Come Join the Video Story Problems Channel

I’ve been not so secretly trying to experiment with video, “real world math”, and how to turn a mainstay of modern mathematics instruction (the story problem) into real life examples of how you can use even the most elementary, or complex math, in your everyday experiences. And as of yesterday, I’ve got some help! The awesome elementary teachers over at the Engaging Educator’s blog have started to submit their students’ video story problems to the Vimeo channel I created, with the promise of more teachers’ and students’ work to come!

While the concept of the video story problem is still very much a work in progress, there are a few basic goals that I’m striving to master. While I certainly don’t want to rely on any one “formula” for putting together a video story problem, I do have a small checklist that I’ve been forming for myself as I make new ones:

  • Put the question up front
    • In the spirit of Dan Meyers’ excellent TEDx Talk, I want the question, or the problem, to come first. I want the question to be up front, to try and peak learners’ curiosity, but I still find myself falling back into the usual format of presenting all of the extraneous information first, then getting to the question. I’m still struggling with this one.
  • Get to the point
    • While some of my video story problems are a bit long winded (I have a large ego that I need to learn to quiet), some of the new videos from Ben Curran and Neil Wetherbee of the Engaging Educator’s site are very succinct and to the point. Their students present a couple of quick bits of information, ask the question, and finish up nicely. If these things are going to be used in a classroom setting they need to be short and sweet.
  • Use the real world
    • This one is difficult for educators, especially those at the elementary level, because our lives are filled with all sorts of duties, responsibilities, and time commitments that make it hard to actually capture “real world” problems as they happen, and thus some of the videos appear artificial, much like the story problems in a text book (although that’s a good place to start the journey as it’s familiar territory). That’s one of the reasons that I carry my iPhone with me at all times AND have a hi-def video recorder in my backpack; just in case I’m walking to my car, or down the grocery aisle, I’m ready to observe and capture at a moment’s notice, without the need to frame the setup. I feel that real world examples of everyday math in action can have a huge impact in not just student engagement, but also in students’ understanding of the practical application of what they’re learning in ways that aren’t always easily dissectible and digestible, like many problems found in text books.
  • Keeping it simple
    • This is more of my own preference rather than a guiding principal, but I’m trying to do a lot of my most recent video story problems in one take, without much post editing and “fluff”. Most videos usually have a few text elements to give viewers something concrete to focus on, and I’ve found myself including the line “How do you setup the problem?” at the end of many of the videos. Again, I’m not sure if this is just replicating text-based story problems, but I’m still experimenting. As mentioned earlier, you ahve to start somewhere.

These are by no means the requirements that I would ask of anyone submitting video story problems to the Vimeo channel, but merely my take on the format based on my experience, and how I might use the videos in a classroom. Different teachers have different needs, and because of that, I’d LOVE to invite you to come experiment and participate with us! The more videos, information, examples, and styles that we have to process, the better we can figure out how to translate the routine and expected into “messy”, unexpected, real world examples of math. (Science inquiry videos are also welcome!)

From basic domino estimation to yarn & integrals, all areas of mathematics are welcome, especially those just starting out with the process as I am by no means a mathematics expert (my math teaching credentials only go up to 6th grade). I have a lot to learn, and I’d love to have you at the table helping me out!

Check out the Video Story Problem Channel on Vimeo HERE!


  1. It is amazing how much efforts you are putting in to catch the real life events as this can help the students a lot. Most of the things that we learn from the book hardly applied to the real life. So this can be a very good option to make the student aware regarding the reality of life.

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