Round #4 of the #MTBoSBlogsplosion

Welcome to the fourth week of the 2017 MTBoS blogging initiative!  Remember that you can ALWAYS jump in and blog for any week!  You can just start this week, or go back and complete the previous missions if you would like.  We would love to have you!

The “We All Fall Down” edition of the blogging initiative!

For the last week of the blogging initiative, we are going to try to push you slightly out of your comfort zone.

As teachers, we are striving to do good by our students. And often times, we post on our blogs things that worked well. Engaging activities, rich problems, neat teaching tips that we invented that save us time and energy, whatever. And as we go through our blog readers, we get inspired! Our minds whirr! And if you’re anything like… all of us… there’s a little tinny voice in your head saying: “Wow, I suck. Everyone else in the world is doing amazing things everyday in their classroom, and I’m falling down left and right. *Pout* *Sadface*”

But here’s the thing: we all are constantly making mistakes every day. Times where we could have made better choices. Mathematical errors that we accidentally teach our kids. Things we said to a colleague or student that wish we could have taken back. Terrible curricular sequencing decisions. Asking bad questions. Facilitating groups poorly. I don’t know about you, but I think I made about (give or take three) a bajillion mistakes each day.

ring

“We all fall down.”

And the thing is: people in the #MTBoS don’t make a point of regularly blogging about mistakes, errors in teaching, poor decisions. It’s compelling to have a great class/activity/moment and want to share it with others. For others, yes, but also for you. There’s a moment of pride when you hit “post.”

What I argue is that although less compelling, sharing those other moments — the failures — is important. For your own reflection, yes. But mainly for others. Yes, maybe others can learn from your mistakes. But I think that it could lead to something bigger: a normalizing of making mistakes/errors/failures as part of our own growth as teachers. Shite that doesn’t go well? Why does that have to be our own private shame? It’s normal. That’s what we want kids to do in their learning process, right? So we in the #MTBoS should do the same!

So here’s your task:

You are going to write a blogpost about one mistake/error/failure you made, and proudly and publicly share that with the world. OR… and this is more ambitious but wow would reading this keep us glued to the screen… keep a log of teaching failures for a day, a few days, or even the entire week… and then publish it!

We recognize that this prompt could make you feel deeply uncomfortable. So we wanted to give an alterna-prompt for you if this is absolutely beyond you right now. (And that is OK!)  If you are just not into writing about failures, you should take a photograph of something related to your teaching and write a post using that photograph as the central idea. This is super open-ended, and you should interpret it as you wish!

Deadline: Press submit by the end of the day Saturday, January 28, 2017.

Once you are finished with your blog post, fill out the form below and your blog post will be featured on this site next week!

Don’t forget to tweet your post out with the hashtags #MTBoS  #MtbosBlogsplosion

 

Week 1 Blog Post Round Up

Week 2 Blog Post Round Up

Week 3 Blog Post Round Up

 

If you want to know where some of the inspiration for this post came from, it was from a “CV of Failures” that was making it’s rounds around the twitterverse a number of months ago. Here’s an excerpt from an article about the CV:

failures

And here’s the article itself.

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Round #2 of the #MTBoSBlogsplosion

Welcome to the second week of the Explore the MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative! If you didn’t participate in Week 1 but want to jump into Week 2, we’d love to have you!

Years ago, Riley Lark spearheaded an amazingly awesome virtual conference on Soft Skills. It was in 2010 to be specific, and the blogging prompt was on something we don’t often talk about:

I’ve organized a ‘conference’ to focus more specifically on the soft skills we need to be effective teachers.  Not the killer worksheets, or the progressive grading systems, but on the skills of raising children.  This conference is a great opportunity for us to share the way we bring out the shy kids in our classes, handle teasing, build confidence, create opportunities for leadership, and acknowledge the beauty and significance of the blossoming lives for which we are responsible.

My contribution to this virtual conference was one of the hardest things for me to write. I spent days thinking about it, and after I had finished writing a long winded post, I realized how much veneer I had put on my thoughts, and how I am really crappy at soft skills. So I deleted it all and started over. I love kids and I love teaching, but these “soft skills” are hard. But they are central to being a master teacher.

