Desmos Pro Tips and Exploding Blogs!







Desmos Pro Tips and Exploding Blogs!



Edited By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Diving into the Desmos Dashboard
Presented by Adam Poetzel

The teacher dashboard that accompanies all Desmos activities is a flexible tool that can be used to monitor student progress, facilitate class discussions, and highlight student responses. In this webinar, participants will experience different features of the dashboard while discussing pedagogical options available to promote student engagement in mathematical thinking. This session is geared towards teachers in grades 5-12 who are beginner to intermediate users of Desmos activities, but all are welcome!

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

Last week at Global Math Zachary Herrmann shared practices to help develop curiosity and creativity in the math classroom. Click here to watch.

The Blogosphere is Blowing Up

A few things I’ve noticed in 2017 thus far…
 
I love this tweet by Sara Vanderwerf, but I love her blog post even more.  We help students more by giving them the tools and direction to construct their own meaning in math rather than by lecturing them (most of the time); Sara suggests in this blog post that the same philosophy applies when we help each other as well.  Don’t you love her graphic?
 
Speaking of the geniuses at Desmos, they have added a long-awaited for feature – the ability to add a custom label to a point, and with their usual super-smartness, the Desmos programmers have made sure that multiple labels in your activity will not get in each other’s way.  Read the post, and go play.
 
Do you know what an octahectaennacontakaihexagon is?  Neither did I, until I visited solvemymaths first foray into YouTube land.  It’s a great (and somewhat psychedelic) start to what I hope will be many more mathily entertaining videos.
 
I’ve been reading Jennifer Wilson’s Easing the Hurry blog for years, and I’ve also read 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions more than once. In her post 5 Practices: Dilations, Jennifer elaborates how this important book has impacted her teaching through the lens of one lesson.  
 
Brian Palacios wrote about his earliest school experiences in Where it all began, which prompted me to write about mine, including my early impressions of learning math.  What are your earliest memories of school and math?  How about writing about them and sharing at #whereitallbegan?
 
Finally, thanks to Grace Chen at educating grace for giving us a list of math books to read in the coming year.

Cheers – Wendy Menard  (@wmukluk)

       

In the early days of 2017 people all over the world try to commit themselves to new resolutions in the new year. This year a number of teachers have committed to blogging regularly and just polished off 1 week of the #MTBoSblogsplosion. The first week focused on “My Favorites” here are some of those posts:
 
Greta, who blogs at Count it All Joy wrote the post  My Favorites: 2 Equation Activities. This post talks about an interesting web app, and an inclass activity that both involve balancing. Bilingual blog  Matematiche, written by Fracqua is the lastest example of #MTBoS’s reach. In the post “Blogging initiative” the author describes some veteran tactics to help make groupwork less painful. Melynee Naegele’s post One of My Favorites describes her experience as a teacher, and also some tips for working with instructional routines.
 
Exploremtbos is the homebase for those interested in blogging or following along, as blogger can find prompts for each week, as well as read the posts from other people’s classrooms. This week’s challenge is around soft skills, and it focuses on the ‘virtual’ soft skills conference that was held by Riley Lark. People who don’t prefer weekly challenges, but still want to participate, they can just state their commitment and post the blogs as they write them as I described in my blog post Get your 2017 blogging off on the right foot with #MTBoSblogsplosion.

Written by Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter)

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For Auld Lang Syne and Cosyne







For Auld Lang Syne and Cosyne



Edited By Brian Bushart @bstockus

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Creativity and Curiosity in the Math Classroom
Presented by Zach Hermann (@zachhermann)

Curiosity and creativity are essential for the future of our students and of our society. Unfortunately, we as teachers do things everyday that systematically squash these habits of mind. We will discuss three common teacher practices that stifle curiosity and creativity, and three alternative practices that can help develop them. Curious?

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

It turns out you didn’t miss Global Math last week. We were on a break. Whew! However, now is a great time to go back and check out one of our previous sessions you might have missed. Learn something new to kick off 2017!

The #MTBoS Never Sleeps

Nearly Hot Off the Press

Get your finances in order: Tracy Zager’s book, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, comes out this week! I pre-ordered the book and got the e-book, which I have been digging into over the winter break. Having only read the first four chapters, I can already say that this is a teaching book unlike any that I’ve read before. Tracy’s book is full of wonderful suggestions for math teachers of all age ranges, and it is bound together with a coherent voice and message about how Tracy sees the math classroom.

If you can’t wait for the book to arrive, Tracy has put together an extensive companion site for her book. There are videos, links to blog posts, and even a full-length study guide for the book. The site should slake your thirst until January 5th, when the book is officially released.

