Curriculum From the Future

We brought it back to the present.

In Back to the Future II, a movie that is distressingly old, villain Biff Tannen steals a time machine, travels decades into the future, buys a sports almanac, and becomes a casino baron back in the present by placing sure bets using that almanac.

Our team at Desmos did something very similar this last month.

✅ Stole a time machine.

✅ Traveled decades into the future.

❌ Brought a sports almanac back to the present. (We are both too nerdy and not mercenary enough for this.)

✅ Instead, we brought back the best middle school math curriculum we could find in the future.

You can preview all of it right now, no hurdles to clear. Much of it is also available to try out for free with students. This curriculum builds on and enhances the skillful work of the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum team.

My current favorite sequence of lessons teaches eighth grade students about equations using the context of hangar diagrams. It starts by inviting students to play and experiment. (Try it!)

Students then learn that a point in the plane has meaning—that one point defines two pieces of information: the weight of the triangle and the weight of the circle. (Try it!)

Then students learn that a point's position on one line, two lines, or zero lines also has meaning. Every point in the plane represents a different pair of hangars. (Try it!)

I realize that interactive digital experiences in math class aren't all that rare. What's uncommon here is the room we've made for both students and teachers to be creative in their work.

For students, we ask questions that have more than one right answer and where even the wrong answers are interesting. We don't try to fix the wrong answers. They’re interesting, and worth talking about as a class.

So we pass all of those answers on to their teacher, who mixes the responses together in the giant mixing bowl we call the Teacher Dashboard, sprinkling in some of her own knowledge, and creating learning experiences that are far beyond the ability of computers to replicate both now and even in the future. (Take our word on this—we were there!)

For me, this is the team-est of team efforts and also the best embodiment of ideas that have excited me for close to 20 years now. It’s the best thing I’ve ever had a hand in making, and I hope you will check it out.

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