Blogging/Twittering

Start Of Year Edition: Even More Things I Want To Highlight From Twitter

A few months ago, I had “liked” so many tweets but I wanted to archive them somewhere so I wouldn’t forget them. So I wrote a post. I don’t have too much time, but I want to do that again. [Update: Okay, I might have spent a few hours compiling this. But I’m so glad I did.]

***

A lot of people use four 4s as a way to get kids thinking. I liked this idea of having a sheet and kids using post it notes to fill in the missing ones. It’s compact. I might use the small post-its, and have kids use a different color post-it if they have a different solution than the one posted. It might be good to keep in a public hallway for everyone to work on, or maaaybe in my classroom (if a group finishes something way before everyone else but I don’t want them moving on yet). But four 4s is all over the web, so I might need to change it to 5s or 6s. :)

pic1.png

Ummm. Oh, okay, @mathequalslove had a tweet which showed she already thought about how to create a first day activity around this, along with amazing facilitation notes. Yay!

***

@abel_jennifer tweeted out saying she was going to be bringing math kids on a (multi-day?!) field trip to NYC and wanted to know what mathy things kids could do here. Many people responded, and so she compiled the responses in a google doc. I never take my kids on field trips. I should. (Maybe as a reward for completing the four 4s challenge?!)

***

@stevenstrogatz linked to Harvey Mudd’s math department goals. It’s beautiful and shows they worked collaboratively to generate a shared vision. Our department has done this too, though we need to refer back to it and see where our strengths and weaknesses are so we can move forward.

pic2pic3

***

@mrdardy shared his geometry curriculum with someone looking to explore new ideas for their class. He shared the book he wrote with them [which I highly recommend checking out!]! And in that folder, he has an awesome short paper he writes called “How to Succeed in Geometry.” However it is soooo not specific to geometry. It’s amahzing and most of what he writes is true for my kids also. I should look at this when revising my course syllabus this year!

***

@zimmerdiamonds posted a nice open-middle problem that I think I could use this year with my new Algebra II class.

***

@Caitlyn_Gironda gave a presentation on making AP calculus more engaging, and she shared her slides, but also a set of folders filled with great activities! Because she’s aweeeesome. I need to look through these before teaching my (non-AP) calculus class this year!

***

pic4

I love this question. The activity is here. I could see it being used for a first day challenge. I wish there were like 10 of these, instead of just one, with different “levels.” That probably exists somewhere. Ooooh, or maybe after kids do this, they create their own to challenge other kids. This could be a groupwork task, where at first they solve this together… but then the work together to create something complicated that stymies other groups! <3

***

I always forget where I can find desmos activities made by other teachers. It’s the desmos bank. The link is here: https://sites.google.com/site/desmosbank/

***

@mathycathy posted how she had some students’ desmos projects printed on canvas to hang up in her room. It shows her kids how much pride she has in their work! But more importantly to me, she shared her project, which is kids making a pet house in desmos. The activity builder for it is thoughtful and kids learn about lines just by playing with them! I think I could modify this to add in other kinds of graphs (parabolas, square roots, etc.) for Algebra II.

pic5.png

***

@cljreagan posted a problem she used in her precalculus class on the first day.

pic6.png

I wonder if I could do this for my standard Algebra 2 kids, actually?! Start with them working with whatever approaches they could come up with, individually. Then after a minute of individual thinking, they share their thoughts with their group. Then the group works together. Then finally, graphing! And a discussion about why the graph might look crazy in the places that it does!

***

 

 

A terrific teacher: is, says, does, does not.

I think I might want to do this for a terrific student also. The teacher I look up to most in my building does something like this as a way to build class norms. This wouldn’t involve the refining and consensus building that she asks for, but I might use it anyway. I could transcribe them into a draft teacher poster, and then talk about ones that might be problematic for me (based on either who I am, what I can do, or things I philosophically disagree with) and be transparent about those things. And then I can have kids look and see if there are anything on the draft student poster and see if there are similar things they want to discuss/refine/change. Then I can create a final version to hang up.

***

This idea. It reminds me of something I used to do called “Path to Glory” (which I heard about so long ago and I don’t remember from whom…) where I asked kids to fill out a 10 question True / False test … but they weren’t given the questions. They just had to fill out the answers.

Then they all stood up. And then I read the questions and kids decided whether it was true or false, and then those who got it wrong sat down. And we’d continue on the PATH TO GLORY (the last person standing).

I always incorporate this on the last day of my calculus classes, and the T/F questions are questions about the kids in the class or me. It’s cute, and I think special to me. Because it shows my kids I know them and listen to them, and it’s a community closing activity. (It could be a community building activity too.)

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

***

@eulersnephew posted a google doc with a ton of amazing quotations about mathematics that he’s been compiling. The tweet thread then led to this wikiquote page with quotations about mathematics. And he linked to a google drive folder that @MrCoreyMath shared with lots of posters of mathematicians and what they work(ed) on (modern and old time-y). He also has a poster with a lot of questions students can/should be asking themselves when they solve a problem or are working on a problem.

***

@joelbezaire posted a great challenge. He gives his kids this chart, and asks them what the relationship is between the four variables. Then when kids think they know, they go up an add a line (which then gives more data for kids who might not see it). He created these exercises (called Variable Analysis) and they are here (along with more about how he facilitates it).  pic15.png

***

pic16.png

The post of his activity is here. I watched a documentary of the MIT Mystery Hunt, and there was an awesome communication activity in it. Watch this video (11:19-13:50). I think it would be hilarious to watch kids do this.

***

This quotation:
pic17

And this quotation:

pic35.png

***

@allison_krasnow shared this site with great collaborative activities for students. *Swoon.* *I’m in love.* To whet your appetite, here’s a screenshot of what awaits you:

pic18.png

Which of course reminds me of Play With Your Math by Joey Kelly and CiCi Yu (twitter for site: @playwyourmath), which I will also screenshot to whet your appetite:

pic19.png

***

Sara Van Der Werf does an amazing “name tent” thing at the start of the year (I’ve done it and enjoy it!). But I always struggle in the moment to come up with good questions. @averypickford shares questions he uses for student interviews which could make good name tent questions. The questions he’s going to use this year are:
“What was the last movie you saw or book you read that you really enjoyed or had a lasting impact? If I gave you enough 💰 to live comfortably w/out going to school or working, what is 1 thing you’d do with your time? What is something you’re particularly good at? What do you think is important for me to know in order for you to be successful in this class?”

