Episode #165: The Real Issue Behind Lack of Engagement – A Math Mentoring Moment with Aubrey McKelvey
This is another Math Mentoring Moment episode where we talk with a member of the Math Moment Maker Community who is working through problems of practice and together we brainstorm possible next steps and strategies to overcome them.
- What to do to help students apply their learning to a new or different context;
- How to craft a productive struggle that students will want to engage in;
- Why slowing down and “breadcrumbing” students into your lesson is crucial to spark curiosity and fuel sense making; and,
- Tips to implement the Curiosity Path in your lessons each day.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. So at my school, we're looking at our curriculum and trying to revamp some things. And I was given permission to pilot an illustrative math curriculum, and I really looked at it and thought, this is a really great concept based. They take you through the ideas, through the standards where it's poised, just so... The trouble is that I'm having trouble engaging students in that journey, in that process. I think that, like you said, not every kid values that, they just want to know what's the answer and let's go. And what I've crosstalk.
Jon Orr: Today we speak with Aubrey McKelvey, a seventh and eighth grade teacher from just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Like many middle schoolers, Aubrey's students are tuning out and demanding the fast food version of math class. Her students want to skip the understanding and go directly to the how. In this episode, we're going to uncover that real issue behind the lack of engagement and help Aubrey with some next steps.
Kyle Pearce: Yes, Jon, this is another math mentoring moment episode, where we get a chance to talk with someone just like you from the Make Math Moments Community, who's working through problems of practice and together, we're going to try to brainstorm some possible next steps and strategies to help overcome them. Here we go.
Jon Orr: Let's do it.
Kyle Pearce: Welcome to the Make Math Moments Matter Podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr. We are two math teachers from makemathmoments.com who together...
Kyle Pearce: With you, the community of Math Moment Makers worldwide who want to build and deliver math lessons that spark curiosity.
Jon Orr: Fuel sense making.
Kyle Pearce: And ignite your teacher moves. That is right my friends, we are diving into yet another math mentoring moment episode, and as you're going to hear, and maybe for some of you who are watching this on YouTube, some of you will see Jon and I going down memory lane, remembering a lot of the struggles that took us many years to really even just identify, like we didn't even know what was really going on and ever since been trying to find ways and strategies that we can overcome them. So we're going to be diving into an awesome conversation here today with Aubrey.
Jon Orr: Yeah. We had a lot of similarities and we are excited to share them with you and the ideas that we came up with, so let's get right to it. Hey, hey, there Aubrey. Thanks for joining us here on Making Math Moments That Matter Podcasts, We are super excited to have you on the podcast. Fill our listeners in, fill us in as well. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you're coming from and maybe like, hey, let's get a little bit of backstory here on your role in education.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah, sure. I'm so glad to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I live outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and again, my name is Aubrey and I teach at a small private school and I'm really enjoying doing that. I teach math obviously to seventh and sometimes eighth grade as well. And would you to know a little bit about my background and how I got into education? Is that right?
Jon Orr: Please do.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. We always love the stories.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. So I got into education through a back channel I feel like because I was always good at math and sciencey stuff growing up. And my mom actually was like, "You're so good at it, you should probably go into a field related to math and science." And I was like, "I don't know. I really enjoy working with kids. I might want to be a teacher." And she's like, "Okay, that's fine. You can keep doing that. But also go ahead and get a degree in something." And so I'm like, "Okay, that sounds good. I'll do that." And I went into biomedical engineering and I loved it.
I think that I really love the context that, that gives me now as an educator to be able to talk about how these things are applied in the real world, which I think is great, but I never actually made it to being an engineer because along the way, I had an internship where we were teaching engineering type concepts to high school students, and that just kind of... I got bit by the education bug again, and so I went on straight to get my Master's in Education and haven't looked back and teaching math ever since.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. What a cool story. And it is great to hear as well, because I know that sometimes in the middle grades and in the elementary grades, sometimes educators get in to teach kids. But oftentimes there's like maybe a discomfort with math or at least maybe when they first began. So it sounds like you sort of had that in your hat there, which is nice. And let's keep going here because I want to dive straight into your math moment because obviously something along the way you had mentioned that you felt like you did well in math and the sciences. So tell us if you were to think back to your K through 12 math journey, what is that math moment that sort of sticks out to You?
