Peregrine Falcon – Fastest Animal Alive

I need your help…..

I modified this video originally from Vox for a colleague and her math class.

Could you watch this short video on peregrine falcons with your students….

and then Complete these tasks?

1. What do you notice? What do you wonder?
2. What questions will you work on with your students? Work on them.
3. You can watch the full video here to see/hear un-bleeped values.
4. Take pictures of any thinking your students show you. Send me comments & pictures on Twitter, email, or here.

I’ll update the post with your student’s work.



Formative Assessment & 3 Act Math Tasks

This post references the 3-act math task structure. If this is unfamiliar to you read about it here from Dan Meyer, and here from me.

A common question I get about using 3-act math tasks from teachers is “How do you assess that?” And I’ve found it’s both hard and easy to answer this question mostly because for the last few years I’ve felt like I’m ALWAYS assessing! 

Let me explain.

“3-act tasks are formative assessment machines.” They’re naturally structured to give you the teacher rich information about your students understanding and knowledge.

From Wikipedia,

Formative assessment is, “a range of formal and informal assessment procedures conducted by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment.”

Keys words: “during the learning” and “modify teaching

When I first started teaching I asked about the difference between formative and summative assessment. I was told to think of it like: formative assessments were quizzes and summative assessments were unit tests. Both of which were marks that got recorded in a markbook. It was like the going mantra was, “Why are we marking it if I’m not going to count it?”. I’ve grown to believe that formative assessment isn’t just a packet/booklet/worksheet/homework/quiz that we count or don’t count for marks…..Formative assessment should inform us.  It should give us information to use to help craft our next instruction.

3-Acts and Formative Assessment

A teacher while observing one of my lessons commented: “Wow! Your students were so engaged during that task with the movie.” Most teachers I see are seeing 3 act tasks as a way to engage our students. In my opinion thinking that the power of 3 act tasks starts and ends with student engagement greatly undervalues the task structure. As a teacher you can learn so much from what your students show you during those first two acts. You just have to listen.
Those acts are all about assessing where you students are and designing, on the fly, where to go next!! And I totally I agree, That is definitely hard! It’s hard to plan to be flexible.

“plan with precision so we can proceed with great flexibility.” – Tom Schimmer

Act 1 is about  Being curious, Wondering, Estimating, and being informal. Listen to their estimates. Insist on having students share their reasoning. Don’t let them off the hook when they say “I just guessed”. You gain valuable feedback on their ability to use our Mathematical Processes. Listening to their reasoning will give you insight into possible strategies they will use when solving the problem. It will help you prepare on the fly possible scaffolding questions to push your students thinking.
Act 2 is for watching what your students do. This is your chance to carefully craft a plan. What strategies did you see? What strategies need to be shared and discussed? What strategies didn’t see and need to be introduced and modelled? For me, gone are the days where I develop a “lesson plan script” that I follow for the first 25 minutes of class. I need to know where they are before proceeding.

Let’s consider the proportion problem Turbo Texting (See the whole lesson here). See the act 2 video below.

Have a look at the student work after showing act 2.

What do you see? What information does this tell you? What would you ask this student?
Does the student know why they divided? Do they know what the 0.1125 means? Can they interpret to see who is faster? How can you use this to help craft your instruction when you bring the class back together?

Then when you see this answer, it’s clear that they knew how to interpret their calculation, but also informs you that you’ll need make sure both of these solutions are shared to the class. A great class discussion can occur here on how each solution shows who is faster and why we would want to find each rate.
Without allowing your students try their own strategy here in Act 2 it is most likely that both of these calculations would never have popped out. It’s allowing your students to show what they know that allowed for this discussion to happen.
Or take this example from the popcorn pandemonium task (read here first). View Act 2 here:

and a student’s thinking,

and another,

If the learning goal is to “Connect various representations of a linear relation” then seeing this strategy from our students allows us to take what they know and connect it to something new! We should build on their understanding not dismiss or overrule it. This can be powerful in their learning process. But without seeing their thinking first you wouldn’t know exactly what to build onto. To help our students the most we should be continually assessing where they are and where they need to be then design our instruction to make that happen. 3 Act tasks are amazing structures to assist you in this journey, they’re not just videos to engage your students……they’re so much more than that. Go ahead…… plan with precision.