So here’s your challenge…

This Week’s Theme:  Soft Skills

  1. Go look at that virtual conference. Read some of the blogposts whose summaries speak to you. And peruse the sample prompts Riley included at the bottom of this post calling for presenters to help you brainstorm ideas.
  2. Write your own blogpost on soft skills. It could be analytic or emotional. It could capture a teacher move or response you have, or it could be a story.
    (In my opinion, Rebecka Peterson is the master of soft skills, and she writes about them on the one-good-thing blog regularly. Not explicitly. But I learn about soft skills by reading about her moments, her feelings, her empathy, her graciousness. She shows, not tells.)
  3. Tweet out your blogpost! Be sure to include the hashtags  #MTBoS #MtbosBlogsplosion in your tweet!
  4.  Once you are finished with your blog post, fill out the form below and your blog post will be featured on this site next week!

Deadline: Press submit by the end of the day Saturday, January 14, 2017.

Week 3 of the 2016 Blogging Initiative!

We’re halfway through the blogging initiative! Huzzah!

This week, the blogging prompt is going to be around questioning.

Ages ago (in internet time, that would be 2010), Dan Meyer showed us an infamous example of a bad textbook question.

dog

Around that time, I was figuring out how to switch from saying “soooo… any questions?” to “what questions do you have?”

How we question — on assessments, verbally — and how students learn to question is an important part what we do on a daily basis. Good questioning can provoke class discussion, debate, uncover misconceptions, and invoke curiosity and wonder.

This blogging prompt is designed to help all of us think a bit more about our own questioning. Pick one of the following and blog about it!

  • You’re planning a lesson and you try to come up with super good question to ask to get kids to think about something. What is that question? Why did you phrase it the way you did? Why do you think it will prompt discussion/thinking?
  • You taught a lesson. You asked a question. How did it go? Flop? Success? Muse on why it turned out the way it did. Is there a way to improve the question?
  • You come up with a question. You realize there is a better way to ask it. You rewrite it. Talk about this.
  • A student asked a question that got you twitterpated. What was the question?
  • A student asked a question that really got other students thinking. What was the question?
  • A student asked a question and you didn’t know how to answer it well. Now class is over. Think about how you could have responded better.
  • A student asked a question. What did that question tell you about their thinking?
  • You write an awesome test question. Discuss why you think it’s awesome. If you gave it, how did your kids do. Did it elicit what you hoped? Is there a way to improve it?
  • You wrote a test question that sucked. Kids didn’t interpret it correctly, or there was something about it that didn’t quite work. Rewrite it.
  • You come up with a question. What is the purpose of the question? Who benefits from the question — you or the student(s)?
  • You have a great memory and remember a conversation you had with kids, an interesting back and forth. Type out that conversation!
  • Anything else that you can think of that will help you think about questioning. 

Deadline: Press submit by the end of the day Saturday, January 30, 2016.

If you’d like a little graphic to include in your post, here is a little whatchamacallit we made:

betterquestions.PNG

When you’ve written and published your blogpost:

  1. Tweet out the link to your blogpost with a short description, and include the #MTBoS hashtag.
  2. If you’re a mentee, email your mentor the link! And if you’re a mentor, read and comment on your mentee’s post!
  3. In the comments to this blogpost here, throw down the link to your blogpost and a short teaser.
  4. Look at the three comments that are listed above your comment. Click on those three links, read the three blogposts, and talk to the authors by leaving a comment on their blogposts (not here).

And that’s all!

PS. If you enjoyed thinking about questioning, there is a collective #MTBoS blog you can check out! It is called BetterQs, and you can read posts on it, and if you want to become an occasional or regular author, just click on “Want to Join?” at the top of the blog and fill out the form!

 

Week 1 of the 2016 Blogging Initiative!

Welcome to the new year! I’m guessing that winter break feels like a distant memory… and we’re back in the swing of things. Refreshed! (Maybe.) And if you’re anything like me, you’re already waiting for Spring Break! Wooo hooo!

Right now we’re going to start the blogging part of the #MTBoS blogging initiative! For those who are new-ish to blogging, don’t worry… We have a gentle introduction which only asks you to write four easy blogposts, one a week. What’s great about this is that we’ll be doing this together! For those who are more experience with blogging, this is going to be an opportunity for you to blog in a community effort! And if you are a #MTBoS mentor for someone with a new blog, you can help ’em dip their toes in and see hey, it’s not scary! It can actually be fun!

With that, our week one blogging challenge:

We often get caught up in our day teaching, and often don’t take the time to be in the present. So we have two options that with that goal in mind. Choose whichever floats your boat and blog about it!

Option 1: We rarely take the time to stop and smell the roses. Even on the most disastrous of days, good things happen. And these good things, when you’re on the lookout for them, pop up. All. The. Time. So for one day (heck, do it for many days), keep a lookout for the small good moments during your day and blog about them. We bet that by keeping an eye out for the good, your whole day will be even better!

