Resources

Your tasks:

  1. Explore some websites to use with your students.
  2. Visit some websites for your own professional growth.
  3. Comment on this post about what else you’ve discovered.

The MathTwitterBlogosphere is filled with all sorts of amazing resources. You’ve certainly run across some of them as you’ve browsed blogs and Twitter, but there are always still more to find. Here are a few of our favorites. If you discover others in your explorations please leave them in the comments!

At the NCTM booth we had informational pages on many resources. Check out the static pages and then follow the links below to the interactive version!

These are some sites that are fun for you and your students to engage with:

Here’s a site to share with parents to help them engage their kids in mathematical conversation and play: Talking Math With Your Kids.

Analyze some Math Mistakes teachers have submitted, work with other commenters to pinpoint what the student’s misunderstanding is and brainstorm how to help the student correct the mistake. Learn and share how to help students avoid some of their mistakes caused by lack of conceptual development at Nix the Tricks.

When you’re frustrated with all the mistakes students make, remind yourself why you teach by reading several teachers’ One Good Thing from each day of school. Over the summer, refill your enthusiasm repository to overflowing by attending Twitter Math Camp.

Are you a first year teacher? Here are some letters to you: Letter to a New Teacher. Even as a eighth year teacher I enjoy reading them to remind myself of what is important.  This is just one of many Math Themed Memes, coined #matheme that people have participated in.

On Tuesday nights our community holds Global Math Department meetings via webinar. It’s the department and PD you’ve always wished for. You can attend in your pajamas.

If you’d like a window inside a variety of math classrooms, in two minute clips, check out Mathagogy. And here’s another window inside an even wider variety of (mostly math) classrooms, in full-day recaps: A Day in the Life of a Teacher.

Thanks for exploring with us and keep on sharing!

Organize

Your tasks:

  1. Ask someone how they stay organized in the MTBoS.
  2. Choose a way to stay on top of your blog reading.
  3. Choose a way to stay on top of your Twitter.
  4. Comment on this post about what you’ve set up.

So you’re reading blogs! You’re tweeting! Awesome. We knew you could!

Hopefully you’ve found some resources you like and some voices online that resonate with you.

So how do you keep in touch with all of this? How do you keep pace with all of the tweets and posts and ideas that your online colleagues are generating? Let’s talk about tools and time.

But first: Everyone wrangles the MTBoS differently. We all have our favorite tools and methods and apps and haunts. You’ll figure out what works for you. A great first step is just knowing what all is available and possible. The run-down below highlights a few, but you should really get a diversity of opinions from people who you suspect might operate similarly to you. So your first assignment is to ask someone how they stay organized in the MTBoS. You can tweet to them, leave them a comment on their blog, write them an email, or ask them in person. We grant you 100% permission. 😀

Tools:

There are a number of tools that you might use to help collect and streamline your online feasting.

There are better ways to keep up with blogs that you like than just visiting them on occasion to see what’s new. For blogs that you like, you might subscribe to them by email. Whenever the blogger publishes a new post, you’ll get an email with the blog post pasted right there in it. How conveeeeenient!

You can often find

You can often find “follow by email” button in blog sidebars, like this one on Kate Nowak’s blog.

As you follow more blogs, you may want to have a special place for blog posts other than your email inbox. That’s what an RSS reader is for. Whenever someone publishes a new post, the RSS fairy pushes out magical dustings of…well, I don’t know all of the technical details of RSS. The important thing is that a RSS reader is like an inbox for blog posts. It gathers every new blog post from blogs you want to keep track of.

feedly

An RSS reader: an inbox for blog posts. This reader is called feedly.

There are lots of different RSS readers. I use Feedly, Tina uses Digg Reader, and others like The Old Reader. You’ll find one that works for you.

For Twitter, there are many options for reading your feed. You can use the twitter.com website. On computers, there are two clients that Twitter produces, Twitter and Tweetdeck. Twitter is simpler, while Tweetdeck allows you to have multiple columns. There are also clients that third-party companies have created, like Hootsuite, and there are also a variety of phone apps available for you to keep up with tweets on your mobile device.