Written by Kent Haines (@KentHaines)

The Song That Never Ends

When I hear the topic of problem solving come up in professional conversations, I feel like singing, “This is the song that doesn’t end, yes it goes on and on my friends…”  These conversations seem to go around and around as educators share their opinions of what problem solving should look like and how it should be approached.  In the conversations in which I have been a part, those who wanted a specific procedure for solving problems held the loudest voice.

Here’s my two cents backed by a few experts in the field.  When it comes to problem solving, I feel the emphasis should be more on the reasoning than on the procedure for answering a word problem.  Terry Tao’s quote from this post adds some light to my thinking:  “Finding a solution is a short term goal and increasing understanding of the subject is the long term goal.”  Max Ray’s post from 2015 really hammers home the wavering perspectives of problem solving in American classrooms.  One point which I believe is often forgotten is students are more than capable of solving problems without an explicit procedure as noted in CGI materials.

So what do we do?  Robert Kaplinsky suggests we should move our focus from procedures that work for only some problems to a thinking format which could be applied to any problem.  What I love about this problem solving framework is it encourages students to make sense of the problem and the quantities, which I sometimes feel is a lost art.  

Written by Jenise Sexton (@MrsJeniseSexton)

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I’m starting 2017 eclectically. Usually when it’s my team’s turn to contribute to this newsletter, I look at all the tweets I’ve liked recently, and narrow it down to about 3 blogposts that seem to have a common theme. Well this time, I just can’t eliminate anything. I’ve been favouriting like a boss for the last 3 weeks! Rather than finding a common theme amongst them, here they all are, with a show-stopping line from each:

Michael Pershan @mpershan: “…complex numbers only gained mathematical respectability when people married a geometric and algebraic perspective on them.”

Bill Ferriter @plugusin (Via @BlueCerealEduc):  “…I am making a commitment to LEARNING WITH rather than LEARNING FROM people this year.”

arstechnica.com via @Nash076: “….(Twitter’s) most talked-about user, President Elect Donald Trump, has relied on the platform to spread misinformation and point his most harassing and abusive followers at specific people he dislikes…Who the heck wants to buy that kind of site?”

Terie Englebrecht @mrsbiology:  “So how do teachers get started teaching less and giving more feedback? The answer is…that depends.”

Ben Orlin @benorlin:  “Mathematics should not be an intimidating collection of inscrutable methods! It should be a timidating collection of scrutable methods!”

Carol Dweck:  “False growth mindset is saying you have growth mindset when you don’t really have it or you don’t really understand what it is. It’s also false in the sense that nobody has a growth mindset in everything all the time.”

Kenrya Rankin @kenrya via @colorlines: “In 2015, 21 young people-half of whom identify as Native or Black-filed a lawsuit charging President Barack Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S Departments of Energy, the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, Defense, and State for willfully poisoning the earth they will inherit, rendering it toxic for future generations.”

Written by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared)

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This Week: Awesome Math. Period.







This Week: Awesome Math. Period.



Edited By Sahar Khatri @khatrimath

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Global Math Department is take a break from webinars this week. Rejoice and enjoy the time with loved ones. Recharge and join us next week as we explore Creativity and Curiosity in the Math Classroom.

Great Blogging Action: Awesome Math

Testing Using Desmos

 

For those considering Desmos as a tool for testing students, check out Julie Reulbach’s extensive blog post for some ideas.

 

Check out excerpts of what her students think:

~by Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel)

Share the Awesome

One of the blog posts on my recent run around the MTBoS came from Annie Perkins (@Anniekperkins). It hit me on a sore spot, because the truth hurts.  Like Annie, I am a strong believer in showing kids awesome math, even if it means going beyond the standards.  When students see actual awesome math, they take ownership of their learning.

But alas, I too am guilty of being a grinch and often keeping the awesome math from the students who perhaps will benefit from it the most.  After reading this, one of my New Year’s resolutions is that when I have kids do extra awesome math, all kids get to do it.  I’ll make time for the catching up or whatever some other way.

Image result for grinch

This leads me to request you all to:
(1) continue practicing the math that you personally love on a regular basis so that you can.
(2) share this awesome math that you love with your students!  

This is really one of the most important things we can do to bring students into a true love and understanding of what math is all about.

There are tons of resources out there online with awesome math to explore and share that is very accessible to students, too.  Check out old contest problems and James Tanton’s (@JamesTanton) Cool Math Essays to start.

~ by Matthew Engle (@pickpocketbme)

Thank you for tuning in this year..we hope you continue to do so in the coming year. An early Happy New Year from the Global Math Department!

