Friday, March 2, 2012

Overtime

 Greatest game ever? UNC vs Kansas and Wilt, 1957
Quick little post on one idea.  Observed two very good novice teachers today who are doing a great job at team teaching. Their focus for the observation was making math meaningful, aside from real world connections. (Focus? See Dave Coffey's account of our use of Action Plans.) In our discussion, they really focused on the processes of connections and problem solving being key to making the subject meaningful, especially with an emphasis on making sense.

Driving home from the observation today, I heard one of those short family advice radio spots. (One of the signs of advancing age is listening to talking on the radio. Mostly NPR, but today I wandered.) The speaker commented how he loves a good overtime game, almost regardless of sport. It's tense, the teams are evenly matched, the end is in doubt. These are often the most remembered games. His advice was to create similar moments in family life.  If the kids are really into something, let them stay up for another half hour.  If there's a moment happening, encourage it. (I'm not being coy here, I'd link the guy if I knew who it was.)

It didn't take me too long to connect it to the topic of the day. In dealing with slope, there was a problem about a roof. There's a chance there for a question: "why would the slope of a roof matter?" In an observation earlier this week there was deep engagement from students in an activity modeling Black Rhino population with exponential decay. The teacher asked "what could have caused this?" and the atmosphere turned on a dime.  They had done an investigation on the school staircase's the day before and a student really clicked with it. I think as teachers we often have an agenda, and are well determined on where class is going and what we've got to get done. And we miss those moments that deserve an overtime.

Do you have a story about an overtime moment that became a memorable class occasion? Two that come to mind for me are a #mathchat-inspired discussion with preservice secondary math teachers last fall, and a triangle geometry activity with preservice teachers that literally turned into overtime as students stayed 25 min past the end of class to discuss the triangles.