All of these are a little different and can be configured in bunches of ways. Find the right combination for you!

Time:

Having a MTBoS routine can be helpful. I mean, you’re going to fall into some kind of behavior pattern anyway, so why not take some conscious control over it?

Maybe you’ll have a weekly check-in time. Maybe you’ll look at your Twitter feed every morning. Maybe you’ll have as a goal to read one blog post a week and comment on it. Maybe there’s a regular Twitter chat that you’d like to make a regular appearance at.

Who knows what you will do! You’ll have to figure it out. Get ideas and opinions from others about how they wrangle things, and just pay attention to your own habits and what feels productive, uplifting, and energizing to you. Participating in the MTBoS is not an obligation. You’re doing it for you—for your professional growth and to be a part of a inspiring math ed community. Also, know that if you take a long break from the MTBoS, you will be able to pick things right back up whenever you return, and people will be glad to see you.

Strategies Shared:

Let me leave you with a couple of blog posts by MTBoSers who have shared some thought about their own systems and strategies for managing their online resources and feeds:

Know of one that’s not listed here? Please leave a link on the comments!

Once you’re armed with an organization strategy, it’s time to discover even more resources!

Twitter

Your tasks:

  1. Pick a handle and a profile image and start a Twitter account.
  2. Find some people to start following on Twitter.
  3. Write your first tweets!
  4. Tweet to @ExploreMTBoS. Say hi and let us know you’re up and going!
  5. Comment on this post and include your Twitter handle and a thought about Twitter.
  6. Try out some of the Twitter mini-missions from the bottom of this post.

You made it to task two! I hope you enjoyed browsing some blogs already. You didn’t read and comment on a blog post yet? Not to worry. Feel free to go back and do that now, and leave a comment on the post. Or even better, wait until after you’ve gotten started on Twitter. Then you can tweet about the blog posts you discover! Reading blogs is not a one time adventure. That mission was the beginning of what will hopefully be a long and informative journey of reading and sharing.

Now, let’s focus on Twitter. Blogs are monologues. You get to share a complete idea with an introduction and a conclusion. And a blog post is static. People can comment but the post itself is just one person sharing a thing. Twitter is about conversations. You get to share snippets of ideas, build understanding, ask questions and it all happens much closer to real time. For the first week, some of you read blog posts that were written several years ago. I wouldn’t recommend trying to catch up on tweets from more than a day ago. That’s not because they aren’t interesting, but because you can only read so much. Twitter is more like stopping by the faculty room than reading a book. Sure, I’m curious what they talked about during first lunch, but I’m here during second lunch, so I’m going to listen to and join in on the conversation happening right now.

Twitter is chatting with the world. You may only know of Twitter as a place for pop stars or people tweeting their breakfast photos, but we promise that the MTBoS sub-community on Twitter is very different.  It’s microblogging. It’s the world’s best teacher’s lounge. It’s a free-flowing and wide-ranging conversational tapestry, a place to ask a pressing question, let off some steam, share and reshare resources, find inspiration and encouragement, and crack hilarious jokes. It’s a great place to tune in, vet an idea, and let your colors shine through.

Get Signed Up:

IMG_6385You’ll need a name to go by on Twitter. This is your username or handle. It’s that thing that starts with an @ that you always see people advertising. It starts like that because if I want to speak to Justin, I want my message directed at Justin: @j_lanier. If he wants to reply back to me, he’ll start his message @crstn85. So, if I want to talk to you, you need a name. It could be your full name, a funny phrase, something mathy, or anything else. I stuck with the username I’ve had since AIM when I was 10; not the brightest idea since I no longer go by Cristina so no one knows what my jumble of letters means. Justin also has some regrets—that underscore is two screens away on the phone keyboard. However, we’re both surviving just fine. Rest assured, your username of choice will not make or break your experience on Twitter. One thing we were both successful at was choosing a short username. A tweet has a 140 character length limit, and that can get tough if you’re trying to talk to three people and one of them is @MathyMcMatherso!

