Math Teachers: Be Less Helpful


[Dan Myer on YouTube.]

I especially like the “4 layers of a story problem” concept, which helped me understand how Dan converts textbook problems into What Can You Do With This? challenges.

The 4 Layers

In nearly every textbook problem, there exist:

  • The visual
    picture, diagram, or video clip — provided by the text or drawn by the student
  • The mathematical structure
    including the decisions of what to measure, and how, and with what units
  • The sub-steps
    a series of questions that will lead students to the solution, often presented as parts a, b, etc.
  • The query
    the Big Question which the student needs to answer

By removing the middle layers and forcing his students to come up with them on their own, Dan turns a mere exercise into a thought-provoking problem.

Yeah. I think I could do that.


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