Aubrey McKelvey: Well, I think pretty early on, like in middle school, seven and eighth grade, I got placed on like the fast math track. And so that put me into a lot of like precal and then onto calculus when I was in high school. And a lot of times I didn't really understand what we were doing. Like when you get into those upper level maths, it's almost like developmentally, maybe you're not quite ready to comprehend what it really means. So I remember though, I had a teacher in precal trig who did a lot of application problems and we had like small groups that we would talk about.
I remember the unit circle and she had something about like a wheel. I really honestly don't even remember what the problem was about. I just remember really enjoying grappling with these problem-solving applications where it wasn't just like, you take your notes and then you do your homework and you just repeat the same thing every day. I really enjoyed going to math class where I knew that I would be able to talk about this stuff with my peers, and it was really fun.
Jon Orr: Yeah, that does sound good, and I think we all listening to that think this is the math class we'd love to create, right? Like how do we create that math class? Because we often talk about what we experienced as well in math classes. And I had that very traditional math class where it was, hey, we're going to learn the rules. And I felt like I was like you, I could do everything, but I was like some of the things... I knew how the algebra related to each other.
Like when it was calculus time, I was like, "I can take a derivative." I knew what I was doing in the sense that I knew what the derivative was...
Kyle Pearce: But why, but why?
Jon Orr: Well, yes, that's it. It's like, okay, but I can do that, and I know that I'm finding the slope of a tangent line at a point. Like I get all of that, but you are right. Like Kyle, it's like, why? Like where is the application? Because I think that was left out a lot for me as well. Yeah, that's such an interesting point. How do you think, if you now extrapolate forward, how do you think that math moment back then influenced your journey?
Aubrey McKelvey: Hmm, that's a good question. I think first of all, it kept me engaged in mathematics, and kept me learning and interested in what was going on. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a total rule follower as well. I'm a first born, so that's my jam too. So maybe I come by the math rules honest as well. But as far as the interest level stuff goes, I think that what my teacher was able to do really kept me interested in thinking about, okay, this isn't just a set of rules to follow. And I think that math is beautiful because the rules work so well, but then how it applies to real life is meaningful.
And so that's something that now in my own classroom I try to engage my students with where I'm trying to make sure that they understand why we're doing what we're doing and see the beauty behind the rules as well, because it's so much more than just studenting, that terminology, math is more than that, and I want them to be able to get bit by the math bug as I was as a kid.
Kyle Pearce: Very cool. It's interesting because Jon, you were reflecting on the fact that you sort of plugged and played and you weren't really sure why. And I'm foreshadowing where I think this conversation's going based on our email conversation that got us going on this episode. And I was definitely one of those students who, first of all, and I've mentioned it before, I didn't really know why I was doing what I was doing. And I was probably that student that would just sort of be like, well, this is how you do it, and that's it. And almost like a bit of cockiness to it where you just sort of like know how to do it and like leave me alone. And I find some students are like that. And I even feel like I was that student who probably didn't want that application that you had referenced in your math moment.
And I think for me, I was sort of against it because I think it would reveal that I knew a lot less than maybe others thought I knew because I actually didn't do a whole lot of deep thinking. Obviously I had to think about the rules and the steps and the procedures and the patterns, but I didn't really understand what I was doing, and I sort of didn't want to go down that path because that's hard work. So I'm wondering, can you give everyone... I've sort of foreshadowed a little bit, but what is that struggle, that current pebble in your shoe, that itch that you're looking to scratch in your math classroom.
There's probably a ton of things that are going really well. Sounds like you have a really good perspective on what you want to bring to the classroom. Where is it right now that you're spending your time focusing on and trying to figure out how you can tweak things in order to get over this little bump? What's that speed bump that you're working on now?
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. So at my school, we're looking at our curriculum and trying to revamp some things. And I was given permission to pilot an illustrative math curriculum, and I really looked at it and thought, this is a really great concept based. They take you through the ideas, through the standards where it's poised, just so. The trouble is that I'm having trouble engaging students in that journey, in that process. Like you said, not every kid values that, they just want to know what's the answer and let's go.
