Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Three Acts - Dan Meyer

Today I am linking up with 4MulaFun and friends for their Math is Real Life Linkup!

So often, we hear, "when is this EVER going to be useful??" and without missing a beat, a math teacher can respond with 10 different ways. Some things, I will admit, are not necessarily are going to be seen again outside of a middle school math class, but that's a rant for another day. What I like to present in my classroom are real-world math problems, every day. I really feel like if students are able to relate to the information being presented to them, they are much more likely to apply it as if it was them in the problem. 

My very favorite thing to teach is percents (calculating tax, tip, discount, mark-up, etc.) for the sheer value of the unit in everyday life. You have to know how to calculate your total before you pay for something to know if you are being charged appropriately, even if you just estimate. And yes, technology is GREAT and I don't want my students to take out a pencil and paper the next time they are at Macy's, BUT technology is only as good as the person who inputs the information. The person operating the calculator must have an understanding of percents in order to best estimate the price.

Ok, so this was my roundabout way of introducing Dan Meyer to you all. I am sure many of you have heard of him, many may have even heard him speak! I had the privilege of listening to him give the keynote address at CAMT in San Antonio this summer. He is awesome. He discussed perplexing problems in the math classroom. Not giving all of the information. Making the kids work for it. I loved his way of thinking and knew we needed to do more of this. 

At another training this summer, I was introduced to a section of his website called Three Acts. I know, I am probably super late to the party. BUT, if there is anyone who hasn't heard of this, you need to go check it out. right. now.

The one that we had to do in my PD was the "leaky faucet" and can be accessed here. It's ok, go watch it...I'll wait :)

Perplexing, isn't it? Anyhow, it is like a choose your own adventure for math since you can solve this several different ways. Also interesting to point out is the conversion between systems that students aren't going to know the rate for right off the bat. This is where having technology would be helpful, because, isn't that exactly what we as teachers would do?! Yes. Yes, it is. 

I can't wait to look through some of the rest of these. A full list can be accessed here, and he even has which standards it covers! Enjoy :)


  1. I think that introducing a weekly "Perplexing Problem" in a math class could lead to some great discussions and investigations by students. It would have to be modeled but also able to be related to. Can't wait to see how you use this with your new group of kiddos.

    Jennifer Smith-Sloane

  2. I like Dan Myer's blog, and I love the way he presents math in an engaging and realistic way. It gives me so many resources for when I teach math. Definitely something I want to use in combination with doing Number Talks in class.

    Also, I love your "Math is Real Life" linky party. I'll be in my first year of teaching this year, and all the ideas that ya'll post will be extremely helpful, especially for new teachers.

  3. I agree so much that technology is a tool for mathematicians to use--but they MUST understand the how and the why! Estimation is something we need to be stressing ALL the time! Thanks for linking up!

  4. What a great video!! Thank you so very much for linking up! I look forward to seeing more of how YOU are using math in real life too!!