I cheated and got caught! Bottom line, no ifs, ands, or buts…I cheated.  Some teachers were high-fiving, others were frustrated, some disappointed, and I was happy.  Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t happy that I cheated, it was the reason why I cheated. I was attending a workshop in my district that was hosted by Dr. Robyn Ovrick from the University of Georgia. What a great day!

Robyn and I attended a workshop 2 weeks ago hosted by Dan Meyer. The workshop was on patient problem solving using the his 3-Act approach.  If you’ve never heard of Dan before you definitely want to check out his blog http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=346.  The manner in which he implements patient problem-solving to create an intellectual need is something I have really made a commitment to improve within my own instruction for the past 2 years.  I’d like to think I have done a good job creating an intellectual need in my students, however I have never myself been in a class where patient problem-solving was taking place and I was a student… until 3 weeks ago and again yesterday.

How many cases of soda?

Robyn did a great job creating an intellectual need with everyone in the class as she engaged us in the task Soda Santa from Yummy Math. She only showed the above picture for 1 minute then had 45 teachers come up with what they wanted to know.  How many cases? was the most frequent question.  The only problem was that while teachers were sharing their questions the picture was removed from sight and replaced with this one below.soda santa 2

And this is where I cheated!  Sure I could have drawn all the lines and counted the of cases of soda but that would have been torture for me personally.  There were groups that found the total number of cases by drawing the grid while others partitioned Santa’s face into arrays, one of which was me and my group. We all used estimation  throughout the task and became fully engaged in reasoning abstractly and quantitatively but also constructing viable arguments to prove we each had the right solution, although most were different.  This went on for about an hour but we all dove into the SMPs like I had never done before because of estimation and my intellectual need to find out how many cases made Santa’s noggin. So as conversations were happening throughout the classroom I went into my best ninja mode (or so I thought) and maneuvered over to Robyn’s computer to see the original picture and I was busted.  

Robyn: “What are you doin’?

Me: I just wanted to know how many case wide the base of Santa is?

Robyn: Get back to your table!

Robyn and I are good friends but I still felt like a third grader getting in trouble from the teacher.  I could have walked over to another group that drew the grid to get the solution but we wanted to know a piece of information to find the answer ourselves.  Robyn created the intellectual need that Dan Meyer mentioned….and it was strong!!!  Immediately after my apprehension, the required information was released and the answer was discussed and shared.  I have never seen so many teachers high five because they got the right answer.  I asked myself…do my students high-five when the get the right answer?

Thanks Robyn, Dan and Yummy Math for making me smarter!!!  Unfortunately I was not able to high five on this occasion but I really wanted to be one of those students.  But then again, it wasn’t my fault I cheated because we shouldn’t have been discussing Santa in September.  That the retailers job!