Option 2: A few years ago, some people in the #MTBoS wanted to share what their teaching lives were like. Partly because we all work in different schools, and so we wanted to get a glimpse of our friends-in-action. At the same time, we also wanted to battle against the idea that teaching is easy. We wanted to share what it is like to be a teacher with non-teachers! So we all blogged about a single day of teaching — from start to finish. So for the first week of the blogging initiative, we thought you blogging about a day in your lives would be a great way to start getting to know each other!

There you go! You have two options. Your blogpost can be as long or short as you want. However we’d love it if in your blogpost you could include at least one image/picture to make it more fun to read! It can be of you, of your good things, you documenting your day, whatever!

Deadline: Press submit by the end of the day Saturday, January 16, 2016.

If you’d like a little graphic to include in your post, here are some little whatchamacallits we made:

When you’ve written and published your blogpost:

  1. Tweet out the link to your blogpost with a short description, and include the #MTBoS hashtag.
  2. If you’re a mentee, email your mentor the link! And if you’re a mentor, read and comment on your mentee’s post!
  3. In the comments to this blogpost here, throw down the link to your blogpost and a short teaser.
  4. Look at the three comments that are listed above your comment. Click on those three links, read the three blogposts, and talk to the authors by leaving a comment on their blogposts (not here).

Lastly, the #MTBoS can be a lot of information. So many blogs to read, not enough time! So we highly recommend signing up for the Global Math Department newsletter (click here to do so! see a sample here! here’s the GMD webpage!). Once a week, someone in the #MTBoS looks through what the community has produced, and shares some of their favorite things.

And that’s all!

Our second week’s blogging prompt will go up next week!

PS. If you enjoyed doing option 1, the #MTBoS has a place where you can share your one good thing. Check out the blog; we’d love for you to consider becoming a regular or semi-regular contributor (there is a link at the top of the blog with information on how to add yourself to the blog). If you enjoyed doing option 2, and want to include your blogpost in an archive of many other “day in the life” posts by math educators, please consider submitting your blogpost to the DITL tumblr (site here; submission form here).

 

Mission #8: Sharing is Caring in the MTBoS

It’s amazing. You’re amazing. You joined in the Explore the MathTwitterBlogosphere set of missions, and you’ve made it to the eighth week. It’s Sam Shah here, and whether you only did one or two missions, or you were able to carve out the time and energy to do all seven so far, I am proud of you.

I’ve seen so many of you find things you didn’t know were out there, and you tried them out. Not all of them worked for you. Maybe the twitter chats fell flat, or maybe the whole twitter thing wasn’t your thang. But I think I can be pretty confident in saying that you very likely found at least one thing that you found useful, interesting, and usable.

With that in mind, we have our last mission, and it is (in my opinion) the best mission. Why? Because you get to do something to help someone else. A random act of kindness.

sharingiscaring

We want you think about something you saw in the MathTwitterBlogosphere that you think might be useful to a colleague, a department head, an administrator, a student, whatever. And then let them know about it.

Some ideas:

  • You have a colleague teaching Precalculus, and you saw a blog author that has posted a lot of good resources and thinking about Precalculus. You email this resource and why they might find it useful.
  • You have a math coach who may be interested in the Math Mistakes blog. You share it with this math coach!
  • You saw an issue of Math Munch that might spark some interest to one of your particular students (or maybe all of them).
  • You saw an activity on fractions that your middle school colleagues would looooove. You share the wealth!
  • You think a fellow teacher might benefit from joining twitter. You help them take the leap.
  • You attended a Global Math Department meeting and you thought of someone who should have been there! You send the recording to that person.
  • You belong to an AP Statistics list-serv, and there is a great activity you saw on a blog. You email the list-serv.
  • You did an activity inspired by something in the MTBoS. You share that activity with another teacher in your school who teaches the same subject.
  • You ask for 5 minutes in a department meeting to share what you have learned about the online math teacher community.
  • ANYTHING ELSE! Just share, my little Care Bears, share!

In other words, spread the word about something in the MTBoS that you found. You should let someone else who doesn’t know about the stuff we’re doing (yes, we: if you weren’t before, you’re one of us now! mwahahahaha!) see it, and know that it’s out there for them too!

