Perplexity Drives Productivity

I think about the question mark every time I teach a lesson.  I’ve been so carefully to get to this point. Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.18.57 PM

Yet sometimes my question mark comes from a path that looks like this.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.29.56 PM

The opening part of the lesson is over and the work session is well underway.  It’s the time when I lose kids or they preserver to the point of productivity.  It’s really tough to make a teaching move that helps save my question mark.  The question mark is my next move.

I try not to corner myself.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.30.17 PM

Knowing this time would come, I trust the task.  The tasks I choose determine the path of my question mark and where the learning will go?  If my question mark comes from a spiral pattern, I have a lot of backtracking to save it from Davey Jones’ Locker.  It’s where my lessons go to die.

In every lesson there are instances that separate the constructive and destructive struggle. You can see students cross from one box to another.  Lots of times, lessons end up being destructive because students don’t care to preserver (most of the time it’s my fault).  If I ask students to continuously engage in tasks that require assimilation they become bored (my fault again).

A big thanks to Dan Meyer for the perplexing introduction to perplexity. 

Perplexity and disequilibrium are extremely similar, yet I see them as totally different in terms of engaging students.  I try to never let the disequilibrium be destructive.  I do that by purposefully constructing disequilibrium through a perplexing situation.

Disequilibrium is uncomfortable.  Perplexing is a challenge or puzzle.

Perplexity stems from non-routine.  Since perplexity has made its way into my teaching practice, productivity has found its way into my classrooms.  Manipulatives and modeling with mathematics are required because students need them to make sense of non-routine problems.  Non-routine means that students are placed in a state of perplexity and unfamiliarity.

Dan Meyer and Robert Kaplinsky have spoken at length about unfamiliarity and where explicit teacher moves are pivotal in keeping students engaged in mathematics. Choosing the right tasks, such as 3-Acts and OpenMiddle, empower me to better control which box my question mark will go to next.

Where do the tasks you choose take your students?

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.17.18 PM

About gfletchy

K-8 math consumer trying to listen and learn each day. Stay thirsty my friends!
This entry was posted in 3-Act Tasks, Intellectual Need, Modeling, Patient Problem Solving, Planning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Perplexity Drives Productivity

  1. robertkaplinsky says:

    I am intrigued by this 2 x 2 grid you’ve made. I feel like I don’t understand it as well as I want. Do you have any posts where you go deeper into it? Maybe you can show some problems and what the graph of that problem might look like? At this point, just looking at the shape of the graph doesn’t make it obvious whether it is bad or good.

    • gfletchy says:

      Thanks for the feedback Robert. This is definitely a new idea I’m playing with, so they’ll be lots of overhauling and fine tuning before it’s all said and done. Your suggestions would definitely help paint a much clearer picture as I can how the graph can mislead people from my intended vision. I’ll be back!

  2. alligevel says:

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thanks, However
    I am having issues with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am
    unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS
    issues? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond?

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