Oh my, do I love this video.
But seriously. Don’t do this.
Thanks to Approximately Normal for the find.
I have to show that to my students – or maybe not – do you think they would be insulted?
Mary, it could definitely go south on you. Proceed with caution! I could imagine it being a way to open a conversation about how the class is going for students. As in, “I want to show you something funny, and the I want to talk about it. This video shows a math class going very very badly and I don’t want our class to be like this. So let’s talk afterwards about ways I can keep you from feeling like the student in this video…”
With a class of future teachers, we can use the video to discuss teaching and learning of math in the abstract. But in a College Algebra or Math Center course, we would have to be super careful.
Wow–on the other hand it’s hard to know what to do when you’re the teacher in that sort of situation. So what do you do?
I know some of the answers, of course–acting it out, using manipulatives, making it a more concrete problem (if you had 6 cookies and you ate one, how many would be left), using smaller numbers (if you had 3 cookies and you ate one, how many would be left), and those are the sorts of things I’d hope that my future teachers would come up with if we discussed this video, but even with those mental tools, you do come across students where nothing works.
I was working with a third grader some time ago, for whom the answer to taking away 0 was almost always 0 (what’s 4-0? 0!). Changing the wording and acting it out would work temporarily (though rarely the first time–asking if you had 4 cookies and you ate none of them how many would you have left generally resulted in the answer 0), but the next day we were generally back to 4-0=0, and I was never sure if anything was working or if it was all illusory. So–what should you do? If you have answers (or good resources) I’d love to have them. You never know when you might run into a child where you need a new trick.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment, LSquared.
Let me make explicit what I see in this video.
First of all, I was finishing up a morning’s worth of writing Talking Math with Your Kids posts. So I wasn’t coming at the video so much from the teacher perspective as the parent one.
Either way, though, I suppose I have the same perspective. Namely: The learner’s ideas are nowhere present in this conversation. The goal in the interaction is getting to a right answer to a particular problem. The things you mention, LSquared, are all means to that end. Manipulatives, contextualizing the problem, etc. All positive moves.
But I would argue for putting the learners’ ideas at the center of the lesson (in school) or conversation (at home). My main resource for this is always going to be Children’s Mathematics, from the Cognitively Guided Instruction research project (CGI). CGI begins with the premise that children have mathematical ideas that do not match those of adults very well, but that these ideas have predictable structure and can be used to help kids move forward.
So I would say that what to do involves digging for kids’ ideas. Not giving them strategies so much as asking to find out what they do know. Then build on that.
Or we can just laugh along with the video and marvel at what a crazy and complex profession we’ve chosen for ourselves. I’m cool doing that too.
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