And what I find is that a lot of times students will try to short circuit to the answer and they don't understand what's happening, and then they can't replicate that, they can't take that and they can't apply it to a different related concept. And that's where the real math happens, is like really understanding not just how to do it in this one particular context, but then taking it and being able to apply that same concept into the next level because math is such an iterative process.
I mean, we're really just talking about numbers and we go a little deeper the next year and a little deeper the next year. And so I want to spark that interest in my own classroom. And I have a handful of students who are with me and they're engaged, but then the rest of them are just doing this number where they're looking up at the ceiling and bored out of their mind because they just want to wait until I give them an answer. And I don't want to do that. I want to be able to construct a productive struggle where they'll engage in that. That's my pain point right now.
Jon Orr: Yeah. We totally hear you on that because I think we've all been in that situation or we are in that situation at times, somebody out there listening right now is like, that's exactly what I'm going through right now. So I think we're all in that place where it's like, I want to engage my kids without just giving them the shortcut. I don't want to just spoon feed them here. I want them to actually think and I think teaching grade seven and eight is that they're at a time where they probably just want that, they realized.
I think one of the things that I've realized teaching that age group and a little bit older is like grade seven, I still had kids like, ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me. I want to have this conversation. But it's like, there's a moment between grade seven and grade eight where kids are like, "I think I get it. That math is like this get done thing. And it's like, we just get this done." So I'm wondering if you can paint us a picture here, Aubrey. Like we always want to dive deeper, and see what this looks like so that we can pull apart some stuff. So I'm wondering like what right now... Let's even go back to the beginning, what would you say your first day of class looks like?
Aubrey McKelvey: Hmm. Okay. So back at the beginning of this school year?
Jon Orr: First school day, first school day.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. So I actually started out trying to develop community, build relationships, talk about math in these interesting and engaging ways. And so I found Dr. Jo Boaler with the YouCubed had some really great how to begin I think it was like five lessons or something. And I cherry picked through those lessons because I think that some of them would be a little more interesting to my students than others. So we did a couple of those lessons before diving into the curriculum that I told you I'm trying to test out this year.
So it looked like learning how to work in groups together and learning how to communicate and problem solving strategies, how to grapple with those things when you don't know where to start all good things, I think. And I had hoped that they would pick up on more than I feel like has carried over into our actual lessons now.
Kyle Pearce: Interesting. And I'm wondering as you move along, where you feel that this sort of... Was it right at the beginning of the school year you felt like some students were sort of just like, "Hmm, let's move this thing along." I know one of the biggest challenges I remember experiencing when I was trying to shift my teaching practice to something that's a little more active learning versus passive where students were copying my note and regurgitating examples. I really found that students sort of were like my mindset I described like when I was in school where it was like, "Okay, I know there's a trick coming, so let's just get to it."
When did you start noticing that? Is it just this particular class? Did you just find this as something that's been going on for a number of years and is there a moment or a place in a lesson where you feel like that is happening?
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah, that's a great question. Trying to think through if I'm noticing a pattern there. I will say that the particular classes I'm testing this with, I only teach one of this section and we're ability grouped, and so we've got some of the learners who are on standard, like on grade level in this class and everybody else is one level ahead. And so I wonder if that factors into it because I saw this last year too with the same type of group where they're used to math not making sense to them. They're used to it being boring maybe.
I feel like there's a lot of like history or baggage that they're carrying into my classroom and they really want to change their minds and make it fun. But it seems like it's been difficult to try to do that, to actually make any progress with that. I would love to hear more about as you were changing over, because I've used some of y'all's Three-Act Math and things like that before, not with this particular group yet, but I would love to hear more about how to change the mindset from that regular, like studenting perspective into something that can be participatory.
Jon Orr: Before we venture down that path right now, like if we progress along into say a typical day, think about your normal day, would you be able to walk us through what happens at the beginning, the middle, the end, that thing so we can get a sense of what your day looks like?
Aubrey McKelvey: Like my whole day or just this one class?