Once you have a name, you’ll need a profile image, or avatar. We would love to see your smiling face—especially if we met you in person at NCTM, because it will help us connect you to the person we talked to. But it doesn’t have to be a photo of you—any square image will do.

avatar2

Use your face,

avatar1

or an image,

avatar3

or your face with an image!

Don’t put this off until later! If you don’t add an image you’ll stay the dreaded egg and people are less likely to follow you because you don’t look any different from a spam bot—a robo-account that sends unwanted messages rampantly. You can change your profile image as often as you want, so there’s no pressure to pick the perfect photo today.

Armed with these two pieces for your new digital identity, head on over to twitter.com and create your account! You’ll want to fill in your profile information for the same reason you want an image, and the same fact holds true – you can edit your profile info whenever you like. If you’re not sure about being public or private read more about a few teacher’s choices on that. Public is certainly preferable as you get started, but you should know (and follow) your school’s social media guidelines. Anecdote: my PreCalc students googled me after I shared that I would be presenting at NCTM. When I returned one of them said, “I wanted to follow you on Twitter but I thought I should wait until graduation.” Teaching kids proper boundaries and not writing anything you wouldn’t want a student or parent to run across are good things to live by regardless. Having a public Twitter account doesn’t change that.

One step in signing up for Twitter is following people. Note that Twitter tries to get you to follow pop stars and corporate brands, but you can skip this step if you want to. Or just unfollow them again right afterwards. In terms of accounts you might actually want to follow here are some suggestions to help get you started:

  • Follow @ExploreMTBoS.
  • Search the MTBoS directory for people who teach the same stuff you do or who have interests that match yours.
  • There are 188 people who wrote their twitter handle on the We Are MTBoS poster at NCTM Boston.
  • Many math professional organizations—like NCTM and affiliates—have Twitter accounts.
  • Check out this list of tweeps (Explorers Spring 2015) – they are recent converts!
  • And of course, you might look to see who the people you follow choose to follow.
Capture convo

If you are only following Anna you won’t see anyone else’s answer to her question.

Once you get started reading your Twitter feed you’ll be able to refine by only following people who tweet things you’re interested in. Some people mix in photos of their (adorable) children, others get really excited about sportsball events. If you can build a balance of elementary, middle school, high school, and college teachers, as well as math education researchers, you will get the full benefit of the diverse perspectives of our community. A great way to build a well-rounded feed is to see who talks to each other. If you notice that you’re only getting to see part of a conversation, follow all the people mentioned in the tweet and your feed will suddenly be filled with a complete conversation.

Start Tweeting:

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Here’s how to tweet to the @ExploreMTBoS account.

Once you’ve gotten past all the sign-up requirements, it’s time to celebrate with your inaugural tweet! Say something, anything. We won’t take the glory of your first tweet from you, but please make one of your tweets to us – @ExploreMTBoS. Introduce yourself as an explorer and share something about yourself. Leave your Twitter handle and any questions or thoughts you have in the comments of this post as well.

Since Twitter has a character limit there is some shorthand that happens. The forced brevity is awesome for helping you edit down to a single precise thought, but it also means that we use abbreviations for many things. Additionally, since there isn’t space for a pleasant opener, tweets can seem terse. You’ll learn to interpret tone over time, for now assume everything is meant kindly. Please, please ask if you have questions, about abbreviations or anything else! Anyone in this community is happy to help you navigate.

For Twitter to really work, you are going to want to commit to trying it out for a week or more, and that means hanging out. If you just sign up, tweet the mission, and then sign out, you aren’t going to be having mini-discussions and reading other peoples’s mini-discussions! So for this week, at the very least, check your Twitter feed regularly! Write to people and reply to people. Toss out your random musings. Really give it a chance. See what it’s like —and we hope you’ll see what’s caused so many math teachers to fall in love with Twitter. Next week we’ll tell you about how some people organize the information overload so you won’t be permanently overwhelmed!

And now, time for a FAQ. We will continue to develop this FAQ from questions in the comments and the questions that come to @ExploreMTBoS. Just like in class, if you’re wondering, chances are many other people are wondering the same thing. Ask now so we can fill you all in!