@algebrainiac1 shares her questions in a blogpost.

@JennSWhite tweeted that she does:
Day 1: If you could be any creature real/fictitious what would you be & why?
Day 2: What is the sure-fire way to lift your mood/spirit?
Day 3: If you could have dinner with any person alive/dead who would you pick & why? What would you eat?
Day 4: What superpower would you want?

@Riehlt says: “”If you had three wishes, what would they be?” I got this from a school phycologist and used it for many years. It really gives insight to what they value and has revealed all sort of things; hardships, illnesses, deaths, body image, family conflicts. A few rich, fame, etc.

@EmilySilman asked kids to finish this “If math were an animal, it would be _____ because _____” or “If math were a food, it would be _____ because ______.”

***

Just because cool!

pic20.png

***

@JennSWhite posted this picture from the second day of her classroom. A group activity:
pic21.png

When people asked for more information, she shared the puzzles and the solutions! It was inspired by @nomad_penguin’s post here. And links to Mark Chubb’s post which talks about things to consider if doing activities like this in your classroom.

pic22

***

@a_schindy posted some posters she hangs up in her classroom about the behaviors/traits of a mathematician (from Tracy Zager’s Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had). And, importantly, how she had a conversation about what was on the posters, which she blogged about here.

pic23.png

***

@BearStMichael shares his classroom norms and his thinking about how to introduce them/start the year. This is a must read. Full stop.

pic36.png

***

Edutopia tweeted a sweet way to end a particularly harrowing or energetic class or challenging discussion. It’s a video, so you have to go here to see it. It’s called “the three As”  (appreciations, apologies, aha!s). The purpose is the reflect on the day and the dynamics. Kids stand in a circle and just say an appreciation, an apology, or an aha moment!

***

@Lisa99Bailey posted these pencils she made for her kids. Here’s the original tweet so you can see what she wrote on them bigger. Other people, in the replies, also added “Be Original” and “Be Inclusive.” I think I’d want to do this randomly on a day that had nothing special so it was truly unexpected.

pic24.png

And @MrsDi, in the replies, had a great idea to spread the love: “Super cool! How about on the next batch you have the kids each write an inspiring message and put all those pencils in a classroom-share location? Or… trade with the classroom next door?”

***

@davidwees posted this

pic25

and shared the isometric drawing tool that NCTM has for creating stuff like this!

***

@bowmanimal tweeted out a great blogpost he wrote about changing how we think about assessments. It is fantastic. An excerpt:

pic26.png

Years ago, maybe at PCMI, I also heard of a great quiz idea. Partner kids up to take a quiz. And they have to do it silently, and write notes to each other to help them communicate. They’ve made all their thinking visible for you, and they have each other to rely on. I can’t believe I’ve never done this.

***

A number of  years ago, I did a random act of kindness day. We didn’t do content, but we wrote thank you cards to people in the building. I haven’t done that recently, because other teachers have taken to doing that in other forms, and it felt like it wouldn’t be special if I did it. But if I end up doing something like that again, @allison_krasnow shared @MsCummins12’s blogpost about reading How Full Is Your Bucket with her kids. I really liked the idea. I think if I did a random act of kindness day, I might read the kid with books, have a discussion, and then have kids plan random acts of kindness that aren’t thank you cards. What are ways we can be kind that takes a different form? And then their homework will be to actually execute those acts of kindness.

***

@HankReuling posted this great puzzle (a sangaku!). It took me a page of work to solve. But then I saw someone replied with three lines of work. But that didn’t take away from the sense of accomplishment I had! Have fun playing with it!

pic27.png

***

@DavidButlerUofA posted a display / game he does with kids called “Numbers and Letters.” I had seen the British show Countdown on youtube on which this is based. I love this as a display, and there is a random element to it which is eggggselent!  It might be fun to get a moveable whiteboard to the front entrance where we have this up, and encourage caretakers and kids alike to engage (and the younger kids can take a short in-school field trip to work on this together as a class). Maybe have a jar of starbursts for anyone who contributes an answer?

pic28.png

***

Sara Van Der Werf @saravdwerf compiled all her week 1 activities here. I’ve done some of them and am a fan.

***

Look at these. I’m in love. From @solvemymaths (post, post, post, post).

pic29.png

***

@rwhite_teacher1 created “extension cards” for kids when they have finished early. The google drive folder is here. I don’t quite know how I’d use them in class, but I like the sentiments. It might be more for me to remind me about ways I can ask kids to extend their work.

pic30.png

***

This is one of my favorite @benorlin comics. I want to show it in class early on.

pic31.png

***

A public WoDB bulletin board space!

pic32.png

And, in case you were wondering, there are actual fancy posters you can buy too! My department head just ordered them for us!!!

***

@rundquist wrote “Don’t just ask what they learned, ask what they unlearned.” It’s a great exit ticket question.

***

I’m teaching Algebra II this year and I remember how this vocabulary in particular used to be tough for kids. The only change I might make in this is not have the equation equal 0. Kids like to set everything to 0, and that’s crazy. I don’t want to reinforce that.

pic33.png

***

@davidwees posted a neat set of pictures to think about exponentiation and logarithms, using the Connecting Representations instructional routine I learned in my TMC17 morning session. To see the images/tweet, go here.

pic34.png

***

@glennwaddelnvhs posted a google doc compiling all the great exit ticket questions that people have come up with!

***

@TracyZager tweeted a 2-page PDF of great questions to help kids utilize their own intuition when problem solving. A random snip of that PDF:

pic37.png

***

@mpershan tweeted about using Anna Weltman’s Loop-de-Loops! in class. I’ve always wanted to do that! It’s a great exercise in generating mathematical questions. His class came up with these:

pic38.png
And AMAAAAAZINGLY, Lusto created a beautiful interactive webpage for this.

***

Fin.

Advertisements

TMC in 2018: a personal reflection of where we are

Super rough draft thinking…

Last summer at the end of TMC17, there was a flex session on diversity. That brought up a host of questions that made us realize: as an organization/conference, we don’t even know who we are. That was both terrifying (do we not?!) and exciting (we get to tease out our core values!).

