Math Rocks Mission #9: Try and Reflect

As you may or may not recall from our session last week, I had mentioned there are two homework assignments before our next session. The first is Mission #8. And here is the second:

  • Choose a number sense routine like Quick Images or Choral Counting, or choose some other short activity like Estimation180 or Which One Doesn’t Belong? The key is the activity should only take about 10-15 minutes of your time in class. I also want it to be an activity you want to do with your students. I don’t want you to feel like this is some artificial task you’re doing to check off a box, “Yep, I did my Math Rocks homework.”
  • Try out the activity in class. Pay special attention to what the kids are doing and saying.
  • Take photos of any work that is shared. For example, if you do a number talk, take a photo of the board when you’re done. Avoid having students’ faces showing in any pictures or any identifying information.
  • Write a blog post reflecting on the experience. Some questions to consider: (Some! Not all! You don’t have to write a book.)
    • What activity did you pick and why?
    • What kind of planning did you do beforehand?
    • Was this the first time doing the activity with your class? How did you introduce it?
    • If you’ve done the activity before, what are you noticing about your students as they continue to encounter it?
    • How did the activity go? What kinds of things did the students say and do during the activity?
    • What are you curious about?
    • What surprised you?
    • What frustrated you?
    • What are you proud of?
    • What would you do differently next time?
    • Do you want to use this activity again with your students? Why or why not?
  • Include at least one photo in your post so readers can get a glimpse into the classroom experience you’re describing.
  • Tweet out a link to your reflection. Include the #ElemMathChat and #MTBoS hashtags.

Happy teaching!

Math Rocks Mission #8: Breaking the Cycle

This week’s mission harkens back to our first session in July. One of the first things we did was watch Tracy Zager’s Shadowcon talk called Breaking the Cycle. You don’t have to re-watch her talk, but it might help get you in the head space for this mission because you’ll be continuing to explore Tracy’s ideas.

  • The first thing you need to do is read Andrew Gael’s post about a survey he gave to learn more about how the staff at his school views mathematics.
  • Next, read Justin Lanier’s call to action referenced in Andrew’s post. If you want extra credit*, watch Justin’s talk where he goes into much more detail about his thoughts on math and beauty.
  • Pick a day and survey your students. You can survey the students in just your class, or if you can rally some other teachers, go ahead and survey students in several classes! Feel free to modify the language of the statements that Justin provides. For example, you might change “clear-cut” to something like “makes sense.” For younger grades, you might conduct the survey orally or you might further refine the statements to be more grade-level appropriate for your students.
  • On your blog, write a reflection about your experiences and what you learned about your students.
  • Tweet out a link to your blog using the hashtags #MTBoS and #ElemMathChat.

As usual, link your blog post in the comments. Then read and comment on three other blog posts.

*There isn’t actually any extra credit, but you can still call it that. 🙂

Math Rocks Mission #7: New Car Smell

The kids are back from summer break, and your classroom still has that new car smell. Before it wears off, why not share your fresh classroom setup with the rest of the Math Twitter Blogosphere? This week’s mission is simple:

  • Take a photo (or 2 or 3 or more) of your classroom.
  • Write a short blog post about how you’ve set up your room.
  • Be sure to include your picture(s) in your blog post!
  • Tweet a link to your blog post to @crstn85. She will pin your post to the MTBoS Classroom Setup board on Pinterest.

To make your post interesting, write about some of the decisions you made while setting up your room. For example, convince me your marker system is worth trying.

Not sure how to include pictures in your blog post? It’s easy! Click the “Add Media” button that’s in the top left corner of your blog post editor (if you’re using WordPress). Click the tab “Upload Files” to upload image files from your device. If the files are already saved online somewhere like Flickr or a Google photo gallery, you can click “Insert from URL” and enter the web address of your picture.

Have a fantastic first day of school!

Math Rocks Mission #6: Twitter Chatter, Subject Matter

This week your mission is to attend a Twitter Chat!  Twitter Chats are one hour weekly chats held on Twitter. There are many different types of Twitter Chats, from general education chats to book chats. This week you are going to have the chance to interact with teachers across the country (and possibly the world!) that teach the same things you teach!

Browse the list below to see what chats are happening throughout the week! Don’t be intimidated if you are a newcomer, you don’t even have to type anything to participate – you can just read and follow along! But I promise that you will be compelled to jump in!  Read below for more helpful hints!

