Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Be Less Helpful" - A Teaching Philosophy

While this is a math lesson I think everyone could benefit from reading it because it is all about teaching. The full post includes video of him actually teaching the lesson as well as the slides he uses. It also shows how sharing your teaching online can help you find better lessons for yourself. Great stuff.

This is from one of my favorite edubloggers Dan Meyer, a math teacher from California. His philosophy is to "be less helpful" when you teach. He wants teachers to lead their students through a guided inquiry model to solve problems. When I first heard it, I wasn't buying it. But now I'm all in. I think it's a great way to utilize the Socratic method and lead the students in a more engaging way.

Dan takes this graph from a fellow blogger and shows how he utilized it in his classroom.

"At one point in my career, I would have led this off by giving them all the data and asking them to compute the ratio of cost to volume. but my blue students are poorly-served by that approach. So many of them have been burned so badly by math that if I open the conversation with terms like "ratio" and "volume," pushing numbers and structure right at them, I'll lose the students I want to keep. Moreover, this confuses master with slave. We use math to make sense of the world around us more often than the reverse."

Click here to read how he goes from Red Bull to Crude Oil to HP Ink all while teaching ratios and volume.

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