Here’s the thing. The conference runs pretty darn smoothly and appears organized to people attending, but that all comes as a result of a handful of people on the committee working on certain individual tasks (usually alone, sometimes with one other person). And Lisa, our amaaaaahzing Lisa, keeps her eyes on everything and does the bulk of the infrastructure/logistical work that makes the conference actually happen.

But — and this may come as a surprise to y’all — I’ve been on the organizing committee for a few years, and never once in that time did we all get together in person or on a google hangout to have a discussion. Mostly the committee members worked on their individual tasks and we would occasionally send an email out or ask a question… most people knew what they were working on, but didn’t know what everyone else was doing. And honestly, there probably wasn’t a need. The conference was successful in that it, for many attendees, provided something that they didn’t get in other places professionally, and people were on the whole happy.

So when that flex session on diversity came up, it opened my eyes to something. We were doing the logistics of recreating the conference from year to year. But it was now year six, and although still organized by math educators for math educators, we (as organizers) were still considering ourselves to be a ragtag conference that we cobble together. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for everyone. I should probably say…

… at least that’s how I looked at TMC until then. It was perhaps a vestige of the thinking when it all first happened in 2012, and we were cobbling everything together from scratch (here’s the original website that I put together but don’t even remember putting together!: TMC12). And perhaps it’s because it was just a merry band of us making spreadsheets and organizing ourselves in dorms and trying to read contracts and figure out what they meant and fumbling around trying to make things work over the years… it just felt like we weren’t professional conference organizers. We were just trying to make things happen as best as we could. And so that was enough. I thought we’re volunteering our time for this… so who could ask for more? 

But the flex session made me realize we are not that anymore. We can’t be that anymore. Because the conference is real and sustained and impacts people. That’s it: we were responsible because we were putting things together and what we did impacted people. And it was clear that for all our work to be welcoming, we weren’t always being successful. Jenise Sexton wrote in 2017:

So when I walked in the Dining Hall of Holy Innocent Episcopal School along with around 200 other participants, I wasn’t surprised to see like 4 or 5 other brown skinned people. But that evening I received a DM from another participant which read, “Where are all the black people?”

In that moment, reading that message, I realized it wasn’t my role to be the sole representative. It isn’t supposed to be normal for me to be the only black face in the room.

And in the flex session, people had lots of questions about how things happened to make the conference what it was. How did we think about registration and who can attend? What outreach do we do? Who chooses the keynote speakers and how do they get chosen — and does diversity (in any form) come into play? How do sessions get selected/accepted and organized? Why do we really want diversity, and what kinds of diversity are we even talking about? What is diversity anyway?

People cared about this. And conversations (good conversations!) happened at TMC around this. Marian Dingle wrote wonderfully about it here (“Yet, I don’t feel that I was able to fully let my hair down at TMC. For one, I was a first-timer, and the few people I “knew”, I only knew through Twitter. For another, I was one of a few black women, which although not an unfamiliar situation, still was not comfortable.”) and I’m glad that she was selected to be on the TMC Board this year. [1]

And this is precisely where I started to realize we were responsible for answering these questions. We had to think more than simply about logistics and getting the conference to run smoothly. We had to think about what the conference really was, and what a vision for it was. We can’t hide behind “don’t expect too much from us… we’re just putting this thing together on our spare time!”

And from this, Tina (with me as a trusty sidekick) took the reins on coming up with a mission statement for TMC — asking for input from all constituents (anyone who attended TMC, the committee, the board) and then asking for more feedback from the community during a Global Math Department session before it took its final form.

mission.png

That was a huge step forward for us, I think. Because it helped us define our core values as best as we could, and then refine them. It is perfect? No. But does it give us a place to start working from? Yes.

Now let’s fast forward to TMC18. Another flex session on diversity. And the first question that comes up:

Why do we value diversity as TMC? The mission says “we value diversity” but it doesn’t go deeper. We need to go deeper. 

And in this hour and a quarter, many things got raised. Some of my key notes:

  • We are at a place where TMC is a grassroots organization whose grass has grown too high. We are just starting to grapple with how to deal with that mindfully, inclusively, awesomely.
  • Do people see diversity as important for TMC because: (a) diversity helps TMC (it makes TMC stronger), or (b) we want to create a TMC that’s valuable for all math educators?
  • We all blog and tweet to connect with people, and sometimes it is comforting to connect with someone like you in a way other than just math — such as in terms of race or sexual orientation. “If white people/cis people can find it, I should be able to find it too.” [One thought that was thrown out for those who want to connect in safe spaces at TMC was to form “homerooms” or “affinity spaces.”]
  • “It’s not just about inviting people, it’s about what they’re being invited into.”
  • As math educators, we know that numbers can be powerful. But the number of people of color attending TMC each year might not be the metric to use to measure us with “diversity.” We want to be careful not to try to “get” people of color (or diverse participants) just for numbers, to make us feel like we’re filling a quota and doing the right thing. We don’t want diversity to be trendy — to make ourselves feel better, or so we’re trying to make the “picture” look better. Maybe other metrics (more qualitative) are better. [What we do at TMC? Action steps we’ve taken? Things like pronouns on tags. Sessions. Keynotes. Big and small. We tried some these things — what can we measure? What does success look like?] Numbers don’t speak; they lie in a vacuum when given without context.
  • We need to be more strategic than being generally welcoming (which we do really well). We need to be specifically welcoming.
  • If TMC is going to double down on addressing diversity and encouraging participants to engage, it needs to build that into the schedule (perhaps by having a diversity/equity strand in the program, and perhaps other ways to encourage conversations around these issues).
  • TMC and the #MTBoS are intertwined because the #MTBoS is the primary pipeline for people coming to TMC. So one possible thing that could happen is that people could start having more sustained and organized discussions about diversity and equity in the #MTBoS. One idea was about having a regular chat (e.g. #MTBoSequity) and having it center around shorter things like articles/blogposts instead of books. Questions were raised about twitter being super public and challenging to have those sorts of conversations — and the idea of having semi-private discussion boards or not-saved-video-conferences similar to Global Math Department were raised. (Tina just blogged about the idea here.)
  • Having people write their pronouns on their nametags was a way TMC forced people to confront diversity in a small way. Someone asked if there were other small things like that that we could do.
  • We have a lot of people at TMC who are supportive of the ideas of diversity. 