Twitter Chat List

  • Tuesday Chats
    • #edchat – Education chat – 6pm
    • #5thchat – 5th grade teachers chat – 7pm
  • Wednesday Chats
    • #2ndchat – 2nd grade teachers chat – 7pm
    • #k12mathcoach – K-12 math coaches – 8pm (bi-weekly)
    • #txed – Texas education chat – 8:30pm
    • #educoach – Educational coaching – 9pm
  • Thursday Chats
    • #3rdchat – 3rd grade teachers chat – 7pm
    • #ElemMathChat – Elementary math chat – 8pm
    • #Spedmath – Special Education math chat – 8pm (bi-weekly)
  • Friday Chats
    • #gtchat – Gifted and talented chat – 6pm
  • Sunday Chats
    • #1stchat – 1st grade teachers chat – 7pm
    • #txeduchat – Texas education chat – 8pm
  • Monday Chats
    • #4thchat – 4th grade teachers chat – 7pm
    • #kinderchat – Kindergarten and early childhood chat – 8pm
    • #msmathchat – Middle school math chat – 8pm (In case you want to see what middle school teachers chat about.)

** If none of these chats appeal to you, have no fear! There are 200+ different education chats listed here!!  Thanks to @thomascmurray, @cevans5095  and @cybraryman1 for compiling this great list!

How to Follow a Twitter Chat

To easily follow a Twitter Chat, type the hashtag and chat name into the search box. For instance, #ElemMathChat. Then, will bring up all of the tweets that include that hashtag!  It will look like this: (In order to see the chat in action, click “Live” otherwise you’ll only see the top tweets that Twitter chooses to show you.)


Helpful Hints:

  • It’s a good idea to follow the chat facilitators so you don’t miss important tweets and reminders when the chat begins.
  • If you have never participated in a Twitter chat before you are in for a treat! To participate, you just need to include the hashtag (example: #ElemMathChat) in your 140 characters.
  • The moderator will ask a question and then everyone can answer it and discuss. (The format for chats is usually a question, Q1 from moderator, then you will answer with an A1 at the start of your answer.)
  • Don’t feel intimidated, because you don’t actually have to “chat” if you do not want to. You can simply log into twitter and watch the conversations. To do this, follow the hashtag. To follow a hashtag, simply perform a search on Twitter.
  • If your Twitter account is private, you may want to unlock your tweets during the chat. This will allow people who do not follow you to read your chats for the hour.

More Helpful Twitter Hints:  TweetDeck!

Several of you have commented that Twitter can confusing and even overwhelming at first. Some of you said you aren’t really following the feed, you are just checking in on #MTBoS. But guess what? You can do it all at once! My all time BIG TIP for making Twitter truly awesome is TweetDeck by Twitter!

I love, love, love TweetDeck because I can see my entire Timeline (all of the tweets from all of people I follow – this is what you see on the page online),Interactions (people who are talking to me or including me in a conversation publicly), Messages (people who are talking privately just to me), and then any cool things I want to keep up with (like #ElemMathChat or #MTBoS). TweetDeck puts all of the most important stuff I want to read in COLUMNS (can you say Math Love)? It is ALL viewable in one place at the same time and looks like this…  If you perform a search, you can then create a whole new column from your hashtag search.  Notice the nifty little blue Add Column button at the bottom?  Yep, it’s true love.

Your mission for this week:

  1. Attend any twitter chat that you would like! The easiest way to “attend” a chat is to search for and then follow the hashtag. (Example: #ElemMathChat).
  2. Write a blog post reflecting on your Twitter Chat experience.
  3. Tweet out your blog post. Include the hashtag for the chat you attended as well as 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. 🙂


From Exploring the MTBoS Mission #5 and Julie Reulbach (with minor adaptations)

Math Rocks Mission #5: Collaboration Nation

The awesome part about this online community is all the sharing we do. Last week you experienced Twitter – that’s all about conversation. Twitter works for the short things we want to share – ideas, links, questions. The character limit is a bonus, it means no one is carrying on a monologue; Twitter is meant for dialogue.

Many times, those conversations leave you wanting more. You wish someone would elaborate on the thought they started in a tweet or share the entire lesson rather than a snippet. That’s where a blog comes in handy.

Sometimes, though, ideas are even bigger than a single person’s blog and turn into a theme that we compile or a new blog entirely (kind of like this one). This week is all about the things the MTBoS has accomplished when we join forces. These projects only work because people contribute to them, people like you! This week:

  1. Explore some websites to use with your students.
  2. Visit some websites for your own professional and/or mathematical growth.
  3. Comment on this post about what else you’ve discovered.
  4. Write a blog post about ONE (uno, ein, ichi) site you visited and how you might use it personally or with your students.

