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 #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 #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.

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Adapted from Exploring the MTBoS Mission #1 by Sam Shah

Math Rocks Mission #1: Getting Started with Blogging

In order to explore your curiosity this year and to reflect on your learning, one of the tools you will need is a blog.

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 blog post 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 blog post – the one you’re reading right now. Your comment will say:

  • Your name
  • Your Twitter handle (which you’ll have by the end of today)
  • 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

Hi, I’m Brian Stockus. You can find me on Twitter @bstockus and on my blog, Teaching to the Beat of a Different Drummer. The title of my blogpost is aptly named “Explore MTBoS: Mission #1″ (http://bstockus.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/exploring-mtbos-mission-1/).

I was going for originality.

To entice you to read what already sounds like a real page turner from the title alone: “Have you ever done something for a terrible reason, but then it turned out to have good unintended consequences? That’s what happened to me when I tried out a new activity in my classroom geared at test prep that ended up empowering my students and gave me greater insight into their thinking.”

3. Once you’ve posted your comment advertising your blog post, look at the three previous comments (the ones above yours). Read the posts of these three people and write a comment on 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.

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 blog post on one of the topics below. Yep, you’re already ready to go. See how easy setting up a blog was? EASY!

  • Who are you? Introduce yourself! 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!

I suppose it can be a long blog post, too. Whatever floats your boat. If you’re adventurous, bonus points (okay, there aren’t really points) and twenty unicorn rainbows (these 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 blog post – the one you’re reading right now. Your comment will say:

  • Your name
  • Your Twitter handle (which you’ll have by the end of today)
  • 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

Hi, I’m Brian Stockus. You can find me on Twitter @bstockus and on my blog, Teaching to the Beat of a Different Drummer. The title of my blogpost is aptly named “Explore MTBoS: Mission #1″ (http://bstockus.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/exploring-mtbos-mission-1/).

I was going for originality.

To entice you to read what already sounds like a real page turner from the title alone: “Have you ever done something for a terrible reason, but then it turned out to have good unintended consequences? That’s what happened to me when I tried out a new activity in my classroom geared at test prep that ended up empowering my students and gave me greater insight into their thinking.”

5. Once you’ve posted your comment advertising your blog post, look at the three previous comments (the ones above yours). Read the posts of these three people and write a comment on 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’re proud. You rock!

******

From Exploring the MTBoS Mission #1 by Sam Shah (with minor adaptations)