Jon Orr: Yeah.
Aubrey McKelvey: That class. Okay.
Kyle Pearce: No, the class that you're brushing your teeth.
Jon Orr: You're feeling the struggle and then all crosstalk.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, I was going to pop in there and say, I think Jon you mean, yeah, like your lesson structure, let's say crosstalk start to begin.
Jon Orr: Right now my lessons, my classes crosstalk whole day. That is where my brain is. It's like, we're not at periods right now-
Aubrey McKelvey: Okay. That makes sense.
Jon Orr: ... because of cohorting.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So with this particular class, I see them at different times throughout the day because we have a road schedule, so that's cool. I like that. It's a nightmare to plan, but it's also really awesome, the benefits of not... And I don't see them every single day. So we have seven classes and we only see five per day, so it rotates that way. So there's that. And then when I'm actually looking at my lesson structure, so for each class, we'll start out with a warmup that's included in the curriculum, so it usually sets it up in some sort of way where if they're going to be doing ratios or proportions in the lesson, then we're remembering how to divide and work with fractions, things like that.
So I like how it approaches bringing those things. It's a true warmup. And then they have usually like two or three activities. They're supposed to be or 15 minutes each. It feels like it always takes longer and I don't know why. So I'll set them up with an activity. They're supposed to talk about it with their groups, but if it's just slightly too difficult, like maybe if that floor just isn't quite low enough for them to get on board, I see hands start to pop up all around the room and then of course, I want to engage them and go like, what's wrong, what's going on? And then somebody else will see, oh, she's talking to that group. Maybe she can help us. And all of a sudden there's only one of me and not enough to go around.
Jon Orr: And then you're running around.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah, exactly. And so the lesson's supposed to end with a cool down, which is provided and it's like an exit ticket thing where I could look at that. I feel like we never have to even get to the cool down. It's very rare because we're still stuck in the activities that I look at it and go, "Oh, this is great. I really like where this is going." And then it just doesn't really translate very well to this particular group of students. So I don't know.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. That's really interesting. And I think Jon and both have experience working with a similar, what we'll call it like a similar demographic of student in terms of ability, like students who have maybe struggled in the past, have low confidence when it comes to seeing themselves as a mathematician, that sort of thing. So we've definitely been down that path and it's sort of bringing us back to a lot of the struggles that we've had over the years. I'm wondering when you're getting into these tasks or this problem, like what's the style, is it from the illustrative math curriculum and how is it introduced? Is it like a word problem? Maybe you can even reference like an example you did recently and we can try to hone in on maybe a specific example, but obviously you don't have to know the problem word for word, but just in general.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. See, recently we did one with proportional relationships and it would be this particular one was like a word problem and it talked them through how to construct a table of values. And so I'm trying to think exactly how it was poised. It's been a couple weeks since we did this particular one, I don't know why it stood out in my mind, but it was about somebody who was at a carnival and he was walking away from the ticket booth I think. And so it getting them to think about the distance and the time and how that was a proportional relationship because when he started at the ticket booth, he was at zero, zero. And then thinking through like as time passes, he's getting further away.
And so then they would create that table. And then in a lesson, I think it was the next lesson or maybe the one after that, where we took those points and we were able to plot them on a graph.
Jon Orr: So when we think about that lesson, when you said the words, walk them through, what's happening there? Is it like, hey, this activity's on a piece of paper and then it's like, hey, the instructions say this. And that's what it is. And then you're bouncing around from small group to small group going, hey, can I clear anything up and can I help you here?
Aubrey McKelvey: Yes. In fact, I have my book here, so pardon me while I'm page flipping. But when I say walk them through, it's like it's got part A and part B to the problem and they're working in... The curriculum came with some paperwork books. I don't know if that's part of the problem because it's on paper already, but I thought that they were good to use because they have all the tables already... They don't have to also crosstalk. Yeah, it's a template, exactly. Yeah. So it's useful in that way. I don't know what the hangup is, obviously otherwise I would've fixed it by now, right?
Kyle Pearce: Yeah.
Jon Orr: Yeah.
