Profound Impact

Here is my belated (and going to be short) Round 3 blogging initiative post — where we share our favorite post(s) from other bloggers.

To be truthful, this year I’ve been totally negligent on the #MTBoS front. I stopped checking in on twitter. I stopped checking in on Feedly. I stopped blogging regularly. And that’s okay because the #MTBoS is there for us when we need it, and it is there when we don’t. I make it a point to engage as long as it comes naturally, as I am compelled, and as I have time. This year I haven’t had much time. But I’m slowly realizing how much I need it — for personal reasons to stay invigorated — and so I’m making time. All of this prelude is to say that I haven’t been reading blogposts lately.

So I started thinking: what blogposts have had the biggest impact on my teaching?

 

I’ve had three major moments in my teaching that have pushed me forward as a teacher by leaps and bounds. The “small steps” mantra works, but you only get incremental improvement. There are three things I’ve done that have changed my teaching radically, for the better.

  1. Deciding to put my desks into groups, instead of pairs. I just made the leap — recognizing that all the changes that I would need to make as a teacher would be things I would naturally have to do to adjust for having kids working together, instead of individually and in pairs. This was huge.
  2. Writing my own curricula from scratch. Whole courses. Dropping the textbook. I did this for calculus, for advanced geometry, for advanced precalculus, and I’m doing this now for standard precalculus.
  3. Doing a few years of Standards Based Grading in standard calculus.

Although I’m not teaching standard calculus anymore, so I’m not doing Standards Based Grading (SBG), I would have to credit the #MTBoS more than anyone else for taking the leap. As a result, I totally rethought the meaning of grades, and in turn, the meaning of what I do, and what I should prioritize as a teacher. It was a huge shift. And a huge amount of work.

Instead of waxing euphoric, looking back with rose tinted glasses, you can read all my posts about SBG here.

But I wanted to shoutout the blogpost which got this percolating in my brain. Dan Meyer. 2006. “How Math Must Assess.

math

I also wanted to link to Shawn Cornally’s blog, because it kept me thinking deeply about SBG and the larger questions around the philosophy, but it seems to have disappeared! One last shoutout goes to Matt Townsley (his old blog, with lots of posts on SBG, is here). I am grateful that there was such a buzz and an ongoing set of conversations about SBG in the #MTBoS as I was trying it out, because the devil is in the details, but so are the angels.

So there you go. Profoundly impactful blogposts that changed my teaching.

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