Instant Pot, Lego Kits, and Teaching Together

Trying to cook with my new Instant Pot it brought up some thinking I wanted to share:

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Course Outlines:

Transcript of the Video:

So I consider myself a pretty good cook. After years of cooking for my family I feel like I can look in the fridge and whip up a pretty good stir fry or any other dish from scratch. So then I got this instant pot for Christmas….. And I felt like all my cooking instincts went out the window. I pretty much know how a frying pan works and my experience helps me determine how much time to cook the vegetables for so they’re not too mushy in the stir fry or I know how long to cook chicken in the oven so it’s not too dry, but this instant pot was a mystery. I had never used pressure cooker before…..I felt lost…Right now every time I cook with it I have to follow those mom blog recipes on Pinterest. Or the step by step recipes that come with it. I have no experience with how the timing works. I could cook dinners….but have no real understanding of how I did it!

It reminds me of the time I taught Accounting a couple of years ago. Here I am a math teacher with a bunch of pedagogical strategies on how to teach math that I love using….. Like I was with cooking I felt I was a pretty confident math teacher.  I wanted to teach that accounting class like I taught my math classes (great thinking happening, great discussions, kids struggle through concepts and we chat strategies; all the great stuff I know make kids better learners….but I felt that I couldn’t do that in the accounting class. I just didn’t know the content. I didn’t know the curriculum! I needed help and the only thing I felt like I could do was follow the step by step instructions in the teacher resource guide of the textbook. And there I was teaching accounting with not really knowing accounting…all because I was blindly following the steps.

It was so clear to me right then that Knowing the curriculum matters so much if we want to get creative with our course content quickly. It took me 8 years as a traditional math teacher before I felt I was comfortable enough to start playing around with different pedagogical strategies and deviating from the way the textbook ordered its units. Think about Lego too! If you want to just build lego go for it and try things out, build a masterpiece. Master lego builders spent a lot of time learning how the pieces fit together, And they did that by creating! Lego provides step by step kits so we can all build masterpieces but do we really know how to build that Death Star? Or Lego Friends dream house? I felt like I was just good at following instructions.

When we start our math lessons off with “today we will learn about the Pythagorean theorem” and then write this thing on the board and go through examples we are just giving kids the Lego Step-by-step guide, or the instant pot recipe book. And I now have to wonder, “Are they like me with the instant pot?” It looks like they know what they are talking about but do they really understand? I have to dig deeper, I have to get more info.And I believe teaching through problem solving is one of the best ways to get that information from our students.

Letting students work through problems through their own strategies shows me so much thinking. It’s then that we can consolidate as a group to share each others strategies or I can present new ones if needed. It’s a journey! And it’ll take time for our students to become great thinkers.

Like our students we too are learning through problem solving. We’re problem solving right now how best to teach our students. We’re learning by doing. And sometimes it takes a guide to show a strategy or a different way of doing things for us to go “aha!! Then our minds change. It’ll take time for us to become better. As a beginning teacher I thought I needed a plan to follow so that I could become comfortable with the curriculum. I thought I needed a plan to follow when I started teaching accounting for the first time. What I really needed was more people to talk to so that I could become comfortable with the curriculum and classroom management, and schedules, and assessment, and learning styles, and more and more. My first plan was the textbook and my first people were my math department.

Now there are many plans we can start with, many plans we can learn from and adapt as we grow. But let’s not follow those plans blindly like I followed the accounting teacher resource guide or how absent mindlessly I follow the instant pot recipes. Let’s interact with the creators of those lesson guides, let’s figure out what works best in our classrooms for our students.

You can download my course plans if you want a starting place. But then let’s not let that interaction stop there. Let’s continue the conversation. Let’s adapt those plans together.  Join me over on Facebook or on Twitter or in the comments below to connect. We can do this better together.

By the way I joined a facebook group to learn how to cook with the instant pot…so that soon I’ll be able to create my own dinners with it.

Course Outlines:

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