Kyle Pearce: We've been there. We know it.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. Thanks.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. So I'm thinking like just what immediately pops into my mind. And again, it's based on, again, us taking that idea and reflecting on some of the things that we have typically done. We still do in some ways, and sometimes it comes down to, I think the nuances in how we use a certain material or a certain resource. And I know for many years, first of all, what I to do was I made kids copy a note and that didn't work very well. Like I didn't get engagement and I even got behaviors and things. So then I went to like the template and we have a resource.
We actually chatted with Shelley Yearley, who helped to create this resource here in Ontario called Tips. And we used that resource and it was super helpful. But we did notice that the way we were using that resource caused I think, a similar reaction or response from some of our students where it was almost like the way that we took it, and then we went, "Okay, now we're going to work on this thing and we're going to solve some problems too." I wonder if maybe the guidance, like almost like maybe too guided initially is actually causing the problem when immediately in your mind we think, well, they're not doing it because maybe it's not low floor enough. And maybe it's actually the opposite. I don't know. I know Jon, it sounds like you wanted to hop in there. What are you thinking?
Jon Orr: No, I was remembering your templates and when we were doing problem-based lessons to start, and then you having them, hey, we're going to walk through this first part of the activity. And then it's like, kids are writing it in and it sounds like Kyle referenced the tips, the tips documents here in Ontario. And it sounds exactly like with the way you just described what your activity would've looked like. And I think what happens with our students is even though you know this is walking them through this realization, by the time we complete this activity, you'll see that there's some value in the way we would do this type of math.
Like I inaudible to the shortcut or we're getting to why a lot of from the way ours was designed, it was always leading you to be like, oh, this is why we do the inaudible. Or, oh, now I can see benefit here of why we might collect inaudible, or why am I solving inaudible this way. It's related to the table. Like I can see lots of value in those templates, those documents. And then they have a resource to look back on as well later. I think what we changed once we broke away from the template a little bit is what Kyle and I have actually put our heads together about. This is like with some lessons went really well and some lessons say we're fell flat, like what you've described this.
No, not everyone's on board with really wanting to dig this. And what we stumbled across was that we needed to build the curiosity. And I think that's what our templates were missing. That's what the worksheets were missing is that kids are like, they realize that what we've just discussed already is that math is a get done subject and I'm going to have homework, so tell me the fastest way to do it, and then I will get it done, and then I will get my homework done and I'll be done. So no wonder they want to get there because that's the way they view math class. And so in order to break away from that, Kyle and I withhold lots of things.
We would give the template later, or we would give a modified version of that template. And what we would do is we would hold back some of the info. So we would take all the good parts of the math problem. And we might tell that story to the class, or we might make our slideshow have a piece of that problem. And this is where we got into noticing and wondering. Withholding some information allowed this anticipation. If you're watching us on YouTube, Kyle's showing the curiosity path, this is the way we named this pathway, which is built off lots of people's different ideas on how to generate curiosity in your math lessons.
It's like, we're used to giving everything up front, like worksheet or the textbook. And it makes sense. The textbooks and worksheets have to do that. When they make resources, they have no other way because they can't print a million pages. So they have to give you everything up front, but you don't have to present it up front, but it does mean you have to do some cutting and pasting or it does mean you have to withhold some stuff or sometimes we'd be like, you could even white out something. Usually what we do is put it up on the projector and it's just been covered up so that they only see the first part of the sentence and we'd even take part A away. It's like, okay.
But a lot of times we try to create this curious moment and it can be done with just the text problem. Kyle right now he is showing you a problem that was about maximizing the area of a rectangle. And what we did was like, we got to make this curious, we're going to strip the actual context away. We're going to strip this math problem, which probably was about like a pig pen and fence pieces to put in the way. And we would just say like, what do you notice, and what do you wonder when you watch this animation?
Or it could be just a statement about inaudible and what we do when you allow kids to venture down that pathway and say, hey, do you notice a wonder? Tell your neighbor, tell your elbow partner and then have a conversation with the big group. You're giving voice to the kids. You're allowing them to share ideas and it changes some of the dynamic, especially if you do this over and over and over again in your class. And we've often said that what happens is kids will get their foot in the door and then they're going to want to know more. I don't know if you want to speak to the curiosity part here, Kyle, I've jumped around a little bit.