In the flex session, people asked a lot of questions about how we plan the logistics, just like last year. How are the sessions chosen? How are the keynotes chosen? How does registration work? At heart, the reason these questions were asked is because people were interested in seeing if there was intentionality in how they were being done. [2]

And that to me is where we need to go next as we think about organizing TMC. Intentionality. I wrote earlier that:

I’ve been on the organizing committee for a few years, and never once in that time did we all get together in person or on a google hangout to have a discussion.

TMC is at a place, at least to me, where we have successfully figured out many of the logistical aspects of putting the conference together. We were able to do that as a committee without being a cohesive whole — we could work in our little silos. However we’re at a critical juncture as an organization. We need to figure out how we can ask big questions, have sustained and challenging discussions that push us, have a process for moving from discussions to making decisions so we can move forward, and come up with a clear and shared vision that we’re moving towards. 

After writing that, I only have one word that comes to mind: overwhelmed.

After TMC18, the committee and the board did all sit down together. We had four hours. And though we could have used four more, I was proud that we identified that we needed a way to communicate and have discussions, and we are in the beginning stages of learning how to do this all virtually and asynchronously. In the few weeks since TMC18, we’re actually starting to do this. It’s a lot we have to do, and we don’t have a roadmap on how to do it. It would be way easier to just go back to how things were done. But that’s not in line with what we want to be. Earlier, I wrote:

The conference was successful in that it, for many attendees, provided something that they didn’t get in other places professionally, and people were on the whole happy.

But I wrote that to reflect my thoughts then. Now I see that this is problematic. Is that a good metric of success for us? Who gets counted in the “many” and what does “on the whole” really mean? We have to be intentional to make sure that everyone feels at home and that we are working towards our mission of reaching “all learners.” Which means we need to think about teachers who are feeling left out. When we’re thinking about the conference as a whole, who are we designing it for? Is it for people like ourselves (those on the organizing committee/board)? [3] Or do we need to start de-centering ourselves before asking this question?

As I said: overwhelming.

I don’t know how this all will happen. I know it won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick. I’m imagining years. [4] And honestly, a big part of me wants to shy away from all this change. Those who know me know that change is really hard for me. I’m a little  (big) hobbit who likes to live in my little hobbit hole. But I also know that if I were one of my students who came to me for advice on all this, I would say to them “doing what’s easy is not always doing what’s right.” And I’ve never been scared of hard work.

I should conclude by saying these are just things I’ve been thinking a lot about. But they are my thoughts. They aren’t fully formed (rarely are my thoughts fully formed), and certainly not cohesive. But more importantly, they aren’t official thoughts of the committee or the board. I don’t really even know if other TMC organizers will agree with my thinking about this! But I promised @BeckyNftP I would blog about the flex session around diversity, but the only way to keep that promise was to embed that in the much larger thing that I’ve been mulling over in my head.

 
[1] Please don’t ask me what the Board does and what the Committee does. Remember when I said ragtag? These are things we’re still figuring out.

[2] And things were being done.  Those selecting the keynotes or organizing the conference program did think about bigger picture things. But they took that up on their own, not because they were working towards a shared vision we all had.

[3] As TMC started, it had to be. That’s why it was started! For a small group of #MTBoS people to meet in real life. But now we have to ask the question if our answer is still the same?

[4] We’ll probably need at least a year just to figure out how to communicate with each other semi-effectively.

The State of the 2018 #MTBoS (to me)

Every so often, I like to take reflect on where I think we are as a community of math educators who collaborate online. Usually after attending TMC — a math conference run for and by math educators. But please forgive me in advance. This is the ramblings of someone writing late into the night and someone who isn’t revising. Musings, at best.

Taking Stock Previously

May 2009: Why Twitter?
November 2009: How BlogBuddies Became Friends
July 2012: 40 Choose 2 First Dates, or Initial Impressions of TMC12
March 2013: Some New Things On the Interwebs & HOLY COW What is Happening!
June 2013: My Thoughts on the #MTBoS
August 2013: TMC13: The State of Things For Me
July 2014: Teacher Growth, the MTBoS, and TMC14
July 2015: My Thoughts about the Evolution of the #MTBoS: 2015 Edition

But I haven’t taken stock for a while. Partly it was because I didn’t see much change in 2016 from what I wrote in 2015. And then I made a decision to consciously avoid jumping in the numerous conversations that happened during and after TMC17, although I had lots of thoughts. [1] So now it’s time to take stock again.

Taking Stock and Making Predictions: Teacher Leader Edition

The biggest thing by far that I’m noticing is that people in the community are becoming (and seeing themselves) as teacher leaders.

CULTIVATION OF TEACHER LEADERS WITHIN THE MTBOS
When I started teaching a bit over a decade ago, I didn’t see many pathways for classroom teachers to have huge impacts on math education. (That wasn’t something I was looking for, to be clear, it just wasn’t something that I saw in my world.) In the past five years, as social media has fueled things, our classrooms aren’t silos anymore and our practice have become more public, and as this community has grown bigger, I’ve seen the rise of various pathways that teachers can become teacher leaders.

There are many ways people can become leaders from within the MTBoS community (for example, Annie Perkins/Megan Schmidt/Dan Anderson/Justin Aion inspire playful mathematics through art for so many math teachers. And people are planning and running mini-TMCs and tweet ups. New things like Desmos’ Computational Layer come around and people like Jay Chow become the expert teacher of us teachers who want to learn it. There are always people running and presenting at the Global Math Department.) That has actually been something I’ve found true since the early days of the MTBoS. It’s just that there are more and more of them now as the community has grown. I’ve found that the MTBoS provides numerous ways for people to gain their voice as a teacher leader. Tweeting is one way, short and sweet. Blogging is another. And TMC also gives some opportunities for honing a face-to-face voice (from the short and sweet my favorites, to the 30 or 60 minute sessions, to the six hour morning sessions). In a small community which attempts to be supportive and people try to raise each other up, it is easier to identify and amplify your voice, see that others find what you have to offer valuable, and gain confidence in yourself.

