learning. My former days as a classroom teacher have not forgotten poorly run staff meetings or professional development as I am now responsible for those in my building. My challenge now is a less concrete curriculum to drive my instructional decisions.

    The smile at 1:32 makes me think yes.

  3. Yep. Just snuck her in there.

    Re Christian: “what it would take interested teacher to replicate the work of a guy like Dan in creating a video of this ilk for his/her own students for an average class session”

    You mean, like, playing a video of yourself in class? I mean, I must be missing something ’cause that doesn’t really utilize either the setting or medium. If I were talking with a crowd of teachers about what teaching does to your personal life, I’d ask the questions Socratically (the one from yesterday’s episode preview) and then play a couple of clips from this video (Collateral, Good Will Hunting, that hysterical clip where I sniff the deoderant – oh man) but I wouldn’t play a video of myself narrating. Maybe redundant is the word I’m looking for. Maybe I’ve misunderstood the question.

    Re Jason: “My challenge now is a less concrete curriculum to drive my instructional decisions.”

    This is a good motto.

  4. Nice way to remind all of us that we get a lot more than we give — if we are paying attention.

    (And nice reminder about students’ time. It is one of the hardest things for teachers to learn… and one of the most valuable.)

  5. When I was doing my teacher observations, the honors geometry class had a surprise party for their teacher. They had it set-up so another teacher distracted him for the few minutes it took to decorate the room, pull out cake, and distribute hats. (Briefly ignoring the assignment given before he stepped out.) Teacher came back in, had about a minute of fun, and then got everyone right back on task without killing the mood.

    Classroom management that I aspire to. Otherwise, I’ll nix the parties. And I don’t even want to know about impromptu study halls.

    One of my weaknesses this year was filling up the dead time when we completed the lesson. Those days when you have 3 extra minutes. Or even finding the proper activity for students who got done with the assignment first. Who has effective ideas for those moments?

  6. Sarah – How does this relate to what we did yesterday/last week/last month? Can you prove your answer? Is there another way to get the same answer? Can you extend the pattern/rule/procedure/whatever to the general case? Can you make up a similar problem? Can you make a up a problem that involves what you just did but includes ____ idea? I flipped a coin 20 times last night and 14 times heads came up. Was it a fair coin? …

  7. See it sounds so much easier when I hear ya’ll say it. The summer prep will include a couple of prompts to get me in the habit. (Groans at the realization that I just assigned myself more homework.)

  8. Things to thank teaching for-

    Time management- every minute is important, and how to get the most out of each one.

    The importance of making something relevant to an audience. Why should this group/person care about what I am saying?

    How to deal with massive amounts of Paperwork.

    Also the understanding that if you want to change something, you can’t really reach and change everything at once. It has to be small increments. Our school tried to change the, giving AP and science classes 60 min instead of 40. It flopped b/c it was going to affect too many people. People are skeptical of change, even when it could be good for them.

  9. The end was nice. Edumonk, with just the right tinge of street-wise hoodie-pull, walks off into the forest. Cut shot. (Should have been a fade, though.)

    Sorry, were you saying something about teaching in there, too? :)

    Enlighten us laypeople with what hard and software you’re creating these with, would you?

  10. Not expecting a teacher to show a vid of his/herself narrating the same lesson or questions to the class that could be done without the video.

    No. That goes without saying. Silly use of time and technology.

    On the other hand, many of us are talking about the time it takes for you to create such a video because you’ve also been talking about better ‘design’ from way back when, and one assumes that content of this video aside that you’re also hoping that teachers might make better videos, for one.

    To that, I asked my previous question…as it pertained to the ‘time’ issue in this episode.

    Not a challenge to you, but a rhetorical question to all. And one for me to learn from as well, since I’m trying to up the ante a bit on what I do for my kids in terms of editing together useful video segments to highlight key thematic elements as it pertains to the literature we’ll study. Movies related to Joseph Campbell’s hero archetype, for one.

    Beyond that, good to see your gal pop into the vid. Is she ready for the full-on dy/dan effect to wisk her away to edu-fame-n-fortune? Or did she just think you were test-driving the zoom/record features for the rehearsal dinner?

  11. @Dina: I sneak time on a pretty nice G5 PowerMac at the facility where I used to edit video. I use a Canon GL2 (ibid). Both are nicer than I could afford on my own. I used a Canon point-and-shoot for a lot of the walkin’ around scenes (grocery, driving, etc.).