Kyle Pearce: Well, no. And I think you've done a good job of sort of highlighting it. And one thing that comes to mind as you're saying that, Jon was like, and you had mentioned Aubrey, that you've used some like problem-based lessons and some Three-Act Math and Jon and I were doing that as well. But the part that I think we overly relied on two things was like one was pre-teaching. So like even the problem that you had described where it was almost leading students towards the idea of the lesson almost maybe too soon and what Jon and I would do, so we just shared the handle burning and we just shared the maximizing rectangle, the rectangle jumble that Jon had referenced.
And what we would do is instead of asking them what do they notice and wonder we would like give them this template, and it would be like off to the races we go. So it was like, even though we wanted students to be more interested in the math, it was almost like our actions were pushing them along too quickly where it was like, okay, now, we got to get to work. Here's this table that I've already created for you. I even was showing a PDF on the screen for some of you. This is an example of like what I would do for everything.
We would have this big template and that was on their desk from the start of the lesson. And that was what we worked with. Whereas now, and we're not saying you can never use a template, but it's almost like to give kids this opportunity... When we looked at the candle burning activity, you see the candle melting down and you see the wax melting down. What I would do is then give them a table and have them fill in, like in the next video, I'd have them fill in the time and the height of the candle versus let's just get them to estimate how long. And then after they do that, I'm going to give you some values, but I'm not going to give you a template. I want it to be messy. Just jot it down in your book and way you want.
Some kids are going to do it in a table automatically. Some kids are going to have it like a big jumbled mess. And it tells you a lot about what students are bringing with them and what they may have seen or not seen before by even just doing that process. And then I could be like, "Ah, you know what? This is a great moment for us to talk about the value of organizing something in a table or whatever it might be." So we're going to pause there and get your thoughts and maybe your reflections on what was just shared because it was a lot going on there. And I feel like Jon, you and I are going down memory lane here with a lot of our early challenges. I feel like you were us and we're still there trying to figure this out as well.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. Well, you're making me walked on memory lane too, because I had forgotten that at the beginning of this very unit that we're talking about with proportional relationships, I actually used, I think y'all called it Nana's chocolate milk. Does that ring a bell?
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, crosstalk.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah, and there was a video of it happening, like mixing the milk and oh no, I made the wrong recipe and I found it, I think it was on Desmos. Yeah, and they took it through some interesting questions. And honestly, I think that the kids were engaged with it and they had varying level of success. And what I mean by varying is I feel like everyone was successful. So I have some students who inaudible disabilities getting in my way, inaudible, or something like memorization based.
inaudible this problem and able to talk it out of like, oh, I know what we should do to fix this. And so they have those mathematical, the train of thought there, it's just a matter of accessing it and showing them actually you are thinking about math, you can do this. And I think that's so accessible and such a great message for them to see how their contexts are actually worthwhile in a problem like this.
Jon Orr: And if you think about that problem, like I'm looking also at the Desmos version, which is really what Kyle is showing. They put a clip into the Desmos version and which is really nice if you're say remote learning, or even if everyone has a device in front of them or one to two devices or one or two ratio. I think if you remember that problem, or if you slide the first slide, inaudible is just to watch the video and then just say, hey, what did Dan do wrong? That's what you did on his slide. And instead of like, that's like a notice and wonder. It's like, what do you notice here? inaudible chocolate milk, the chocolate, a certain chocolate in this and he made it wrong.
And then if you listen to what kids are saying, that right there, and having that discussion changes a lot inaudible the dynamic, a lot of the classroom feel of what is valued here in the room and the discussion is super important. But I think what it also does is this curiosity path. It's inaudible away all the math. There's no math happening right now. It's just, hey, what are we looking at? Dan inaudible come out wrong. Dan will be upset. And then it goes to the next slide which is kind of like, how could he fix it? It's like inaudible. It's like inaudible four scoops chocolate, and it's like, well, if he wants it to taste the same, how do I fix that? Do I put more milk in, more scoops? How do I make it taste the same? What's the ratio between that has to taste the same?