CULTIVATION OF TEACHER LEADERS OUTSIDE OF THE MTBOS
But we now have community members that have become recognized as teacher leaders outside of our MTBoS community. For a long time, there was Dan Meyer who fit this definition. But now there are a group of people who are in that category — MTBoS people who have kinda broken out of the MTBoS in terms of their impact on math education. Fawn Nguyen is always traveling to give talks! Julie Reulbach publishes a post and almost 10K people get it in their inboxes! John Stevens and Matt Vaudry published a book around their approach to the classroom that resonates with people! Heck, so many books are out now or coming out now by MTBoS people *cough* Christopher Danielson! Chris Shore! Edmund Harriss! Denis Sheeran! Wait, so many white men! In any case, I’ve compiled a list of all MTBoS books that I know about here.) [2] In fact, there are now a small group of MTBoS people who seem to be making the conference circuit giving keynotes. There are so many people who are now presenting or even keynoting regularly at NCTM and other conferences. And there are a lot of MTBoS folk who are on NCTM committees. (I don’t know if I’m in the minority or majority, but I see NCTM as acting as a pretty great partner to this online math teacher community.) And probably most exciting to me, I’m reading more and more tweets of people in the community taking on math coaching roles for districts, or becoming department chairs! Teachers who love math teaching leading math teachers! The MTBoS cultivates internal leaders who then can become leaders more broadly. A lot of that has happened in the past three years.

MY WORKING DEFINITION OF A TEACHER LEADER
I have done a lot of thinking about the rise of the teacher leader, and what even a teacher leader is. These thoughts started in 2015, and became more solidified as I started talking with Julie Reulbach in 2018 about her TMC keynote address which is specifically about teacher leadership. (YOU SHOULD WATCH IT!) I came to the conclusion that I personally would define a teacher leader broadly… as someone whose work has a positive impact on kids outside of their own classroom.

So that includes sharing materials/lessons with other teachers, supporting other teachers when they’re down, writing a book that changes someone’s practice, running (non-sucky) PD which pushes participants forward in their thinking about teaching, creating spaces and structures for teachers to reflect about their practice (ahem, shameless plug for The Virtual Conference of Mathematical Flavors that I’m hosting right now!), tweeting out answers to questions people ask, writing blogpost reflections about your classroom that inspire others, whatever. As Julie said in her talk, teacher leadership is not a ladder you climb. (I think it used to be.) You don’t have to leave the classroom to have that broader impact. And that a tweet that hits someone at the right time might be way more impactful and useful than a book. [3] This isn’t something “new” but it is something that I think people in the MTBoS are starting to be aware of.

With the smaller things we’re doing (cheerleading each other, having book chats online, pushing people to think about diversity and equity in their classrooms, etc.), we used to think of it as just helping each other out. But there’s a reframing that is happening. We’re doing the same things we’ve always been doing, but people are starting to recognize that this work is the work of a teacher leader. That, “OMG, I am actually a teacher leader… wait, no way… I am not… but… maybe I kinda am a little bit?” It might slowly be entering some MTBoS folk’s understanding of who they are. And that’s pretty awesome. There may be nothing different in what people are doing, but I sense the beginnings of a shift in how people are interpreting what they are doing. (And acknowledging and really accepting that what they are doing has real value to people.)

MY PREDICTION ON TEACHER LEADERS
It’s like — I don’t know — I see the pathways for teachers to become leaders as numerous, crisscrossing, and some pathways are only just beginning to show themselves. Maybe vines on a trellis is the image that I’m trying to go for? All I know is that there are now a zillion different ways for someone to have a positive impact on kids outside of their own classroom… and the existence of the internet and the online math teacher community is making that even easier. I predict that there will be some cool ways people figure out how to have an impact outside of their classrooms that we can’t even image. Who knows? Find ways to get involved with new (math) teacher training programs — or create resources to help new math teachers? Argh. I literally can’t come up with good ideas… but that’s precisely the point. Who could have predicted 5 years ago that there would be a math space in the Minnesota State Fair?! I suspect in 5 years there will be a number of different awesome pathways that people will carve out for themselves to become a teacher leader in a way that aligns with their passion/interests that I totally wouldn’t have anticipated today. Which means we’re at a cusp. We’re still trying to figure out what precisely teacher leadership can look like. We have a number of examples that have emerged. But we’re likely going to see a bunch more.

LANI AND TRACY AND BIGGER PICTURE THINKING
We have people who are in math ed and also part and parcel of our MTBoS community. Specifically, I’m thinking of Lani Horn and Tracy Zager. Their books Motivated and Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had tout the work of people in the MTBoS do and outline pedagogy that most everyone in the community can rally behind. But also their work also engages deeply with the idea of identity and status. And importantly, although in the past I saw certain beams of light here and there emerge about the idea of identity and status in the classroom (in the vein of complex instruction), this kind of thinking is becoming much more normal in the conversations that are being had in the MTBoS. More and more, I think people (myself totally included) that the basis of an awesome classroom has to be rooted in consideration of these things. Thinking about “how to teach completing the square,” for example, isn’t just about scaffolding and conceptual development of the idea. Being able to do that well is also predicated on building an atmosphere in the classroom that the scaffolding and conceptual development can happen within. I think more and more people (myself included) are starting to recognize this. Like Lani and Tracy do, I predict more people in math education are going to start engaging with our community, as they will come to see us as a powerful resource, and we will engage with them if we see them as an ally in our classroom work.

In general, the MTBoS conversations aren’t entirely consumed with content or sharing resources anymore. It hasn’t been that for a while. Broader discussions about identity, status, diversity, equity, social justice are now more commonplace. Not everyone is engaging in these conversations, but they’re happening and I bet this is going to turn into another pathway that the MTBoS will be creating teacher leaders that are recognized outside of the community. And I’ve seen that these conversations of identity, status, diversity, equity, social justice have been turned back onto us. Not just things to consider for our classroom community, but also for us to consider as an online math teacher community. Right now there is a small but growing recognition that we can’t brush these conversations under the rug — for the sake of our students, and for the sake of our own community. 

DESMOS AND ILLUSTRATIVE MATHEMATICS
I don’t quite know what to make of this… but there are a ton of #MTBoS classroom teachers that have left the classroom to work full time at Desmos or Illustrative Mathematics. I went to dinner with a group of IM people in Cleveland recently and there were only two people at the giant table who I wasn’t friends with from the #MTBoS. Similarly, I know a lot of the people working at Desmos (and I heart them all!). Although I don’t know what to make of this, what I can say is that these people are working at places I believe in, and that will have a large-scale positive impact on math education. And I probably can say that if it wasn’t for the MTBoS, many of them might not have this opportunity that they decided to take.

