Monday, April 15, 2013


I used 101qs with my students as a warm-up activity this week. 101qs is the brain-child of Dan Meyer. It's basically a website where people upload videos and images which others view to determine whether or not they are complex or perplexing. By asking questions and submitting them, people help the individual images/videos gain popularity, or not. If you don't like an image, just click on the "I'm bored" button and go to the next. If you have a question, submit it and see what others asked about the same image or video.

Here's a sample of what popped up today:

My first question is, "When is 150 years from now?" followed up by, "How much money would one need to retire 150 years from now?" and lastly, "Is this a true statistic?" Some of these are "solvable" and others are what I would call "wonder-able" or "guess-able". What questions does this image create for you?

You may be tempted to see these as merely mathematical problems (which they absolutely are), but they really lend themselves to perspective taking, inferencing, context clues, language development, critical thinking (e.g. what may be missing to actually be able to solve a problem), and how to formulate questions. It's a great opportunity for teachers (and parents) to introduce the idea of "thick vs. thin" questions (i.e. those that garner a yes or no answer, versus those that actually require a thoughtful response). The list of applications is really infinite.

The site is fully searchable, by grade level or keyword, and some of the images and videos even have common core lessons attached to them.

You need not be a teacher to use this site, and in fact, I encourage parents to do so. You may be amazed at the discussions that it can generate between you and your child or teen. I was blown away by some of the questions that my students asked this week about this image:

Can you imagine what some of them may have been?

Visit 101qs today. It isn't just for kids! Also, don't forget about Wonderopolis, a site I first mentioned a few weeks ago. Combine the two, and you'll have an interesting way to spend time chatting about things you never imagined!

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