So it brings up this great discussion. But I think that Desmos says this a lot as well. They step through the math problem and Dan is actually famous for calling it the math dial. It's like a lot of times we would go into math class and just crank it up. And the math dial being like, when it's set at zero, there's no math, when it's set at 10, it's like it's math. It's like algebra. Whereas when we would walk into class, typically the way I used to do it in my old days, it would be like, we'd crank it right to seven. We're like, okay, where were we? Last night we were doing this for homework, and now we're going to just keep going. And it's like, boom, lesson than number two. Whereas the curiosity path and what Desmos has done on this particular problem is slowly turn the dial up.
And so by the end of the lesson, you are at seven or eight, but at the beginning you were at one, two, one, two, back to one. You're slowly building that process up. And I think when we give them that template, it's all math right off the bat. So it's like, we're tuning out were kids are like, "Okay, well, this is the way it is again, why don't you just tell me how to do this?" Because I feel like we're going to get there anyway instead of thinking about how do we slowly bring math into this problems.
Aubrey McKelvey: Absolutely. And I love how it's visually connected and they can try it and see that, oh, it's not the right color or the lines didn't line up on the double number line. And so I need to try again and it's low risk in that way, which is really a neat touch too.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. Something that's interesting to me, and I think it's really cool that they're giving this model and you can use this model, but part of me even wants to back up and get students to create this on their own and play and make these connections in a way. And I very rarely say this about anything I've seen in Desmos, because Desmos does a terrific job of pulling out some of this learning and this thinking. But it's almost to me, part of the big aha is this double number line that's going on there. And I almost feel like it's a bit almost given versus giving students this opportunity to really grapple with it.
Now, mind you as a teacher, we can make that happen. I could take this exact same lesson and I'm just going to hold off on slide three for a bit and I'm going to get kids estimating and trying to justify, and then maybe we go and try it in here and then see, hey, did some of our thinking come to be reality or truth. But I'm wondering, so now as you're thinking ahead and you're planning your next lessons tomorrow, we're recording this on a Thursday. So you got lessons tomorrow. Is there anything that's popping into your mind that you might be able to do in order to maybe hold off a little bit on some of that...
A couple things that pop out to me is I always pre-taught things. I gave too much too early. There is that withholding information piece. A template does that as well. Like if I give that too early, it's sort of like, okay, well this is what I got to get done. Jon mentioned this get done subject that math becomes, I got this template. It's like, all right, I just want to get this done so I don't have to do anything for homework or whatever. So how can we slow that process down a little bit and really get students talking with the caveat that we also have to keep in mind that if we are making these changes, students are going to probably do a little kicking and screaming initially. It's usually not like an overnight success, but anything that's popping in your minds that you're feel like you might be able to maybe alter or tweak based on what we've been discussing here?
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. I mean, it's definitely given me a lot of ideas. I think approaching the curriculum is like, I'm excited about it and this is going to be great. And it's ready to go, which relieves a pain point of when do we find time to create all these things as educators and find it and craft it in such a way which is probably a whole nother conversation, but that led me down the path of, well, I have this workbook for every student and so I probably should use it, but maybe I'm overusing it. Maybe I need to back up on the workbook and we don't just, everybody grab your workbook at the beginning of class because they know they're going to need it.
We don't dive in right away. Maybe we dive in to something that's more hands on or in Desmos or something like that with a video, with a notice of wonder where they can really think about the concept before we mathify it. And they don't know where we're going with it. They hold back on that, withhold key information to build that curiosity like y'all are talking about.
Jon Orr: Yeah, I think that would be a great step. I think you've got a good plan moving forward here because holding off on the workbook initially will be great. But bringing it in, like if it's something that you're piloting and you're going to need, I think the problems in there are probably good. And this is something that I think lots of people miss, or they think we're saying this and then it's like, now I have to ditch all my resources because I need to get on all videos. I don't think that necessarily has to happen. You can take that problem that was initially there in the workbook or on the template, and then you just want to ask yourself, what can I do to withhold some of this information? And then we'll generate some curiosity.