***

This post feels incomplete. I feel like I have so much more to think about and write. When rereading this post before I #pushsend, the ideas seem inchoate, and somewhat incoherent, to me. I can’t underline anything and say “THIS. THIS IS WHAT I’M TRYING TO GET AT.” Usually when I sit down to write something like this, all the blathering helps me refine my thinking and gets me to clarify what I really think. And at some point, I usually hit upon that thing that makes me feel excited and like I have found something TRUE and A REAL INSIGHT. But I am not leaving this post feeling any more lucid. No big insights emerged. So I suppose I leave this post as late night musings, as I started it as.

 

[1] If you don’t know what this is all about, but me being all cryptic has piqued your interest, you can get a flavor of it by reading these two posts: here and here.  This moment was important for me in one huge way. It highlighted how scaling up the online math teaching community without a central authority could lead to problems with intentionality/messaging/impact. How does a decentralized community with community-builders who are volunteers grow bigger with a coherent set of values and vision and positivity that are not only agreed upon but also enacted? Where intentionality in things that happen have a place? I don’t have answers.

[2] In 2015, I noticed there were “brands” (for lack of a better word). I still see that. The number of people with a narrow/specific idea/vision and a coherent voice that really resonates with people is growing. These people are gaining a lot of cache outside of the MTBoS. Often times, these “brands” are related to projects that were just gaining traction in 2015 (like Visual Patterns or Open Middle or Which One Doesn’t Belong or Clothesline Math or …). Conferences, books, at the MTBoS spread the word of these “brands.” And now from their rising popularity in 2015, they’ve become something bigger in math education. And with that, they carved out one pathway of “teacher leadership” that didn’t really exist before. But a number of people seem to be following it in some form. And that’s cool to see.

[3] But what I like about the MTBoS is that, taking my definition of teacher leader, it’s all a community of teachers who are trying to support each other. And so in the ways we all prop each other up, push each others’ thinking, share resources, etc., we all are having a positive impact on each others’ classrooms and each others’ kids. And so we all in small ways can consider ourselves teacher leaders. I love that it’s not a zero-sum game.

A PERSONAL LATE NIGHT MUSING: TEACHER LEADER VERSUS MASTER TEACHER
I wrote this and it doesn’t quite fit above, but I didn’t want to delete it. So I’m sticking it at the bottom of this post here. When I started teaching, I wanted to become a “master teacher.” That was my goal. Feel like I know I’m an expert in what I’m doing. I have since realized I will never consider myself a master teacher. That’s probably due to my own psychological makeup. But in the #MTBoS we have this idea that “everyone has valuable things to share.” And I truly believe that. But I also wonder if — now that I’m seeing so many ways people teach —  I don’t believe in the idea of a master teacher anymore? As opposed to my first few years of teaching,  I now don’t really think about it at all. Because over the years in the MTBoS I’ve see so many different ways people reach their kids, I recently realized that I don’t have a single ideal/standard to live up to. There are so many ways to be an awesome teacher. (Hence, my virtual conference of mathematical flavors was born. I wanted to showcase this diversity!) I just have to figure out who I am as a teacher as best as I can and just keep on trucking.

 

Submit a Proposal for TMC18! You, yes you!

I’m on the organizing committee for Twitter Math Camp. If you don’t know what it is, you should know it’s the greatest professional development I’ve been to. And I have gone to it every year since it started. So check out the website (http://tmathc.com/). The key aspect is that it’s a grassroots conference that was started by math teachers for math teachers (and related educators). By people who were passionate about their classrooms and just wanted to get together with each other. Here are some fun pictures from TMC last year:

 

Below I have an invitation to submit a proposal to talk at TMC this summer. There are three options: a short 30 minute session, a regular 60 minute session, and leading a  6 hour multi-day session. If you want to come to TMC and haven’t considered giving a talk, I want you to take a moment and think “well… if I did put myself out there, this is what I would talk about… this is what I know.” If you’re a first year teacher, it could be a session called “If I could do it over” and talk about what you learned, to help other early career teachers. If you’re a math coach, it could be about how to wrangle your more challenging teachers and getting them on your side. If you’re an experienced teacher, it could be about how you design your quadratics unit or how you bring outside speakers to the classroom or … I’m just asking you to consider leading a session.

We in the online math teaching community and at TMC believe that everyone has things of value to share, and we can all learn from each other. TMC is a welcoming place, and if you’re scared of presenting, you’ll know that you’ll be doing it at a small conference to a small and friendly audience (anywhere from 5 to 20 people, usually). It’s a place to just put yourself out there! I personally am terrified of public speaking, but it was at TMC that I first put myself out there, and it turned out to be so much fun to design and implement my sessions, and just a lot less scary than I thought. And I did it with someone else, which made it more fun! So yeah, I’d love for you think about it. Think about what you know, think about what you have to say, think about what you’re strong at… and if you think you don’t have anything, I’d argue you’re being too hard on yourself. We all have things of value to share. And we all can learn from each other.

Now without further ado…

***

We are starting to gear up for TMC18, which will be at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH  (map is here) from July 19-22, 2018. We are looking forward to a great event! Part of what makes TMC special is the wonderful presentations we have from math teachers who are facing the same challenges that we all are. 

To get an idea of what the community is interested in hearing about and/or learning about we set up a Google Doc (http://bit.ly/TMC18sessug). It’s a GDoc for people to list their interests and someone who might be good to present that topic. The form is still open for editing, so if you have an idea of what you’d like to see someone else present as you’re writing your own proposal, feel free to add it! 

This conference is by teachers, for teachers. That means we need you to present. Yes, you! In the past nearly everyone who submitted on time was accepted, however, we cannot guarantee that will be the case. We do know that we need 10-12 morning sessions (these sessions are held 3 consecutive mornings for 2 hours each morning) and 12 sessions at each afternoon slot (12 half hour sessions that will be on Thursday, July 19 and 48 one hour sessions that will be either Thursday, July 19, Friday, July 20, or Saturday, July 21). That means we are looking for somewhere around 70 sessions for TMC18. We are requesting that if you are applying to speak for a 30 or 60 minute session that there are no more than 2 speakers and if you are applying for a morning session that there are no more than 3 speakers.

