Monday, June 11, 2012

3 Act Presentation to K-8 staff

Last week I presented to the K-8 staff at my school about using Dan Meyer's 3 Act Lesson format with their students next year. My principal requested I do this about a week prior.

The initial sit-down with my principal went something like this:
Principal: I'd like for you to present to the staff about the 3 Act lesson format you've been using this year.
Me: Really?
Principal: I think our school can get a lot of mileage out of it.
Me: Sure, I'd be honored to. When? (please don't say tomorrow)
Principal: Next week at our staff meeting.
Me: Okay (gulp)

In between countless other responsibilities, I spent about a week putting the Keynote presentation together and practicing. The last thing I wanted to do was bore, scare, or upset anyone on staff. Especially if I plan to show something as lovely as this to them.
From McDougal Littell Algebra 2 (2007)
I really wanted to do the 3 Act lesson format justice. Besides the fact I said, "umm" a hundred times, I feel the presentation went rather well. I captured it on video so check out the video presentation.

With blogging, I've found it easier and more constructive (I think) to stick to 3 solid points/goals/objectives. For the presentation, my goals were to:
  1. Convey my enthusiasm, passion, and excitement for 3 Act lessons
  2. Do Dan Meyer's 3 Act lesson format justice via applicable examples
  3. Generate some interest
Enthusiasm. It felt very effortless to convey my enthusiasm and excitement for these types of lessons. I hope I was able to convey this in the video. I'll admit, I reviewed a few of Dan's presentations, including his TED talk and this recent presentation. Dan sells his stuff and ideas really well in my opinion. I don't feel I need to reinvent the wheel and gladly found myself referencing some of his examples, ideas, or sayings. I mean this with all sincerity and respect: Why try and find a new way to sell it, if it's been effectively delivered before? Furthermore, I have no personal or monetary gain by presenting. Students can be the beneficiaries here.

Justice. I hope from the video that my work does Dan's work justice. This can only be determined by the viewer or attendee. There were some strong points. The message was conveyed. I'm not a professional speaker (hence all the 'umms'), and I mainly recorded this to make improvements in the classroom or in case I ever find myself doing presentations in the future. I had to email Dan and ask for some feedback. It felt like the right thing to do. He was spot on! Dan recommended I place the basketball clips before the iPad answers during the Act 3 payoff segments. Great tip! This really did generate a sense of understanding and closure.

Interest. Generating interest can be tough, especially when presenting at the end of the year to both multiple-subject teachers and non-math single subject teachers. Furthermore, it's a staff meeting, enough said, right?
Many teachers left the meeting quickly, which is to be expected. I wasn't sure if I hit my mark, generated any interest, or bothered them. However, the next morning about eight teachers emailed me with interest. Furthermore, many of them noted how passionate I am about this and for some, even inspiring. That made my day! I also had some teachers in English and Social Sciences expressing interest. Cross-curriclar 3 Act lessons? Woah! This week I'm meeting with those teachers who are interested to see how we can possibly incorporate 3 Act lessons into their curriculum next year.

Lastly, the highlight of the presentation was from a kindergarten teacher. She showed her class File Cabinet - Act 3 and her student asked, "What about the bottom?" The kindergartner teacher continued to say that they actually tried to calculate (estimate) the stickies on the bottom. I find this amazing for two reasons: First, the level of abstract thinking by a kindergartner is astounding. Secondly, the teacher allowed her class to explore this question with her students, applying Geometry standards with her kindergarten class.



  1. If my kids were getting you and Dan mixed up before, they really can't tell you apart now if they saw this video.

    You hit a homerun on this presentation, Andrew. I never doubted your enthusiasm for 3Act lessons, but you nailed the key points of why we should get on board with teaching and learning in ways that are engaging, fun, and worthwhile.

    Is the % lesson yours then? I love it! And now I'm thinking of other shapes, like trapezoids, parallelograms, triangles, even solids! I'm pretty sick of typical circle/pie graphs, and your rectangle question made me think of what a great way to get areas of other polygons in along with learning about percentages! More importantly, each % piece is an interesting fact itself (iPad uses) -- so many possibilities!

    And no, I didn't notice your "umms" at all until you pointed them out. Please, it's all part of natural speech; you're not a robot. (But, ummm... those look like church pews. My presentation would burst into flames if I spoke. Just saying.)

    Concise, well-delivered talk, Andrew. Talk about firing on all cylinders, buddy. Love it! Thank you for sharing.

    1. I'll take that confusion as a compliment. Hopefully Dan does too. If not... not sure what to say.
      Thanks for the kind words on the presentation. Yes, the iPad lesson is mine: an infographic I found online and was so happy to see percentages represented differently than a pie chart. The iPad lesson surely can pack a punch. I like your idea of using percents with different polygons and solids. Solids would be crazy cool! Thanks again!

  2. Nice job! I'm impressed that you put yourself out there in front of your colleagues! (many of whom are math-phobic). Thanks for being brave and for sharing!

    1. Thanks for your kind words Elaine. There were definitely some parts I was apprehensive about, but my excitement and enthusiasm for the 3 Act lesson format squashed any of that nonsense. I was honored to have the floor and wanted to do the best I could.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your presentation. I am so excited about incorporating 3 Act lessons into our curriculum this year. I am planning to share your video with my middle school colleagues, as there is nothing I could say better than you already have! Also, we are getting a set of IPADS for the math classrooms so I was particularly interested in that example.
    With much appreciation,
    Chris F

    1. Right on, Chris. Thanks for the feedback and kind words. I wish you the best of luck with the iPads next year. I'm definitely curious to see how other teachers are integrating them. Keep me posted!