Date: Jan 18, 2013 8:46 PM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: To K-12 teachers here: Another enjoyable post from Dan Meyer

Richard Strausz posted Jan 18, 2013 5:09 PM:
> (this one is actually from the NCTM).
> Many of our prealgebra and algebra 1 students enjoyed
> this thinking/algebra activity:
> 23
> Richard

Most enjoyable. Truly challenging, I'm sure. BUT:

1. Is it a "Dan Meyer post", or an NCTM problem? I seem to be a bit confused.

2. What may be the 'computer-&-software issues' involved in setting up and monitoring such an assignment? Is there a specific software that helps? Does the teacher have the needed know-how? (I know I don't, in the absence of appropriate software).

I observed that I had got the 'chocolate letters' problem ok when I pasted in the addressline of my browser.

When in error I pasted
I got something called an "Affine Recurrence Spreadsheet" requiring a plug-in. (It appears, to me, most interesting indeed, and I hope to investigate a bit further).

"Illuminations" ( seems to be a most 'illuminating' NCTM-site [so to speak], well worth exploring for any teacher. (No - I've not explored it yet).

3. Back to the "Chocolate Letters Activity":

Not being a teacher myself, I must be wrong in the following opinion:

Isn't it just far too tough for 'pre-algebra students'? (In fact, I wouldn't know how to do it WITHOUT a fair bit of algebra - am I perhaps wrong in calling it 'algebra'?).

Doesn't the fact that only 2 (groups?) out of 20 got it right (see )
mean that it IS in fact too tough for the specific level of the students who were assigned the activity?

However, if the students enjoyed the assignment, I remove all my objections: it doesn't really matter if it was rather "too tough", in particular as they were tackling it in groups - in which case it's a different ball game altogether involving group learning; also that dreaded idea from some Montessori-type hell, 'discovery' itself, and all it means! See attachment herewith for some thoughts on this kind of thing: the document does, of course, need to be amplified a bit to cover some of the issues raised here).

The specific teachers would surely know about how much their students learned - or failed to learn - from the assignment: this is assuming the teachers weren't 'EM', of course. If they did happen to be 'EM' they should be in jail, of course, as demanded by some here.

Also: what might have been the 'pedagogical value' of such an exercise if any such beastie or thingumajig as 'pedagogy' or any of its derivates actually exists in some heaven of our 'traditional teachers'. (See No. 4 below).

4. Is the NCTM a member, by chance, of that dreaded 'Education Mafia' (EM)?

[In your opinion - Haim? RH?? Anyone else???

[I just want to be sure I've got my 'EM' to rights].

5. Thank you, Richard, for this fascinating post.


Message was edited by: GS Chandy

Message was edited by: GS Chandy