Note: The following resources can be used at a variety of grade levels including middle and high school. I’m sharing all of them because you may encounter a site you personally like to play with and use to grow your own math skills. These sites don’t just have to be used with your students. If a site appeals to you, and you want to continue exploring, have at it and have fun!

These are some sites that are fun for you and possibly 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 might be 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.

Do you have a first year teacher on your team? Here are some letters to share: Letter to a New Teacher. Even as a veteran teacher you might enjoy reading them to remember 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.

If you’re looking through these sites and wondering why there aren’t more geared towards elementary school, that’s where you come in! Part of my goal for sharing this community with you is to grow the number of elementary school educators. As you can see, this community can do great things when it works together, but we need more elementary-level folks to make that happen. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to work with some teachers in RRISD or beyond to create a resource this school year!


From Exploring the MTBoS Mission #3 and Resources by Tina Cardone (with minor adaptations)

Math Rocks Mission #4: Twitter Me This

Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to try your hand at Twitter. Maybe for the first time, maybe for the first time in a while, maybe in new ways, maybe with new people.

This mission, combined with our blogwork in Missions #1 and 3, will provide you a sure foundation for all future Explore MTBoS enterprises. You’ll be platformed up and ready to mingle by the week’s end.

Twitter is chatting with the world. 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 listen in, vet an idea, and let your colors shine through.

All this in 140 character bursts. Day and night. With #copioushashtags and @KimKierkegaardashian.

Having timely, thoughtful, and charming interactions from a whole world of online colleagues? Yes, please.

Step 0: The Account

We already created our Twitter accounts in Mission #2, but there are a few more things you can do to get properly set up before beginning the mission.

One thing that makes Twitter so powerful is being able to follow people. In your case, you’re probably going to want to follow some fellow elementary educators. Here’s a list of folks to follow if you need help getting started.

If Twitter forced you into following accounts that you aren’t particularly interested in, not to fear—you can unfollow them as soon as you finish the sign-up process.

You’ll want to upload an avatar, or else present yourself to the world for the time being as a dashing and comely default egg avatar. And in your Twitter profile, it’d be a great idea to include the URL to your blog. That’s a great way for people to find their way to your site!

The next step in your mission will help you to get going further with Twitter, but if you’d like some further orientation on how math teachers can use it, there’s a great guide over at the weebly site. Here are just a few small thoughts that might be useful to you.

Different people use Twitter in different ways. You’ll find the way that works for you.

Don’t be discouraged if someone doesn’t reply to you. It may mean they are super busy and might not be checking their tweets a lot—Twitter is a funny combo of synchronous and asynchronous communication. Or it may be that they have a zillion followers and they get overwhelmed and they also have a mile-high stack of papers to grade. And sometimes, you know, they may just not have anything to say. Twitter’s a nutty, fragmented, free-for-all. Things get lost in the shuffle. But think of the insanity as a feature and not a bug, and please don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond to your tweets.

Since there are only 140 characters in a tweet, people sometimes write tersely, which can come across as very direct — but mainly that’s because of the lack of characters to type things like “oh wow, neato! one thing i was wondering is if…”. Often sentiments can get truncated. Tone can be tricky on Twitter, but practice helps and you can always ask for clarification. Also, don’t forget that you can always send multiple tweets if your thought needs more than 140 characters to be expressed.

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.

You might be tempted to make your Twitter account private/protected when starting out. This might provide you with a sense of security, but people can’t see what you tweet if you’re private. It’s a good idea when you’re first starting off and trying to find good people to interact with—and they’re trying to find you—that you should probably keep your account public. And in a while, when you have a good number of people to tweet with, then you can switch your account settings. Also, I’d say the majority of math teachers hearabouts have public profiles. Again, you’ll figure out what works for you

The advice on this page for getting started with Twitter is good to read if you’re still apprehensive. And if you think it will help, you can read the experiences of how some math teachers started out with Twitter here. But our hope is that with this flurry of people using twitter this week, you’re going to have a comfortable way to get involved. Jump in!

This is a cat picture.

Step 1: The Mini-missions

So you’ve got a Twitter account, and you’re not afraid to use it. Fantastic. Below you’ll find a list of some mini-missions. Don’t dawdle, because they’ll self-destruct in three minutes. #jk You’ll engage with them as you wish—as many or as few of them as your schedule and taste admit—but here are two arbitrary goals for you that I just made up, one qualitative, one quantitative.

