Engage your students with an interactive photo

Dan Meyer emphasizes that students should be abstracting in math class.  When we present a formula and then talk about a situation in which it would be useful, we’ve done all the abstracting.  Instead, Dan suggests, let’s just give the students a situation and ask an interesting question about it.  He’s collected a bunch of interesting photos and videos at 101qs.com – check it out!

I wanted to help teachers get this done.  Dave Major made a neat proof of concept for some full lessons, but I shot for just the opener.  You can use this new mini-app to get your class started, and then the rest of the structure is up to you and your teaching skills.

If you have any programming chops, or if you want to get some for yourself, please check out the source code from github and make improvements.  I have a lot of ideas for what this could become, and I want to help you make it better.  This is not connected to ActiveGrade in any way (except the temporary name) so I won’t be able to dedicate the time it (might) deserve.  Please help!

Go here for the app: http://activeprompt.herokuapp.com .  Warning: I expect it to work. I haven’t tested it. Have a backup plan in class.  Warning 2: There is no security whatsoever in the app.  Anyone can delete everything at any time.  Probably no one will.

Go here to help make it better: http://github.com/rileylark/activeprompt .  Even if you have no tech skills, you can help with design, ideas, or by coming up with a good name!


13 thoughts on “Engage your students with an interactive photo”

  1. Awesome work, Riley!

    When I get a free second, I’ll try to fork & add a couple features (maybe a blue dot that at the class average position? or a way to capture quantitative or qualitative input from students?)

  2. This looks pretty cool. One comment I noticed is that if you zoom in on the page, the dots don’t place properly anymore. Not sure what that would be other than a different scaling.

  3. Love it.
    I teach science as well as maths. As a practice I uploaded a world map with tectonic plate boundaries and asked students to drag the dot where volcanoes might occur.
    Not quite in keeping with the “abstraction” theme, but showed me that a simple app could have a million uses.

  4. I downloaded the source code, and then realized it was in Ruby, which I do not yet know (and do not have time now to learn) and so I wrote my own version of Activeprompt in PHP. See http://davidwees.com/activeprompt/.

    I’m hoping to mock up useful features. I started by adding a gallery, so you can see what other people are using – I hope to add the ability to log in, bookmark prompts, share prompts, and clone prompts. I’d prefer to be working on the same set of code, but my ignorance of Ruby is too much of a hindrance in this case. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve cloned your work.

    1. Mind?! I love it!

      I’m sure my code is terrible code to learn Ruby from anyway – I didn’t know Ruby or Rails before starting. My programmer friends were starting to make fun of me, so I took a stab at making a quick app 🙂 There was definitely a significant learning curve – if I wasn’t stuck at the airport waiting for a delayed flight I never would have found the time 😉

      Maybe we can isolate the javascript and run it like a plugin on both platforms. Hmmm…

      Thanks for hacking! I hope you’ll share the source code.

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