It's like, okay, let me phrase this. Let me bring this to them without handing them the booklet yet. And then what can I do to hold back some of that? So to generate some curiosity, to generate some discussion, generate some estimations around this problem and then allow them... Give them some more information after and then allow them to work and then bring the workbook in later to summarize, to connect, to show different solutions. I think that's where we've morphed from our early days of trying to engage kids into where we are now.
It's a lot of the times. All of our work is in the connect stage, but I think that resource you have has a place, it's just a little bit later. So I think you've got a good pathway here. Is there anything you want to leave with our listeners as like, this was your big takeaway today?
Aubrey McKelvey: Golly, I think this conversation is really helpful because I think you touched on it a minute ago where something's not working and there's a little bit of struggle and I'm not going to expect this to have perfect results on day one. But I know that if I stick with it, it's going to be a good thing and I don't have to scrap the curriculum. I can just tweak it a little bit more in such a way that it can work really well with the curiosity path as well. I think that that's going to be the thing that I mull over in my mind now, as I'm looking at my lessons going forward.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. And I'm thinking about breadcrumbs as sort of like what pops in my mind is like slowly bread crumbing it along. So what can I leave out and get them talking? And the earlier we get kids talking in the lesson, it's like you grab a hold of them. But if I wait for them to talk, the longer I wait, the harder it is. And then also when I give too much upfront too, it also starts to raise their spitey senses or oh, if I'm wrong, if I give them too much information, it's like now there's this chance of being humiliated.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. It's too risky.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, it's very risky. And it's almost like once they're talking and once you feel more comfortable, it's like when you go to a party where you don't know anyone and once you get talking and then, oh, now you're talking with two people and three and then a trust is built. And all of a sudden, by the end of the night, you're the rock star at the party because you're just slowly building that trust and that confidence. And I'm really curious if you're up for it. We'd love to check in with you, whether it's couple months from now, or maybe even a whole year, just to see how you're doing, feel free to check in with us and let us know how things are going. And we'd love to get back on here and keep digging deeper and see if we can evolve together and grow together to try to bring that curiosity into your classroom. And hopefully students start to see that beauty in math that you had mentioned earlier because it's there, it's just sometimes so hard to get students to maybe see it. And I think you're well on your way.
Aubrey McKelvey: Yeah. I would love to come back and chat with you more about this. I think building community and being able to collaborate like this is something that is totally my jam, so I'm into it.
Jon Orr: Awesome.
Aubrey McKelvey: Thank you.
Jon Orr: Definitely reach out. Thanks so much.
Aubrey McKelvey: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Kyle Pearce: Thanks. Have a great night and we'll chat soon.
Aubrey McKelvey: All right. Thank you. Bye.
Kyle Pearce: As always both Jon and I learned so much. I think Jon, you even mentioned it in the episode as we were chatting with Aubrey, we learn a ton by getting a chance to chat with members of the Math Moment Maker Community who are struggling with a pebble in their shoe. But here's the thing, we can learn a lot in this moment, but it will fade away like footprints in the sand if we don't do something to help us reflect on this learning and ensure that that learning stick. So what are you going to be doing at home?
Jon Orr: Yeah. And a great way to hold yourself accountable is you can write it down. Share with a partner, a colleague. We are going to encourage you though to head on over to the Math Moment Maker Community, and that's in our free private Facebook group, Math Lawmakers, K-12. It's also our Twitter account at Make Math Moments or our Instagram at Make Math Moments. That's the community. The community is you. So hit us up over there. We would love to hear what you've learned. What was your big takeaway?
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. And something you can do to really help us out is head on over to YouTube to the Make Math Moments page on YouTube and make sure you hit subscribe. Leave us a comment. Maybe give us a thumbs up because that will help us reach an even wider Math Moment Maker Community on YouTube. So do us that huge solid. And remember if you want some show notes, links to resources from this episode, as well as complete transcripts, head on over and visit our website, makemathmoments.com/episode165. That is makemathmoments.com/episode165. Well, until next time, Math Moment Makers, I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr.
Kyle Pearce: High fives for us.
Jon Orr: And high five for you.
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