Here’s a video (by Derek Alexander Muller) I think you should watch.
The critique of #flipclass aside, I’m intrigued by the way the narrator describes the value of “bringing up the misconception”. It’s almost like a thorn that creates some discomfort that only learning will relieve. This gets close to Dan Meyer’s use of the word “perplexity”.
From Dr. Meyer: “Perplexity comes along once in a while. What is it? It’s when a kid doesn’t know something, wants to know that thing, and believes that knowing that thing is within her power. That right there is some of the most powerful learning moments I’ve ever seen – so powerful that it’s really hard for me as a teacher to mess those up.”
There’s power in perplexity. I’ve seen this in my classroom on multiple occasions. It’s important to remember that there’s three distinct parts to creating what Dr. Meyer is describing. First, there needs to be something worth knowing. Second, you have to create the want. And finally, we need to empower the students so they feel enabled to know that thing. What Dr. Alexander suggests is that becoming aware of your misconception seems unsettling (leading to claims that videos were confusing), but also leads to more learning. The discomfort fed a drive to resolve the discomfort.
The tricky thing is that misconceptions are a tool you can use when they are available. Science provides a particularly fertile ground for misconceptions because so much of it is drawn from experiences many of us have regularly. Alexander uses the model of a ball flying through the air. This video uses the phases of the moon and the seasons.
The potential for misconceptions is necessarily lightened when there’s no misconceptions, so the quest for perplexity in math needs to take on a different look, proper planning and timing, and different strategies for when perplexity isn’t an available option. (Preconceived notions are just as good at times. After all, we ALL think we know something about squares!)
It’s like Dr. Meyer says, those wonderful perplexing moments only come along once in a while. We foster those moments when we have them, try to create as many as we can and we do our best every other time.
One thing you certainly can’t say about #TeamJXN (Made up of Kellie DeLosSantos, Alaina Sharp and Ann Smart) is that they aren’t outside-the-box thinkers.
“Outside-the-box” is certainly well on it’s way to cliche status these days, but despite that, it still has a perfectly functional and relevant meaning. And at an EdTech conference, where so much of what we are learning about is touted as “outside-the-box”, what does it actually take to live up to that?
It takes raptors at lunch.
The assignment was simple enough. Take a photo that reflects energy changing from one form to another. It could be a photo that you find funny or interesting. Or it could be something that you’re curious about or have questions about. That part was up to them. The “why” behind the photo was their business.
Here’s a few of the highlights. Enjoy. It’s not very often you get to see physics through the eyes of 10-12-year-olds.
Which one is your favorite?
From the physics department, I started my morning with a fascinating bit of reading from FiveThirtyEight.
They hooked me with the intro line:
The questions kids ask about science aren’t always easy to answer. Sometimes, their little brains can lead to big places adults forget to explore. With that in mind, we’ve started a series called Science Question From a Toddler, which will use kids’ curiosity as a jumping-off point to investigate the scientific wonders that adults don’t even think to ask about.
You want to capture my attention? That’s a pretty good way to do it.
What follows is a really approachable discussion of sound energy that is designed to be understandable but doesn’t skimp on all the science-y goodies to do it. It also doesn’t shirk on the drama.
A sound is a shove — just a little one, a tap on the tightly stretched membrane of your ear drum. The louder the sound, the heavier the knock. If a sound is loud enough, it can rip a hole in your ear drum. If a sound is loud enough, it can plow into you like a linebacker and knock you flat on your butt. When the shock wave from a bomb levels a house, that’s sound tearing apart bricks and splintering glass. Sound can kill you.
Go ahead and give it a read. I’d consider using it in a high school physics course. Although, full disclosure: I can’t universally recommend FiveThirtyEight since I know they also write about a lot of other topics and not all of their writers stick to basic school-appropriate rules, like no swears.
It also mixes in a bit of history (some nice story-telling on the eruption of Krakatoa) and some nice unit discussions (hertz, decibels, some prefixes get in the mix, too.)
All in all, definitely an article worth checking out.
Sometimes, “real-world” problems just go ahead and write themselves. And I say take advantage. Why be creative with the actual world can do the heavy lifting for you, right?
This floated across my Facebook feed. Pretty sure you’ll see where I’ve made some edits to the original texts.
Sequels could potentially include:
If Ortha wanted to exchange them for quarters, how many 5-gallon jugs would she need? You could do the same with nickels or dimes.
What would be the mass of each penny-filled jug?
What do you think? What other questions could come off this wonderful set up?