In a recent thread on Mastodon I was talking with Ben Leis and Tim Ricchuiti about instructional materials and I mentioned that I basically create everything I need from scratch rather than use materials that already exist. The conversation got me thinking about the challenge of creating instructional materials that can be shared.
It certainly does require a lot of work to create my own instructional materials, but it’s work I enjoy. And it really doesn’t occur to me to do it any other way. No instructional materials exist that can properly leverage the collective strengths of our classroom, so I just create materials that do.
As a result, these materials work very well for me but wouldn’t necessarily work well for others. For example, a recent lesson I wrote starts with the following question for students: “What does a ≈ b mean?” I know exactly what I want to happen as a result of that question. I have a sense of how student discourse and collaboration will unfold, and I know how the answer (and the work leading up to it) fits in the development of ideas from intuitive notions of “infinitesimally small” which arose the first day of class to the notion of “arbitrarily close” and the epsilon-delta definition of limit. And as a teacher I know how to manage the action and close the gaps when necessary.
But I doubt that same question (and the same supporting lesson materials) would work for another teacher. Of course anyone can teach this idea in this way, but the instructional design is so tailored to my context that I’m not sure how useful my materials would be to someone else.
You can see the entire thread on Mathstodon here.