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Who can see my tweet?

If you’re public, potentially anyone. But that doesn’t mean that they will. People mostly read their feed. Your tweet shows up in someone’s feed if they are following you. People also read their mentions. Your tweet shows up in someone’s mentions if you include their @name. Check out part 2 of this guide if you’re ready for the nitty gritty details.

What’s with the #?

When there are a lot of people talking, it can be hard to keep track of them all. Hashtags like #NCTMBoston and #MTBoS let people search for a specific topic and see everyone who is talking about it. This is a great way to find new people to follow, or to follow along with an event without having to follow all the people there. Fun fact: the # has many names, including octothorpe! (History of the octothorpe via video and podcast).

What are chats?

Some people like having conversations in real time rather than spread out across the day. They meet to discuss specific topics at a certain time. They use hashtags as well, so everyone participating searches for the hashtag to see everyone involved in the conversation. These conversations can happen really fast; if you’re feeling brave, jump on in! This week there will be special #MTBoS chats to help you get your feet wet.

Capture

Fun things to try as you get started or as you move from lurking to engaged. Do a few or do them all!

Twitter Mini-missions:

  • Announce and introduce yourself in a tweet and include the hashtag #MTBoS.
  • Pick three people you follow, but with whom you haven’t interacted—recently or ever. Say hello and introduce yourself to them, beginning your tweet with @theirname.
  • Pick three people who follow you, but with whom you haven’t interacted—recently or ever. Say hello and introduce yourself to them, beginning your tweet with @theirname.
  • Open up the #MTBoS feed and peruse it. Retweet something that you find compelling.
  • Announce a blog post you’ve written, new or old. Include #MTBoS.
  • Share a blog post that you’ve read recently that blew you away. Include #MTBoS.
  • Share a question that’s been on your mind about your classroom practice. Include #MTBoS.
  • Take a photo of your chalk-or-smartboard, or of a piece of student work. Tweet it and include #MTBoS.
  • Share an online math resource you really love. Include #MTBoS.
  • Tweet something mundane about your life. Include #MTBoS!
  • #makeupawackyhashtagandtrytogetittocatchon.
  • Respond to a famous person or guru’s tweet.
  • Tweet a favorite quotation or fact about mathematics. #MTBoS it up.
  • Share something awesome about your day of teaching. #MTBoS.
  • Share something hard about your days of teaching. #MTBoS
  • Open up the #MTBoS feed and find some new tweeps to follow.
  • And while you’re there, send a reply to a few interesting tweets you see.
  • Tweet a tweet that’s exactly 140 characters long. #sosweet
  • Think of someone whose tweets you appreciate. On Friday, give them a #FF (Follow Friday) shoutout.

And by the time you’ve done all those things you’ll be wondering how everyone keeps track of all these amazing ideas! Read on to get some help organizing everything.

Blogs

Your tasks:

  1. Read a blog post

  2. Leave a comment on it.

  3. Share about the blog post you read in a comment on this post.

Welcome to our MTBoS Orientation! Below you’ll find an activity to complete, and detailed instructions on how to do it.

In addition to instructions, we’ll also weave in further ways to pursue the activity. Two things we’re aiming for are helping you to connect to quality resources that you’ll find helpful in your classroom, and helping you to connect with other teachers online that you ”click” with. You’ll find ways to push out in both these directions. Everyone’s different—how much prior experience they have online, what their classroom looks like, the areas they hope to grow in, and their personal tastes. We hope you’ll find experiences online that speak to you, and that we can help.

All right, reading a blog post. Let’s look at a few places online where you can find a blog post to read.

1. How to Find a Blog Post to Read:

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a) On the MathTwitterBlogosphere Weebly site, you’ll find some lists of teachers who blog about different age groups and courses, as well as by special interests. They’re a great place to find some blogs to begin reading. You can also check out the site’s page of A Few Good Blog Posts.

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b) Maybe there’s a specific topic you’d like to read about, like quadratics or division or similar triangles. Then you can head over to the MTBoS Search Engine and type that term in. Scroll through the results, pick a post and read it. Not sure what to search for? Random Post button!

