Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meet the New Bloggers (week 2)

This week I'll be introducing you to Malcolm, Sarah, Mark, Algebrainiac, Jeff, David, Nancy, MPA, Tyler, and Ian. Last week I subscribed to 2 new blogs. My blog roll is just too long. If I add any this week, I'd better go delete some...

Many of the new bloggers mentioned that this initiation is helping them to keep writing - training wheels help. Just remember to keep riding that bike after the training wheels come off!

Malcolm Eckel, blogging at Solving Problems, wrote I wish my teacher training had told me... His summary: Three pieces of advice I wish I'd gotten - your grading systems don't have to follow the traditional model, wait time for students to think is *crucial*, and one concrete strategy for making a connection with students.
Making a personal connection with your students is not a vague, ill-defined process.
(Sue here:) I am super-impressed with anyone who emails all of their students. I'm also impressed with how many bloggers are using mastery-based grading systems (SBG or otherwise).

Sarah Educating (@saraheducating), blogging at Sarah Educating, wrote This is what being a teacher looks like? Her summary: My post is about how before I started teaching, I never realized how much of the job of a teacher is the social/emotional stuff.  A lot of the best and hardest moments of my teaching career haven't been about the classwork, they've been in helping kids do the hard work of being a person.  Life is hard!
In many ways though, as hard as it can be to wade through the drama to the heart of the matter, it’s one of the very best parts of my job. 
This brought back memories. Early in my teaching career I taught middle school. I wasn't very good, but I did help one student become the person she wanted to be. (Maybe more than one...)

Mark Davis (@graphpapershirt), blogging at Graph Paper Shirt, wrote I Wish I Had Known… His summary: I wished I had learned how to continue growing professionally in an environment that offers little support or even makes fun of the desire to go above and beyond.  Furthermore, I wished I had learned that trying and succeeding in a few things is far better than being made to believe that you have to do everything at once.
I realized that I was beginning to collect a pile of underpants.
Ahh, bookmarks = underpants, I get it. Yep, usin' 'em. 

Algebrainiac (@algebrainiac1), blogging at Algebrainiac, wrote My Algebra 1 Skills List. Algebrainiac's summary: I am sharing my version of my Algebra 1 Skills List, that I have used and improved over the last 4 years.  I also shared my thoughts about incorporating Interactive notebooks in my classes this year. I LOVE the premise behind them, but it kind of feels like a lot to take on. I would love suggestions on my skills list and helpful hints on INBs!
It is kind of refreshing that 2 periods of math a day I know what I am doing and where I am going because it is Algebra 1.
I know how that feels. I'm doing so much new in my Calc I class, it makes me grateful to go to my Calc II class and know exactly what's next - I've done it so often. 

Jeff Brenneman (@brennemania), blogging at Trust Me - I'm a Math Teacher, wrote Ninjas: Undeniably Awesome. But Student Motivational Tool? His summary: I'm trying out a rather nebulous "achievement" system in my class called The Ninja Board. Students will earn ninja points and ninja rankings for various actions in class. The hope is that students will be more creative and deep with various class activities as a result.
That's what my students are inevitably going to ask me, and I'm not going to tell them. ... I'm purposely not going to tell my students what they can do to earn ninja points or ranks. I want them to discover that on their own.
Intriguing. I sure want to find out how this turns out. I'll have to follow Jeff's blog, won't I? (I don't think it's a good idea for college students, so I probably can't use it myself. But still, I'm intrigued.)

David Price (@compactspaces),  blogging at Compact Spaces, wrote XKCD and girls (part 1). His summary: Girls don't suck at math, and there are a few reasons (including luck) why I thought this from an early age! I am excited about teaching math in a school where a majority of students are girls.
However, it’s only over the past year or so I’ve become more aware of another (and perhaps) the largest advantage - I LOOK LIKE a math nerd.
I'm curious. Does a high ratio of girls in a school help the girls to be more assertive? 

Nancy,  blogging at Infinitelymanysolutions, wrote Venn diagrams. Her summary: This post is about using Venn diagrams to make connections between related concepts in math.
We’ve become so focused on our own grade level standards that we block out everything else and forget the big picture of how it all fits together.
I like her idea of having students use Venn diagrams to compare mathematical procedures. A student example shows the differences and similarities between addition and multiplication of fractions.

Making Paper Airplanes (@makingairplanes), blogging at Making Paper Airplanes, wrote What I Only Wish I Had Learned... MPA's summary: After a somewhat crazy and chaotic first year of teaching, I am thrilled to be starting the new year with a full-time, full-year job and my own classroom!  Looking back at last year, it is important to me to keep my eye on the big picture this year, starting with not freaking out too much about the first day!
Everything doesn’t need to be perfect on day one.
I don't know. After 25 years, I still obsess over my first day. And I really like how that turned out this semester. But yeah, big picture comes first.

Tyler Borek (@tybo9188), blogging at Real Problems, wrote The Applied Problems Shortage. His summary: This is a post about the hierarchy of problem-writing difficulty (procedural, conceptual, and applied), the resulting shortage of conceptual and applied problems, and the impact on students.
Then, last year, as a tutor, I found myself facing the same situation that my teachers faced– a surplus of educational ambition, but a shortage of applied problems.    
Applied problems are harder to make up than conceptual; both are harder to create than simple procedural problems. And that's why our Internet problem-sharing is so important. If I give one to everyone and get dozens, we're all richer.

Ian Frame (@mrframemath), blogging at Igniting Inquiry, wrote 10 Years From Now... His summary: My thoughts about what I want my students to say a decade from now. Surprisingly for a math teacher, it's not how to solve equations or add fractions.
There is so much more to life than knowing how to find the roots of polynomials.
“In Mr. Frame’s class, I always have the chance to succeed." Yeah.

The round up of week two responses is at these blogs: Julie, Fawn, Anne, Megan, Bowman, Sam, Lisa, John, @druinok, Tina, and Kate.


  1. Sue, thanks for the shout out! Also - I'm the Sarah from Math Circles this summer, and I still think back to the conversation we had over lunch just before you left. Your wise words have stuck with me and helped me keep things in perspective as I embark on this adventure that is being a math teacher, so thank you :)

  2. My wise words, huh? I sure wish I could remember what I said! I remember that we had a lovely conversation, but that's all. I had no idea it was you when I read your blog post. So cool to reconnect.

  3. Our conversation was mostly about being new to teaching math and keeping perspective when it's so easy to put pressure on ourselves (at least, that's what stuck with me...) I appreciated your encouragement and perspective :)

  4. It will be fun to follow your progress. I hope you have a great year.

  5. If you're curious to see how it's turning out, I've already written an update on how it went for the first week of school! :-)

  6. I read it already. It's fun to follow along on your Ninja journey. :^)


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