    Software is where this thing gets really accessible with Final Cut Pro for the brute editing and Adobe After Effects for anything fun. Both have outrageously good education pricing.

    To rip clips from Collateral (awesome) and Good Will Hunting (bleh) I think I used Netflix (not free) and Handbrake (free).

    @Christian: I kinda conned her into it unaware. Nice of her to manage a smile for me.

    I reiterate my point that this is all really, really hard. And time-consuming, to the tune of fourteen hours in the case of the seventh episode (forthcoming).

    Stepping back a bit, away from AfterEffects and the really fancy stuff. The real basic power of video, the place where it has both paper and podcast whomped, is that it can juxtapose image and audio in some creepy, clever ways, either to reiterate and reinforce a point. Or to contradict it and muddy it.

    Just one example to help me piece this together.


    There I am onscreen, my usual talking head. “So my kids and I have been learning a lot together lately,” Dan says.

    We cut to a scene from Dan’s classroom with Dan’s kids stacking a pyramid of desks behind him while he natters on at the blackboard totally unaware.

    In voiceover here, Dan says, “I really think we’re starting to connect.”


    That’s dramatic irony, one of a hundred ways you can make image and audio dialogue with each other.

    My only advice would be to forget shooting narratives, or at least wait a long, long time. There is so much to talk about, so much you can do with a fixed tripod, before you open that box.

    My two pennies.

  12. A couple of housekeeping items before I respond with more deliberate energy to the above comment, Dan:

    1. Congrats on managing to seamlessly use “awesomely” within your narration. Not every day that a fella can get away with such post-John Hughes video youth-speak and still keep the literal/serious/overly-direct viewers eager to take notes. Unless, of course, that was stated ironically to keep the cheap seats guessin’. But we’ll get to the issue of irony (dramatic and otherwise) later…

    2. Somehow keeping a rotation of Arctic Monkeys song deck nuggets spinning in the background as I type my dy/dan comment keeps my little corner of the world safely remaining on its axis. I’m not sure if that’s a matter of mathematics or metaphor or overly-done connective tissue. I’m willing to sell my soul to the highest bidder until the school year steals me back. Since the Radiohead lyrics (to video images ratio) you were just asked to defend in an earlier comment thread had little to nothing to do with the visual storyline, guess that we can all shrug out shoulders with a soft grin and keep on keepin’ on.

    3. At 1:31/1:32 of “thank you, teaching”, your gal smiles. Since historians and zeitgeist-pants wearin’ social commentators will have decades to sort through the true heart of her non-verbal message to you:

    (a) aw, dan is so cute I could marry the fella
    b) I am not falling for that “the camera ain’t on” game of his ever again!
    c) can he read my mind?, or
    d) there is no way he’s gonna pawn that blood orange fruity caffeine cocktail on me; dan’s readership is gonna have to deal with that truth in a soft drink sort of way!

    I’ll remain content to stick to the literals (and tangential lovelies) of your specific comment response.

    Here goes…


    I’m reminded of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s seminal work, Flow, that gets to the heart of time:work issues, namely that folks who enter a “flow state” happily lose track of time with zero regrets after the fact. This keeps coming to mind when I see the work you put out throughout Videoland, simultaneously trying to measure the results against the assumed/declared time:work graph with regards to anyone trying to echo the same activity.

    You’ve done good service to the reality check of how much time it takes to put together a video like this (as opposed to a similarly messaged written blog post).

    Anyone who has just edited a few photos before uploading to their Costco photo account knows that good ideas often get backslapped by the time fairy in tiny projects like that, let alone when putting some serious AdobeEffects narrative lovespin on the proposal. Take it up a notch and do this day after day? Well, that’s a healthy amount of time investment.

    And only the truly insane or Beowulfiian strong should apply.

    I, for one, am not convinced that a neatly organized time:work graph even comes close to doing justice to what is really happening over there in the dy/av studios (or Starbucks chair/table set).

    First, skill and agility kinda matters. Really! The more talented you are on the keyboard, the more dynamic the editing/production value is gonna be. Same with dexterity and speed, esp. when it comes to trying out a few beta versions of various scenes and transitions, titles, sound overlays. Your recent post showing the magazine layout effort speaks to that better than I can here. [note: did I just confirm dy/dan’s efforts to articulate why some things are better in video than blog typing? man, do I get a piece of the action for that? or at least a i follow @ddmeyer t-shirt for my troubles?]