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c) Maybe you’d like to read a post by someone with a particular profile—like someone who’s a math coach, or who’s interested in flipped classrooms, or who lives in your state/region/province. Then head over to new MTBoS Directory and poke around for someone. Take a look at their blog and read a post. And maybe while you’re at the directory, you’ll add yourself to it!

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d) For each of the past couple of years, Geoff Krall has compiled and curated a Math Blogging Retrospectus. Community members submit some of their favorite posts of the year—it’s a great place to find some great posts to read! If you find a post you like, definitely go and check out the author’s blog.

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e) If you have some spare time, get lost down the rabbit hole of blog rolls. Many bloggers keep a list of the blogs they enjoy reading in a list on the side of their blog. One of the best ways of finding new blog posts and bloggers is to springboard from blogrolls or other mentions of blogs by bloggers whose work you enjoy.

f) Maybe you already have a blog that you enjoy reading, but there are old posts that you’ve never gotten around to reading. You could take this as a chance to do a deep dive into their archive. Or if you’re on Twitter, maybe there’s someone there whose tweets you enjoy, but you’ve never read their blog. Here’s your chance to see what they can do with more than 140 characters!

2. How to Leave a Comment on a Post:

When you visit a blog, it’s usually a whole page of individual blog posts. In order to comment, you’ll need to be on the page of a specific post, which you can get to by clicking on the title of that blog post. When you scroll down to the bottom of a post, there will be a prompt that says something like “leave a comment” or “leave a reply.” It will ask you for some information. It’s your call if you want to use your real name or come up with a fun pseudonym. Listing your website is optional, don’t feel bad about skipping it. And don’t worry, your email address will not be published with your comment.

When you comment on a blog post, you can write a question to the author, share a related experience or a resource you like, or just express your appreciation to the author.

Maybe the author or another commenter will respond to your comment. You can always return to the blog post at a later time in order to check. If you’d like, you can receive a notification when additional comments on a post are added. There should be a checkbox underneath the comment box giving you the option to “check here for notification of follow up comments.” It’s definitely worth giving it a try!

Making a comment can sometimes hit a snag:

  • You might not see your comment show up on a post right away. Don’t worry: often bloggers moderate the comments on their blog, which means they approve comments before they show up on posts.
  • It can sometimes be tricky to “log in” in order to post a comment. Depending on the platform the blog author uses, you might need to have an account of some kind in order to comment.
  • If you’re not careful, you might hit “back” on your browser, and your comment might get deleted. As a precaution, sometimes you might choose to compose a comment that’s on the long side in another document, and then cut and paste it to the comment box.

If you run into any trouble leaving comments somewhere, feel free to get in touch with us. Email is one way: exploremtbos@gmail.com

3. How to Leave a Comment Here:

Don’t just comment on the blog you read! Once you’ve read a post, come back here to this post and comment on it as well, down below. (The same process applies.) With your comment, you’ll be sharing what you find with your fellow MTBoS explorers. In the comment, include the link to the blog—just copy and paste it—and let us know what you liked about it. Have a look around to see if any of the blog posts shared by the other commenters are compelling to you, and maybe go check some out. That’s another great way to find new blogs—recommendations from fellow travelers. You might even go for extra credit and read and respond to several blog posts!

Have a great time finding some blog posts that inspire and engage you. When you’re ready, click on to task two to get started on Twitter!

MTBoS Booth at NCTM Boston

tldr: There’s going to be a MTBoS booth at NCTM Boston! We could use your help in the following ways:

  • Sometime soon, you can tweet on the hashtag #WhyMTBoS a reason why the MTBoS is great.
  • If you’re attending NCTM Boston, you can sign up to spend time staffing the booth.
  • If there’s an MTBoS project or endeavor that would be great to highlight at the booth, let us know about it!
  • Let us borrow your internet browsing device for NCTM— iPads would be excellent.

And we’ll be running a new Explore MTBoS online excursion after NCTM Boston, so watch this space!