What can you share that you do in your classroom that others can learn from? Presentations can be anything from a strategy you use to how you organize your entire curriculum. Anything someone has ever asked you about is something worth sharing. And that thing that no one has asked about but you wish they would? That’s worth sharing too. Once you’ve decided on a topic, come up with a title and description and submit the form. The description you submit now is the one that will go into the program, so make sure it is clear and enticing. Please make sure that people can tell the difference between your session and one that may be similar. For example, is your session an Intro to Desmos session or one for power users? This helps us build a better schedule and helps you pick the sessions that will be most helpful to you!

If you have an idea for something short (between 5 and 15 minutes) to share, plan on doing a My Favorite. Those will be submitted at a later date.

The deadline for submitting your TMC Speaker Proposal is January 15, 2018 at 11:59 pm Eastern time. This is a firm deadline since we will reserve spots for all presenters before we begin to open registration on February 1st.

Thank you for your interest!

Team TMC – Lisa Henry, Lead Organizer, Mary Bourassa, Tina Cardone, James Cleveland, Cortni Muir, Jami Packer, David Sabol, Sam Shah, and Glenn Waddell

New Year, New Blog

Note: Julie Reulbach wrote this post on the ExploreMTBoS site! I’m copying it here for two reasons. One is that I want everyone to participate! Two, I have been in a crazy place this year, and I’ve thought “oh I should blog this” a bunch and never took the time to follow through. I am going to participate too! Join me!

Additional Note: Carl Oliver has also set up a blogging resolution challenge for 2017! And his post is inspirational.

Welcome to the Explore the MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative!

With the start of a new year, there is no better time to start a new blog!  For those of you who have blogs, it is also the perfect time to get inspired to write again!

Please join us to participate in this years blogging initiative!  To join, all you need to do is write just one post a week for the next four weeks.  To make it easier for you, we will post a new prompt every Sunday!  Once you have blogged, please fill out the form below.  Each week, your blogs will be posted on this site for all to enjoy!

This Week’s Theme:  My Favorites

This week, the blogging theme will be “My Favorites”, where you can post about one (or many) of your favorite things!  Called a “My Favorite,” it can be something that makes teaching a specific math topic work really well.  It does not have to be a lesson, but can be anything in teaching that you love!  It can also be something that you have blogged or tweeted about before.  Some ideas of favorites that have been shared are:

  • A lesson (or part of one) that went great
  • A game your students love to play
  • A fun and/or effective way to practice facts
  • A website or app you love to use in class
  • An organizational trick or tip that has been life changing
  • A product that you use in your classroom that you can’t live without!

Blog Newbies!

If you are brand new to blogging, you can read Starting A Blog from the 2015 initiative.  This post will give you specific instructions on how to start a blog.

Hot Tip!  Don’t stress about your blog name!

The hardest part about blogging is often coming up with a title.  Do not let this detail derail you!  A great suggestion is to make your blog address your name.  Then, you can title your blog later – or change the title anytime you want!  To see what this looks like, check out Sam Shah’s blog.  His web address is samjshah.com, but the site name is “Continuous Everywhere But Differentiable Nowhere“.  No one cares about your blog name, they just want to read interesting, inspiring, and helpful posts!

Hashtag it!  #MTBoS #MtbosBlogsplosion 

Don’t forget to tweet out your blog link and add hashtags so other teachers in the MTBoS community can easily find your post!  If you are not tweeting yet, you should be!  There is an amazing community of math educators there just waiting to inspire and support you!  Check out How To Start a Twitter Account to get started!  Also, if you are brand new to Twitter or just want to get more out of it, there are more Twitter tips on Julie Reulbach’s blogpost, Tweet, Connect, Repeat.

This year, we are joining up with the #mtbosblogsplosion.  Special thanks to  Carl Oliver@carloliwitter, for jump starting blogging for many people in our community!

Hashtags to add to your tweets:  #MTBoS #MtbosBlogsplosion

Also, if you have a wordpress blog, please re-blog this post to get the word out!

Deadline: Press submit by the end of the day Saturday, January 7, 2017.

Yes, this is a quick turn around this week – but we don’t want you to put it off or delay!  Once you are finished with your blog post, fill out this form and your blog post will be featured on this site [meaning the MTBoS site this is reblogged from] next week!

 

Twitter Math Camp 2017

We are starting to gear up for TMC17, which will be at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School  in Atlanta, GA (map is here) from July 27-30, 2017. We are looking forward to a great event! Part of what makes TMC special is the wonderful presentations we have from math teachers who are facing the same challenges that we all are.

To get an idea of what the community is interested in hearing about and/or learning about we set up a Google Doc (http://bit.ly/TMC17-1). It’s a GDoc for people to list their interests and someone who might be good to present that topic. The form is still open for editing, so if you have an idea of what you’d like to see someone else present as you’re writing your own proposal, feel free to add it!

This conference is by teachers, for teachers. That means we need you to present. Yes, you! In the past everyone who submitted on time was accepted, however, this year we cannot guarantee that everyone who submits a proposal will be accepted. We do know that we need 10-12 morning sessions (these sessions are held 3 consecutive mornings for 2 hours each morning) and 12 sessions at each afternoon slot (12 half hour sessions that will be on Thursday, July 27 and 48 one hour sessions that will be either Thursday, July 27, Friday, July 28, or Saturday, July 29). That means we are looking for somewhere around 70 sessions for TMC17.

What can you share that you do in your classroom that others can learn from? Presentations can be anything from a strategy you use to how you organize your entire curriculum. Anything someone has ever asked you about is something worth sharing. And that thing that no one has asked about but you wish they would? That’s worth sharing too. Once you’ve decided on a topic, come up with a title and description and submit the form. The description you submit now is the one that will go into the program, so make sure it is clear and enticing. Please make sure that people can tell the difference between your session and one that may be similar. For example, is your session an Intro to Desmos session or one for power users? This helps us build a better schedule and helps you pick the sessions that will be most helpful to you!

If you have an idea for something short (between 5 and 15 minutes) to share, plan on doing a My Favorite. Those will be submitted at a later date.

The deadline for submitting your TMC Speaker Proposal is January 16, 2017 at 11:59 pm Eastern time. This is a firm deadline since we will reserve spots for all presenters before we begin to open registration on February 1st.

Thank you for your interest!

