What is a
In what's become a daily ritual for me I started by asking google to
help me answer the question "What is a Story?" Here's one I liked:
"Any sequence of events with a beginning, middle, and an end makes up a
story, but it would not be a very interesting story unless it had a
dramatic twist of some sort so the end could not be anticipated."1
This reminded me that what I do as a teacher and story telling have a
lot in common. I usually start with something that will grab the
students' attention (a beginning). Then we do some sort of group, hands-on activity (a middle). In the last few minutes of the time we have
together I ask the group to stop, reflect and share what was learned
today (an end). As a teacher I then ask myself whether the lesson was
successful (i.e. Did I achieve my goals?).
Invariably, there will be lots of surprises ranging from “the lesson
was a real stinker” to “I can’t believe what a great lesson that was!”
It is the latter reaction that has always inspired me to create ways to
engage students in activities that make a difference for them. “Oh, now
I get it,” is one of my favorite student responses. I’m sure you have a
repertoire of favorites yourself.
On Tuesday Don asked us to come up with our top ten favorite tools.
What I’d like to ask you for is a favorite story (or two) of how a
mathtool has made a difference for you in teaching students (of any
I have three vignettes that I would like to share with you. Each story
will come in three “acts”: (1) Setting the stage, (2) Doing the
activity and (3) Debriefing. The stories are (coming soon):
- The Great Green Globs Contest
- Playing Fraction Darts: discovering something about
teacher’s knowledge of fractions
- The Weird Number: how to flatten the fraction barriers
Once you have had a chance to read one or all of these stories, I
encourage you to share a story with us about using a math tool with your
The story entry page is at
where you will be prompted for information about your story. Also you
will need to know the URL of the page in the Math Tools catalog that
describes the tool you are using.
I look forward to reading them.
1 “What is a Story?” http://www.makemovies.co.uk/stories/page02.htm