    Second, when the passion meter is rockin’, don’t come a knockin’. In other words, you’ve got nutty passion for this sort of thing, Dan, (and I’m not even calibrating the future career options meter in my formula)…which means that you’ll work longer, harder, and with less eyelid blinking in the process. Mere mortals trying to gauge how much time it’ll take them to conceive, storyboard, rough draft film, edit, produce, and release a similar effort gotta admit that memorizing one’s neatly copied Spanish verbs in class is a far cry from rollin’ with the kindergarten homeboys on the playground where deep immersion language use has a funny way of becoming embraced/internalized in a way that extends far beyond the what can be done by following straight-forward directions alone.

    Third — and my vote for most vital differentiator at the end of the day — you simply see and think in the visual ‘language’ of film. NO shortcuts there, are there? Nope. Nada. And it is this last part that can only be partially/decently taught or mentored, ’cause ultimately it feeds on itself when it matters most. Until your viewers (me included, so not to come off as too cocky) really begin to see and think through the visual ‘language’ of film, any discussions will continue to tread water in the land of one-off copy cats or “its about the tool and widget, I tell ya!” debates.

    Or, gosh forbid, remain relegated to the hey, ma, look at my UStream! project. Oy.


    Ah, I’m digging what you said (yet again) re: the “power of video”:

    “The real basic power of video, the place where it has both paper and podcast whomped, is that it can juxtapose image and audio in some creepy, clever ways, either to reiterate and reinforce a point. Or to contradict it and muddy it.”


    And there is a reason why we human being types continue to be drawn to all of the multifaceted realms of the spoken story, the printed story, the graphic novel’d story, and the filmed story in ways that can only be described as a Venn diagram of needs.

    Our brains are hard-wired for stories. Some narratives demand different game. But the good ones work however they are played. ‘cept if your audience is eatin’ popcorn in 2 min life chunks rather than a bon-a-fied reader type.

    Dramatic irony exists and works solidly in literature (usually only wielded well by a few authors, however), but it manages to work its magic even better in film. I agree with you. Readers have a hard time with the wink, wink; nudge, nudge side of the written word, but even a popcorn drunk movie goer will get it when the actors and editors work their magic decently.


    You said it well [note: although I’d drop the “ue” from the word “dialog” so that the spell checkin’ elves leave you alone — wink]:

    “…you can make image and audio dialogue with each other.”

    Dialog, indeed!


    Wise advice re: pushing the pause button on one’s achin’ desire to film/edit/publish narrative-lined film/vids. Certainly takes more time. But so does anything truly worthwhile.

    Truth be told (and not even worrying about the 3 factors I laid out above re: why you do this so well (and crush the veracity of the time:work graph in the process), here is the real reason why narratives aren’t really worth most folks’ time:

    People seem soo gosh-darn giddy to watch paint dry if its done via UStream or Mogolus or in a YouTube upload.

    Narrative is almost beside the point.

    Day in and day out we’re passionately told about some edu-conference blogging channel jolly roger flag waving the joys of UPeeAStreamofWasteContent, a true strawman for showing what is really possible, what really matters.

    Man, seems like history has a way of repeating itself even in the epic-speedy waters of 2.0-ish-ness.

    Keeps me wondering if this UStreamLovemonia is similar to the wave of PodCastFever that swept through the edu-blogosphere a year or two ago. That was until the hysteria died down a bit when everyone finally realized, hey, wait! 30 minutes of long, boring, unedited talking-talky-talk via a oh-my podcast is actually worse than hearing it live, where at least I get a bit of eye contact thrown in to keep me awake!, which allowed them to stop drinking from the daily PodCastKoolAid as easily as they had when the Technorati-link lights were flashing like crazy.

    Personally, I love the advice you gave about narrative work, but I don’t think it really matters. As long as folks can just hit record, save, upload, and embed, narrative is gonna be like your summer camp buddy’s girlfriend who lives up in the Niagra Falls region: delightfully possible but most likely not a reality.

    Me, my teaching salary demands that I dive into the narrative deep end, even if my AdobeEffects (et al) skills rank in the water wings swim team category. This is precisely why I’m putting a 10:1 ratio of Joseph Campbell to digital widget time into this year’s classroom adventure, even if my trusty edu-blogosphere network demands my inner-circle decoder ring back once they realize I’m serious. Oh, and I sleep a lot less in the coming school year.

    My two pennies and a bag of lunchroom chips.