dy/av : 008 : behind the scenes

dy/av : 008 : behind the scenes from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.


instructional design, lesson planning, creative process

iPod Edition

dy/av : 008 : behind the scenes (640 x 480)

Previous Episodes

dy/av : 007 : the motiongraphics episode
dy/av : 006 : carver’s classroom management
dy/av : 005 : how i work
dy/av : 004 : thank you, teaching
dy/av : 003 : on the office
dy/av : 002 : the next-gen lecturer
dy/av : 001 : earn the medium

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. Dan-
    Where do the “compelling” questions” come from? Curriculum Guide from the state? A Textbook? What is the origin of your concepts?

  2. Points well taken, Dan. If you’re going to do something you should take the time to do it right. Especially when the alternative is wasting the time of your audience/students.

    Will Season 1 of dy/av be released on DVD in time for the upcoming holiday season?

  3. Oh, NOW, I feel unprepared – school starts in six days. On the other hand, I’ve finally cleared the archives, so I should have time to plan lessons now :)

    Keep it up, Dan, this “soon to start his third year teacher” has pondered and learnt a lot in the past week thanks to your blog.

  4. @Johan, I hope you skimmed and skipped often. Glad to have you and Per around for some international perspective.

    @Scott, stocking stuffers for the kids? I’ll see what I can do.

    @Doug, it isn’t unusual to find some good conceptual stuff in textbooks, but more often these prompts strike me from nowhere, when I’m minding my teaching the least.

    But I keep an eye semi-attuned to the math around me, in TV shows, at gas stations, in grocery stores, which has paid huge dividends The good news is I only have to experience each epiphany once and then it’s preserved digitally for as long as I need it.

  5. That final bit about how it gets easier and easier whichever choice you make is powerful. I think it hits on why I just switched from fifth grade to first. I was letting it get way too easy to do way too little. Shaking it up this way is pushing me back in the other direction.

    Now the scary part is that I don’t know what the questions should be. It’s a steep learning curve in the beginning.

    (Least favorite episode? Why?)

  6. @Dan- Your practical applications of math are phenomenal, and i’m certain they turn kids onto math, which as a teacher is quite satisfying. My question was more along the lines of, do you have a state curriculum and exam to teach to?

    I have a state history exam, which makes things difficult at times to make relevant and engaging, which is the big challenge. Why is the War of 1812 or Andrew Jackson (etc…) important to kids?

  7. Not my kids, but nicely gift wrapped it’ll make a fine gift for all of my new teachers. ;)

    You standing in dark for the last couple vids would scare the bejesus out of my 4 year old…

  8. @Jenny, the visual element just wasn’t there. I thought I had the visual hook when I first sketched it out (like a year ago) but then I’m there, simply talking to the camera for the last half of the episode. The dude talking about “earning the medium” in episode one was not proud of this one. (Incidentally, I wasn’t sure anyone bothered with the metadata on these things.)

    @Doug, I have the California State standards hovering over me. I don’t have an interesting hook for all 24 (or however many) but I’m angling that direction. Some days, I’ll stare at (eg.) the quadratic formula and wonder how I’ll make it happen. Those days I try to connect as directly as I can with why I love it and then immediately access the lobe that stores all my miscellany, looking for just the right cross-reference.

    @Scott, it’s all so somber and self-serious lately. Bugs me. It’s been tough having to steal after-hours time with this equipment.

  9. Cut corners or be diligent…

    I think we teachers need to accept to cut corners to not burn out (especially you US teacher that have among the highest teaching load in the world) but we always need to remember that what we do is serious and analyse the impact from the shortcuts we make. We always make choices on how to spend out time, sit 20 more minutes with these two students and review what we did last week or spend 20 more minutes on next day lesson

    When I work I decide on how much time I am prepared to spend (my contract says 45h/week, anything more then that is charity work, and I do my fair share of that, last year my average was about 60h/week.)
    Then the professional decision, how am I going to spend this time to give my students as much learning as possible.
    Those decisions include a lot of cutting corners, reusing old material, stealing ideas from other teachers (at my school or from the web). I use every trick I can to save time for the task I think matters more.

    The last two years I have started to feel competent enough to really start to think about reuseability. I have chosen one course every semester that get extra planningtime so the material is good enough to be reused next time without very much work. I also spend more time after the class on reflection and adjustments for next time than I normally do. But to find the time to produce this high quality material I need to let myself cutting corners at other places.

    The fact that I always need to prioritise my time mean that I am sceptic to new untested ideas because of the great risk of wasting time. (I don’t even have my own blogg…)


  10. If I can reframe the term, I don’t think “diligence” and “not burning out” need exist on separate planets. Maybe we’re crossing language barriers but the antonym of “diligence” is “carelessness.” Maybe you know the corners you shouldn’t cut but, for reasons of time, cannot avoid cutting them. I have no disrespect for that. It’s the teachers who cut corners unwittingly who do a disservice to our profession.

  11. Combining this with We Need Fewer Heroes and getting all the more nervous about the coming school year. I’ve got general unit plans almost complete, but want to redo my lesson plans from last year. Three or four preps. And suspect I’ll be at school 10.5 hours a day before being able to come home to prep.

    It comes back to the question of how to decide which corners to cut. In which arenas of life. Deciding between what’s affordable and what’s cheap.