Further Reading.


Road Trip – MEL3E Day 9

Today’s warm up we played the game of NIM. I started this off by saying “I’m the undisputed champion of Southern Ontario on the game we’re going to play. I’ll give $10 to any player who beats me!!” I put down the bill on the table!

Game of NIM in our classroom:

There are two players. There are 21 sticks in a pile. Players take turns. A player can choose to take 1 or 2 or 3 sticks from the pile. The player that takes the last sticks wins!

Easy enough game? My students thought so and were eager to win $10. I played 2 rounds each with a different student in front of the class. They couldn’t believe that I had won both times at such an easy game. I let them in on the secret so they could go off and play and win against their friends or parents.


If you can leave your opponent with a multiple of 4 …you win….so with 21 sticks you can always win if you go first.

Next up we are switching strands to Travel and Transportation. I started with having them split their whiteboard down the middle. On one half they wrote “I notice”. On the other side they wrote the heading “I wonder”.

I showed this short clip and asked them to write down anything they noticed and anything they wondered.

I gave them 2-3 minutes to write down their noticings and wonderings. Next they had 2 minutes to share that with their partners. Then they shared with the group. At first they were pretty shy to share with the group….but once we got rolling…….they wondered a lot!!

I explained that the “oh no” in the video was said because driving to SF looked super long! We had a great lengthy discussion about travelling by car. A few stories from me and also from them! The list of wonderings they generated will fuel our work for this part of the course! We will come back to driving costs and owning a vehicle costs next cycle…..this time around we’re going look at travelling by Air, Bus, Train. We’ll read schedules, learn about time zones, and read 24 hour clocks.

Today’s focus –and as it turns out Monday’s too– was on air flight. We broke out the iPads and looked up flights to SF. I handed out a recording sheet.


Most students hadn’t searched sites like Expedia or Travelocity before so we went slowly. We’ll resume this activity on Monday and we may get to doing some problems with the World Clock and the 24 hour clock.


2 weeks done! Happy Friday!


Angular Velocity, Trig Whips & Elmo

The #MTBOS is an amazing group of dedicated generous teachers!! This lesson came together because teachers are happily sharing what they are doing!

Generating Curiosity!

Dan Meyer has a series of blog post on Developing the Question you need to read. In one example he uses this video below to spark student wonder and start a fight. I copied his plan on how to use the video to generate discussion on speed.
Show this video

Pause the video before the bike is revealed and have students wonder “What is going on here?, What could the dots be?” Let the video play and then ask them to rank the dots from fastest to slowest. This is where wonder will happen. Are dots B and C moving at the same speed? What do we mean by speed anyway? Enter angular velocity vs. linear velocity.
FullSizeRender 20

An Example for Linear Velocity vs. Angular Velocity

Show them this video obviously fake but fun video to generate some discussion.

Main Question we looked at together:How fast is the top swimmer moving when he hits the water? How fast is his angle changing? Before we calculate any of these we’ll go and experience the difference between the two.

Experience the Change

Bob Lochel has a great activity called Trig Whips where in groups of 4 students will experience the difference between angular velocity and linear velocity. Read about it!
A few pics and videos of our class Trig Whipping!

Whole Class


We came back in and summarized our findings from Bob’s handout. We made it clear that everyone had the same angular velocity but we all had different linear velocities. We turned our attention back to the diver video and determined the angular velocity and linear velocity of the top diver.



That’s where class ended! Tomorrow we’ll start off with….

Andrew Stadel’s Elmo Problem!

See all the resources from Andrew here
Tomorrow we’ll find Elmo’s ending position after the 1 minute, angular velocity and linear velocity.