As you might have seen, on Sunday we tweet-announced some small parts of our booth plans and made some requests:

You also may have noticed that these tweets came from @ExploreMTBoS and that we’ve woken up this blog. Did we pique your interest? We hope so!

 The Math Twitter Blogosphere has an official booth in the exhibit hall at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Like, table, banner, curtains, chairs, the whole deal! This booth might serve many purposes:

  • Let’s meet at the MTBoS booth and decide where to go for dinner!
  • OMG, I lost my dongle. Can someone pretty please run a Mac adapter to the MTBoS booth that I can borrow for my presentation?
  • I heard Christopher is working the booth at 3:00. I hope he’ll sign my shapes book download!!

But the real goal of the booth is to share the wonders of our community with the wider world of math teachers. The hope is that the booth will be an entry point for teachers who might not find our online community otherwise. But this community is vast and multi-faceted. A two minute spiel at the booth or a handout of a few resources is a great first step, but there’s so much more to see! So, we will be running a new Explore MTBoS event after NCTM to help people explore and participate in our community. Stay tuned!

To convince people they want to do that, we need some help:

If you aren’t attending NCTM, we still need your help! You can tweet or comment why you participate in this community (use #WhyMTBoS so we can find your tweet). And you can give suggestions of MTBoS projects and endeavors to highlight and items to have on hand in our booth space. 

If you’re attending NCTM, you can sign up for a time slot to work the booth. And you can also come by the booth early on to grab a #MTBoS sticker to alert other teachers that you’re in the know—because you don’t need to be standing under a banner to talk to people about why having on online math teaching community is great!

Which sticker will you choose?!

Which sticker will you choose?!

So what will the booth be like? Picture this: You’re walking up and down the aisles of the exhibit hall and you spot an interesting banner:

#MTBoS: Math Twitter Blogosphere

There’s a live twitter feed projected onto the curtain tracking the #NCTMBoston and #MTBoS hashtags. On one end of the table there’s an array of business cards and stickers representing many of the projects in our community. There’s a stack of sturdy info sheets to browse at the table, highlighting many aspects of our community (e.g. Twitter chats, TMC, Global Math). Plus there will be books to flip through and enticing baskets of prizes for raffling. (Note: we won’t sell anything at the booth because taxes and complicated stuff.)

Here’s a run-down of our plan for the booth so far. Please let us know if you have some specifics to add in or a new idea that could be incorporated!

  • Lovely and welcoming decor
    • A big blank hanging poster for people to sign with their twitter handles, blogs, names, and greetings.
    • #WhyMTBoS curtain mini-posters (half size sheets with color photos of avatars)
    • Poster of MTBoS events and meet-ups happening during NCTMBoston (including Shadow Con: Thursday, 5pm, Room 258A)
    • Schedule of who is working the booth, and when
    • Schedule of NCTM presenters who are involved in the MTBoS
    • Schedule of MTBoS presenters at other conferences
  • Browsable things
    • Foam-core info objects (in a pile or magazine holder)
      • Schedule of the Twitter Chats with some avatars and topics
      • Global Math schedule and highlights
      • One-stop Resources
      • Samples of things like printouts of visual patterns that people can hold (and toothpicks to play with the toothpick patterns?)
      • Tweets about #WhyMTBoS (more of them!)
      • Tweet-ups (including social events at NCTM’s)
      • Announcement and description of upcoming Explore MTBoS event
    • Projection from tweetdeck onto the curtain or a large paper, allow people to tweet questions as @ExploreMTBoS
    • A computer or two (ideally tablets) (Can we borrow yours?)
      • with feedly up (and matheme and virtual filing cabinets)
      • tweetdeck open with #NCTM and #MTBoS
      • people can ask questions from @ExploreMTBoS
    • Copies of Nix the Trix, Common Core Math for Dummies, Powerful Problem Solving
  • Informational takeaways
    • Cards that point to Explore MTBoS info page
    • Business cards/stickers for individual projects and sites
    • Handout of steps to making a Twitter account
  • A Raffle/Estimation Task – doing an Estimation 180 is like way better than the ol’ jelly bean jar.

We’re looking forward to it. Thanks for your help, and we hope to see you at the conference!