So the question I ask myself before I give any calculus lesson is: “Why on Earth would anyone actually go through the trouble of doing it this way?” There really is a rich set of useful problems that can only be solved using differential calculus, so why not present them (or, God forbid, let the kids think of them) to students and work your way out?
My rhetoric here is getting a bit lofty, and I hope my actual lessons don’t end up being a let down, but they sometimes are for me, too. It turns out that it’s hard to come up with real things for math to do when you’ve only been modeled the most sterile way of learning math.
I find this kind of exuberant, confident, loose-limbed classroom introspection pretty much irresistible. It’s rare you find an edublogger this prolific who also works full-time in a classroom.
Put your money in Shawn Cornally, Inc., while his stock price is low.
Matt TownsleyFebruary 28, 2010 - 11:23 am -
I couldn’t agree more, Dan. I am a bit tainted though…Shawn teaches next door to me. :) Captain Cornally is the real deal.
Shawn CornallyFebruary 28, 2010 - 1:02 pm -
Wow. Thanks for the recommendation. I’m not sure how to explain how flattered I am. You’ve really changed the way I teach, thanks!
Tangentially, what do you do for Google? Not sure if you can talk about it on your blog or not.
Dan MeyerMarch 1, 2010 - 8:31 am -
I’m under a NDA but I can tell you (broadly) that my team is working on the application of computational thinking principles (particularly as described in Jeanette Wing’s 1996 paper) to classroom math instruction. Some of those application involve the Python programming language. Others don’t. It’s been interesting but I’m not sure how much airplay it’ll get here, even after my employment there ends in July.
Simon OldakerMarch 5, 2010 - 5:52 am -
Why is the revolution happening among math teachers, of all people?
I’m joking. I taught grade 8 math for a short period and felt like I’d arrived at the very heart of school, so it’s not surprizing that people who do this all the time are the very ones who begin from the inside to think about a completely different way of ‘doing school’.
Because Dan and Co. are doing nothing less than that – re-thinking how we do school.
Still, I’m frustrated that I still haven’t found a community of language or social science teachers who are doing something similar to what is happening here.