This is the coda to the work you’ve done over the past two months. We wanted to show you what was out there because all that good stuff out there helped us and inspired us as teachers. Now we want you to be in our shoes. We want you to show others what is out there in the MTBoS that helped you and inspired you as a teacher!

pay it forwardYour Final Mission

  1. Share!
  2. Write a blog post talking about what you shared, who you shared it with, and why you shared it!
  3. Tweet out your blog post. Include the #MTBoS hashtag.
  4. Include your blogpost in the comments here and then read and comment on the blog posts of the three commenters directly above you. Be sure that you are commenting on their blog and not here.
  5. Please fill out our survey to help guide us in future missions.  We promise, it’s very short.  Don’t skip the survey as we are planning on compiling all of your fabulous blogs and virtual filing cabinets so we can share them with the world!  🙂

If the survey below is not viewable, please click here. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14iPYN03iRASddG2rurlUgZcXSLCNGfpjztC3PpE4udE/viewform

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14iPYN03iRASddG2rurlUgZcXSLCNGfpjztC3PpE4udE/viewform

 

Mission #1: The Power of The Blog

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Sam Shah here, and I’m beyond floored by how many people are interested in participating in Exploring the MTBoS. Floored, and overjoyed.

wowie

[this was a picture from my birthday, but I pretty much look like this all the time]

I honestly thought we’d find a few people out there who were interested in this beautiful, amazing group of math teachers — and BAM! There are a zillion of you, from all over, teaching all sorts of different things, all with differing experiences with blogs and twitter. I can’t tell you how much my heart swelled when I was reading through all the comments of people who signed up. I’m in heaven.

Now let’s see if we can’t make this worthwhile for you.

Almost all of you have read a few math teacher blogs — and that’s what brought you here. So we thought we’d center the first week around blogging… Each week a different one of us (Sam Shah, Tina Cardone, Justin Lanier, and Julie Reulbach) are going to be leading up a mission. This week (obviously) is my week.

So let’s go! Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

Mission #1: The Power of The Blog

For this Explore the MathTwitterBlogosphere program, you’re going to be doing a bunch of different challenges. Each of them is going to end with you doing a little reflection related to what you did. Thus, it’s important (at least for these few weeks) to have a blog to write on. Although we are going to be asking you to keep a blog for these 8 weeks, we are not going to be making you continue it. If you know me, you know that my current mantra about this online community is “There’s no right way to participate in this weird disjointed passionate community. Do what moves you. Do what makes sense for you.”

Part of this experience going outside of your comfort zone and exploring various things to see if any of them will prove useful for you. So try out keeping and writing in this blog for the next few weeks and see how it goes. If it turns out you find it useful and want to continue posting regularly, great. If not, that’s just as great. You have to do what’s useful for you! That being said…

We have two different missions for you, depending on if you have a blog or if you don’t.

If you don’t have a blog, look for the section of this post titled “ACK! I need a blog! Stat!” and only read that. Just skip to that part. Like now! GO!

If you already have a blog, look immediately below to find the section titled “I have a blog… Now what, Mister?!” 

I have a blog… Now what, Mister?!

Your mission is threefold.

1. You are going to write a blogpost on one of the following two prompts.

  • What is one of your favorite open-ended/rich problems?  How do you use it in your classroom? (If you have a problem you have been wanting to try, but haven’t had the courage or opportunity to try it out yet, write about how you would or will use the problem in your classroom.)

  • What is one thing that happens in your classroom that makes it distinctly yours? It can be something you do that is unique in your school… It can be something more amorphous… However you want to interpret the question! Whatever!

Just pick one prompt and post about it!

<rant> Now some part of you might be thinking: my rich problem isn’t rich enough! I’m embarrassed by it! I am new to teaching — so my classroom isn’t really distinctly mine yet. So I don’t have a perfect answer to the prompts! If that happens to you, just write about something similar. But I said this last year when getting people to write their first post: If you feel like you aren’t awesome at teaching, welcome to the club. If you feel constantly like everything else you see out there is better, welcome to the club. So if you’re new to teaching and have material that you’re proud of it, post it! We’re all starting this at different points, but the one thing I’ve learned is that I can steal ideas or be inspired or commiserate with first year teachers as easily as a veteran teacher. So try not to be self-conscious and obsessive. We’re all here to reflect on what we do, and to learn from each other. We’re not trying to be the best and we’re not out to impress each other. We’re out to get better. No one in the mathtwitterblogosphere is judging you, but yourself. So if you’re a sucky writer, own it and don’t worry about not being Tolstoy. If you feel like what you want to write has already been said on a lot of other places, write it anyway. This is you, for you, by you. Phew. </rant> 

2. You are going to write a comment on this blogpost. Your comment will say:

Your name (or pseudonym, if you’re using one)
Your Twitter handle (if you have one)
Your blog name
The title of your post
The URL of your post
One (or two) sentences from your post to capture a reader’s interest

Example:
My name is Sam Shah (@samjshah) and I’m blogging at _Continuous Everywhere But Differentiable Nowhere_. The title of my blogpost is “Senior Letters 2012” (http://samjshah.com/2012/05/31/senior-letter-2012/).