  1. Make sure you do at least one Twitter mini-mission that sounds superfun to you, and do a Twitter mini-mission that is outside of your comfort zone—that gets you to try something new.
  2. Pick a number between 5 and 10. Got it? Now double it. Add two. Cut it in half. Do at least that many mini-missions.

All right? All right. Let’s go.

Twitter Mini-missions:

  • If you’re new to Twitter, announce and introduce yourself in a tweet and include the hashtag #MTBoS. (Note that a hashtag is simply a tiny phrase included directly after a pound symbol in your tweet. That way if you want to see all tweets about the mathtwitterblogosphere, you can tell Twitter hey, find all tweets with #MTBoS in it and Twitter can show you all tweets with #MTBoS in it! At heart, it’s a search tool. There are hashtags for all sorts of things, but no need to worry about then now.
  • If you’ve done Twitter for a while, announce and introduce yourself in a tweet in a way that sheds some new light on who you are. Surprise us. Include #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 their Twitter handle – @[Twitterhandle].
  • 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 their Twitter handle – @[Twitterhandle].
  • Open up the #ElemMathChat and/or #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 you 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 #ElemMathChat and #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.

Step 2: The Blog Post

After you complete Step 1, you’ll have some new Twitter experiences under your belt. What better way to reflect on them than to blog about them? The interplay between the longer-form reflection and exposition of blogging and the rapid-fire conversation on Twitter is part of what makes the MTBoS tick.

Here are a few writing prompts that you might convert into a blog post.

  • Pick a tweet that you read and liked. Blog about what it made you think about.
  • Or maybe it wasn’t a single tweet, but a conversation you had. Blog about those ideas.
  • If you’re new to Twitter, what is something that has surprised you about it?
  • If you’re an experienced Twitter user, describe and reflect upon how you tend to use it.

Also, something worth noting about blogs is how to handle comments. In your blog’s Settings—perhaps under Discussion or Comments—you probably have several comment moderation options. This video explains it all. Moderating comments give you more control over what shows up on your blog—and not after the fact—but it can slow down conversation. Not moderating comments can let conversations proceed more naturally, but it may mean having to delete a little spam here and there. Just some thoughts for your consideration.

And speaking of comments…

Step 3: The Comment (Comment, Comment, Comment, Commet Chameleon)

Once you’ve written your Twitter-themed blog post, drop a comment at the bottom of this here Mission #4 post announcing it and offering it up for others to comment on. Also, you should tweet out your post on your Twitter account! Include #MTBoS. If you have room in your tweet, also include #ElemMathChat.

Finally, just like last week, you’ll go comment on the blog posts of the three people who commented directly above you. You’re of course welcome to comment on any of the other blog posts, too, and we encourage you to browse the comments to see which posts sound most interesting to you. But, if you play along with this chain mail flashback, then everyone gets at least three comments on their blog—at their site, not a response to the comment here—and everyone likes comments. So please play nice!

Stay safe out there, agent. See you in the Twitterverse!


From Exploring the MTBoS Mission #2 by Justin Lanier (with minor adaptations)

Math Rocks Mission #3: Goal Setting

To help you explore the Math Twitter Blogosphere, you’re going to be doing a bunch of different missions. Each of them is going to end with you doing a little reflection related to what you did. Thus, it’s important (at least during Math Rocks) to have a blog to write on. Although we are going to be asking you to keep a blog throughout Math Rocks, we are not going to be making you continue it. One thing we want to convey during this experience is that there is 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 is 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 your blog while you’re in this cohort 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…

1. You are going to write a blog post on the following prompt.

  • What are your goals for yourself for your math teaching this school year? What are your goals for your students’ math learning this school year? What obstacles do you think you will face this school year that may affect your ability to achieve these goals? What ideas do you have right now for how you might overcome these obstacles?

2. Just like you did after writing your first blog post, drop a comment on this post announcing it and offering it up for others to comment on.

3. Also just like last time, comment on the blog posts of the three people who commented directly above you. You’re of course welcome to comment on any other blog posts, too. This way everyone gets at least three comments on their blog – at their site, not a response to their comment here – and everyone likes comments.

4. This is a great time to explore the features of WordPress (or whatever service you are using to host your blog). You all made your blogs pretty quickly this week so now is a good time to explore the management tools you can use to customize your blogging experience. If you use your Google-fu, I bet you can even uncover some videos that will explain and walk you through some of the options available to you.


Adapted from Exploring the MTBoS Mission #1 by Sam Shah