The Fate Of Pirates

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Nov
  • 29
  • 2008

This one hit me really quick and I’m not even sure I’ve got this all correct, but I had to get this possibility out.

Dan’s been going on about this Rule of Least Power, something I’m not entirely sure I agree with (often, a Rule of Most Power seems more fitting). The idea is essentially to use as little as possible to communicate, leaving doors open and forcing nothing. In education, those doors left open steer students in the direction you need them to go. I do this far more often than I originally thought, but I’m still mulling the whole thing over.

Further plundering his site, I stumbled upon an image. I’d cut off the title because it communicates too much.

The Questions

  1. What do you notice? (the sad fate of the pirates)
  2. Why do you think that? (teeth and tentacles)
  3. Do the pirates know? (only one)
  4. How do you know one knows? How do you know the others don’t? (question mark for the one, while the others carry on business as usual)
  5. So what’s the story here?

From here, we start writing.

You could also try this by showing just the top half of the image, gathering information and making assumptions. Then reveal the bottom half of the image to see how the info changes. Finally let the class in on the title of the image and see if that adds anything else.

This is likely a short conversation, but enough of these and students become used to building in their own reason to care. They come into class looking for you to provide that reason because that’s what just about all of their other teachers have done, a huge mistake that starts early.


1. Dan Meyer says:

[12/4/2008 - 5:42 pm]

Okay, this is really really funny.

2. Todd says:

[12/5/2008 - 4:23 pm]

I decided “What the heck…” and went ahead with the idea on Tuesday. I did this with my Support class and the conversation went almost exactly as I predicted. The resulting paragraphs were about half good and half terrible. They are going to be used in getting students into groups for rewrites on Monday, a low paired with a high. Both paragraphs will have to be revised within 10 minutes. So there.