To whet your appetite: “Each year at the end of the school year, I say goodbye to my seniors. And each year, I’ve written a letter to the seniors with some imparting thoughts as they go off in the world.”

3. Once you’ve posted your comment advertising your blogpost, look at the three previous comments (the ones above yours). Read the posts of these three people and write a comment each of their blogs! If you are one of those eager beavers who are the first three to post, just find three comments as people begin to post!

Seriously, that’s it for this week for you! Trust us — we’re going to have more in the coming weeks. But we’re starting with the basics!

ACK! I need a blog! Stat!

You made it here! Phew! Now for your mission. Your mission has a few parts… but don’t be daunted…

1. Come up with a blog title. It can be funny, it can be serious, it can make no sense, whatever. However, my one admonition: don’t spend more than 10 minutes coming up with this blog title. The more you struggle to choose it, the more annoying it is going to be, and I’m afraid you’re going to use this hassle of coming up with a blog title to be enough to stop you from blogging. This cannot happen. Not on my watch! So 10 minutes is all you have.

2. Start a blog. If you have no idea how to do this, go to my favorite blogging site wordpress.com and get a blog! Here’s an awesome two minute video showing the process.


The link is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N0zXEwtjCI

3. Write a short blogpost on one of the following prompts. Yup, you’re already ready to go. See how easy setting up a blog was? EASY!:

  • Who are you? Introduce yourself to the MathTwitterBlogosphere! How’d you get into teaching? What do you like most about your job?
  • What is one of your favorite open-ended/rich problems?  How do you use it in your classroom? (If you have a problem you have been wanting to try, but haven’t had the courage or opportunity to try it out yet, write about how you would or will use the problem in your classroom.)

  • What is one thing that happens in your classroom that makes it distinctly yours? It can be something you do that is unique in your school… It can be something more amorphous… However you want to interpret the question! Whatever!
  • What brought you to the MTBoS? What do you hope to get out of participating in the #MTBoS?

I suppose it can be a long blogpost too. Whatever floats your boat. If you’re adventurous, bonus points (okay, there aren’t really points) and twenty unicorn rainbows (there are real, however!) if you include an image or a video or a link.

<rant> Now some part of you might be thinking: my rich problem isn’t rich enough! I’m embarrassed by it! I am new to teaching — so my classroom isn’t really distinctly mine yet. So I don’t have a perfect answer to the prompts! If that happens to you, just write about something similar. But I said this last year when getting people to write their first post: If you feel like you aren’t awesome at teaching, welcome to the club. If you feel constantly like everything else you see out there is better, welcome to the club. So if you’re new to teaching and have material that you’re proud of it, post it! We’re all starting this at different points, but the one thing I’ve learned is that I can steal ideas or be inspired or commiserate with first year teachers as easily as a veteran teacher. So try not to be self-conscious and obsessive. We’re all here to reflect on what we do, and to learn from each other. We’re not trying to be the best and we’re not out to impress each other. We’re out to get better. No one in the mathtwitterblogosphere is judging you, but yourself. So if you’re a sucky writer, own it and don’t worry about not being Tolstoy. If you feel like what you want to write has already been said on a lot of other places, write it anyway. This is you, for you, by you. Phew. </rant>

4. You are going to write a comment on this blogpost. Your comment will say:

Your name (or pseudonym, if you’re using one)
Your Twitter handle (if you have one)
Your blog name
The title of your post
The URL of your post
One (or two) sentences from your post to capture a reader’s interest

Example:
My name is Sam Shah (@samjshah) and I’m blogging at _Continuous Everywhere But Differentiable Nowhere_. The title of my blogpost is “Senior Letters 2012” (http://samjshah.com/2012/05/31/senior-letter-2012/).

To whet your appetite: “Each year at the end of the school year, I say goodbye to my seniors. And each year, I’ve written a letter to the seniors with some imparting thoughts as they go off in the world.”

5. Once you’ve posted your comment advertising your blogpost, look at the three previous comments (the ones above yours). Read the posts of these three people and write a comment each of their blogs! If you are one of those eager beavers who are the first three to post, just find three comments as people begin to post!

We know this is a lot, asking you: hey, start a blog. But you did it! And you’re going to try it out! And for that, we are proud mama and papa bears! You are awesomesauce!

** Also, please be sure to comment on other bloggers posts on THEIR blogs instead of here.  Everyone loves getting comments on their blogs!