Recently I watched Dan Meyer’s Ted talk about “Math class needs a makeover” Although the talk was for mathematics teachers, one part of it appeals to all teachers. He emphasizes the need for change in the curriculum and what 21st century brings. Below is an excerpt from his talk.
“So 90 percent of what I do with my five hours of prep time per week is to take fairly compelling elements of problems like this from my textbook and rebuild them in a way that supports math reasoning and patient problem solving. And here’s how it works. I like this question. It’s about a water tank. The question is: How long will it take you to fill it up? First things first, we eliminate all the sub-steps. Students have to develop those, they have to formulate those. And then notice that all the information written on there is stuff you’ll need. None of it’s a distractor, so we lose that. Students need to decide, “All right, well, does the height matter? Does the side of it matter? Does the color of the valve matter? What matters here?” Such an underrepresented question in math curriculum. So now we have a water tank. How long will it take you to fill it up? And that’s it.
And because this is the 21st century and we would love to talk about the real world on its own terms, not in terms of line art or clip art that you so often see in textbooks, we go out and we take a picture of it. So now we have the real deal. How long will it take it to fill it up? And then even better is we take a video, a video of someone filling it up. And it’s filling up slowly, agonizingly slowly. It’s tedious. Students are looking at their watches, rolling their eyes, and they’re all wondering at some point or another, “Man, how long is it going to take to fill up?” That’s how you know you’ve baited the hook, right?”
Dan encourages math teachers to use multimedia and I say this is true for all teachers. Every subject I can think about can benefit from multimedia. Actually using multimedia in the classroom is not a new method and you may wonder why we are talking about it as if it was found yesterday. Let’s take a look at the cont. of his talk;
“And why this is an amazing time to be a math teacher right now is because we have the tools to create this high-quality curriculum in our front pocket. It’s ubiquitous and fairly cheap, and the tools to distribute it freely under open licenses has also never been cheaper or more ubiquitous.”
Do you see what I see? Redesigning the curriculum with technology has never been easier thanks to mobile devices, cell phones, tablets, etc.
These devices are perfect tools to create a content but they are not enough. Bringing a cell phone or a tablet device into classroom will not magically change everything. You and the students must have necessary skills to use those devices in a productive way but that is an issue of another article. Actually I have written some articles about this idea and you can find them under “1:” Laptop Programs” and “Fundamentals” categories on the left side of the page.