Team TMC17 – Lisa Henry, Lead Organizer, Mary Bourassa, Tina Cardone, James Cleveland, Daniel Forrester, Megan Hayes-Golding, Cortni Muir, Jami Packer, Sam Shah, and Glenn Waddell

#ExpandMTBoS

At #TMC16, Tina C. and I led a session called “Breaking Out of Ourselves.” It was a small brainstorming session which started out with us presenting the ways that the online math teacher community (#MTBoS) has started expanding itself — followed by a call to action.

Our presentation is here:

The crux of the presentation is that we (not just Tina and me, but many in the #MTBoS) have done a lot to make the #MTBoS community more welcoming and accessible to newcomers (the ExploreMTBoS initiative and mentoring program, the mathtwitterblogosphere website).There are conferences (#TMC) and tweetups (all over the place). There is a #MTBoS booth that travels to various (often NCTM) conferences and is manned by #MTBoS participants, to spread the word!

Other #MTBoS created things are available that are useful for teachers who don’t participate in the #MTBoS. There are books that have been written by #MTBoS-ers (e.g. Nix The Tricks, The Classroom Chef). There are website that are created by #MTBoS-ers and used by teachers everywhere (e.g. Visual Patterns, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Fraction Talks, Estimation 180, Would You RatherOpen Middle). There are podcasts (e.g. Tales from the Chalkline, Infinite Tangents). There are webinars and the Global Math Department Newsletter which rounds up and distills stuff from the community.

There are a number of smaller #MTBoS intiative that have happened pretty organically: A Day in the Life initiative, and the Letters to a First Year Teacher initiative, and Virtual Conferences.

And there were fun community building things, like Harlem Shake (Tweep Version) and Twittereen (and the now defunct, for those who remember, “Favorite Tweets”).

 All of this is to say: for those who are interested, there are many ways to help the community. You just have to find something you love about the #MTBoS, and then come up with a way to create/share/expand it with others. (That often involves breaking the idea into smaller chunks, getting other people on board to help, and actually holding each other accountable.) 

The #MTBoS doesn’t have a set of leaders. It only works because of the members. You don’t need to ask for permission. You don’t need to have been tweeting or blogging for months/years. You don’t need a “huge” project. You simply need to decide you want to do something, and do it. 

That is what our session was about. We shared some ideas that we had for places the community could grow, and ways people could actually do it, and then had people share their own thoughts and ideas.

Personally, the projects I’d love to see someone take on:

(1) Department presentations: I’m all about “packaging” something to make it easier for others to use. So I’d love for a group of people to create 3-4 “Introduction to the #MTBoS” presentations/workshops that math teachers can give to their departments. They can be different styles/lengths, and can have different activities involved. (For example, I made my whole department sign up for the GMD newsletter. At another presentation, I made a #MTBoS scavenger hunt, where different finds/activities were worth different points.) Then, anyone who wants can choose one and adapt it to make it work best when they want to evangelize the #MTBoS to their in-real-life colleagues! [Note: A number of #MTBoS presentations have been archived in the comments here.]

(2) A #MTBoS video: I saw PCMI (a math teacher conference I’ve been to) created a video to “sell” the program. I would love it if there were a #MTBoS video which captured the essence of what the community is. Maybe 30-60 seconds. Something professional that evokes feelings and excitement, the emotional essence of #MTBoS, rather than outlining what it all has to offer… Capturing lighting in a bottle, that is what I suppose I’m asking for. But if this can be done well, well… I think it could serve our community well.

(3) So you want to have a tweet up…: A number of people have held tweet-ups by now. I think it would be good if there could be “instructions on how to organize a tweet up” — from how to find people and contact them about attending to how to find a space to hold it to what to do at a tweet up. Again, perhaps two or three different “packages” for what tweetups could look like! This might make it easier for someone who might want to organize their own tweet up!

(4) NCTM article: I’d love for someone to write an article about the #MTBoS community for Mathematics Teacher (or another NCTM journal) – to share what the community is about, how it has affected someone’s teaching practice, and to show ways for others who might be curious how to get involved. There is also a call for articles for the 2018 Focus Issue which is on Tool Kits for Early Career Teachers which I think a really wonderful article about #MTBoS could be beneficial.
nctm.png
I wonder if two newbie #MTBoS-ers and two experienced #MTBoS-ers could collaborate on writing it! I am personally interested in having this happen because I think it is a way to spread the word through more traditional channels, and might just pique the interest of a lot of teachers!

(5) Getting Goofy: In addition to things to expand the reach of the #MTBoS, I think there is room for so much more goofy things that can happen (today I saw a tweet that said #keepmtbosweird, copyright @rdkpickle). I don’t know what this might be, but some sort of goofy community building event like twittereen or the great hedgehog sweater run or needaredstamp. A massive picture-based scavenger hunt? A virtual trivia night? A stupid funny poster contest?

(6) Appending #MTBoS to Existing Conferences: A number of people who are going to conferences (e.g. CMC south, Asilomar, NCTM) are planning 2-hour meet-ups with #MTBoS-ers. I think it could even be #MTBoS-ers arrive a day early or stay a day late and have a mini-get together (or even a super mini conference in the hotel!). I’d love a “package” that outlines how to organize one of these meet ups.

(7) Get more contributors to the One Good Thing blog: I love the One Good Thing blog. I would love for there to be more regular and semi-regular contributors. The more voices we have when talking about the joys of teaching math, the better. It has helped me out so much during my saddest and most down days, when I open the blog and see old things I’ve written. And I love reading the joyous elations that other teachers have.

I had one more idea that I have decided I am going to take on… For those who remember them… I am going to bring back Virtual Conferences. I loved the idea of them, and the person who hosted them is no longer doing them… so I’m going to bring them back from the dead!

The ideas above are things I’ve been mulling over. The ideas that came up in our meeting, or on twitter afterwards (using hashtag #ExpandMTBoS) are below (in the pictures or in the storify):

#ExpandMTBoS Storify

These ideas include involving Reddit, making a landing page website/app, creating a MTBoS logo, having teachers tell more of their stories, etc.

Choose something small, like presenting the community to your department or manning the #MTBoS booth at NCTM. Choose something huge, like creating your own conference, or website on (topic x), or writing a book. Or choose anything in between. But if you have the time and inclination, think of a way you can help #ExpandMTBoS! 

If you have an idea of something you want to do, tweet it out with the #ExpandMTBoS hashtag. Get people to help you! And make your idea a reality!