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A Well Deserved Winter Break







A Well Deserved Winter Break



Edited By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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“I’m Not a Math Person” – Identity and Its Impact on Math Success
Presented by Nicole Bridge
 

What is math identity and why does it matter? This session will help participants think about their own identity around mathematics and the identities of their students. We will use personal stories and research-based definitions and practices to examine the concept of personal and social identity, particularly math identity. Participants will understand what math identity is, different ways that it is formed with a focus on messages/experiences at home, messages from the media, and messages/experiences from teachers), why positive math identity matters, and strategies to help students form a positive math identity.
 

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

Last week at Global Math, Julia, Julie and Hedge shared some of their favorite tech tools for classroom use. Click here to watch.

Stocking Stuffers from the #MTBoS

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As the weather gets colder, it seems many math teachers are cozying up to their computers and becoming reflective. In a great reflection on Number sense, Mark Chubb asks How big is “Big”? This post begins with a simple question, place the number one billion on the number line above. What emerges from that is just how many students, and teachers, have trouble conceptualizing really large numbers. The post continues to discuss the importance of number sense, and how strategies like contexts, visualization, and estimating can help. 

As the year draws to a close, you may take time to think about things that really matter. Sometimes that’s taking time to reflect on the myriad of strategies for supporting struggling students like Anna Blinstein did last week. Other times it’s thinking bout those messages you receive from former students who are having success in their higher math classes like Caitlyn Gironda did last week. Or maybe you just want to do a big comprehensive blog post about all the best stuff that happened this year. John Rowe did just that with a compendium of his 2016 math learning highlights which actually summarize a lot of #MTBoS highlights as well. If you are wrapping up your year by re-reading some of your favorite blog posts from this year, be sure to nominate some for Ilana Horn and Tina Cardone’s Best Blogs of 2016.

Written by Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter)

Greetings!  Here’s what I’m reading this week…you might want to as well.
 
Something provocative where you wouldn’t think to look…
In last week’s Hack Education, Audrey Watters explores the data that we give away unthinkingly on our own, and on our children’s (and students’) behalves.  Starting with a look at Pokemon Go and Hello Barbie (clearly not an educational toy, but a cautionary tale nonetheless), Watters goes on to examine the ways in which the collection and use of data in education do not actually serve their ostensible purpose (effective accountability) and, in fact, may cause harm and discrimination.  She says, “How will education and education technology balance data collection – accountability and transparency – and information security? In light of Wikileaks and the DNC hacks – all those who combed through this stolen data looking to confirm, for example, their suspicions about Hillary Clinton and the Common Core – how might education data be further weaponized?…..It’s weaponized already, of course. None of this surveillance plays out equitably. None of the surveillance and none of the punishment.”
 
Please go read it yourself (and subscribe!); I can’t match Watters’ scholarship and writing, but you get the idea.  This is IMPORTANT stuff to read, and to keep reading.
 
Something fun
After your dose of reality and serious issues, take a puzzle break.  If you don’t know about Naoki Inaba’s puzzles, you can read about them in a number of places, but I first read about them at Math Equals Love (thanks, Sarah!).  Last week, Sarah wrote a post about some geometric puzzles – Zukei puzzles – and they are as addicting as the area mazes (there’s an app for them, you know).  Sarah also shared a document containing the puzzles with instructions in English.  Inaba Puzzle has a website of its own as well, if you want to go hunting for more.  After all, you’ll have loads of time over the holiday break!

 
Dan does it again
I know we are all loyal readers of dy/dan, but I have to celebrate and highlight his recent post, The Bureau of Non White Math White Dude Math Education Keynote Speakers, in which he gives us a list of people who are not white and/or not male to invite to speak INSTEAD of him.  Each speaker’s specialty is briefly described, with the exception of the inimitable Tracy Zager, who as Dan so eloquently describes, would entrance and enrich us by reading the tax code. Thanks, Dan!

A wish for all Just reading Pam Wilson’s post about lighting up her classroom for the holidays brought a smile to my face.  The best holidays to everyone.

Cheers,
Wendy Menard  (@wmukluk)

 

In this space, we usually discuss education and math happenings in the virtual world, but today I want to share some print that is rocking my physical word.  
 
I recently began reading Mike Flynn’s new book, Beyond Answers: Exploring Mathematical Practices with Young Children. From the opening pages, I’ve really appreciated Mike’s insight and the way he has captured the thinking of young mathematicians.  Although I’m only halfway through the book, I’m finding Christopher Danielson’s review to be spot on. 
 
As if trying to read one book at the busiest time of the year wasn’t difficult enough, I keep getting lost in my computer. The reason? It’s the place I chose to download my e-copy of Tracy Zager’s much-anticipated book, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had.  My only issue with Tracy’s book is that I want to litter it with highlighter stripes and Post-Its but I’ll have to wait until January 5th for my hard copy.
 
Both Tracy and Mike do a beautiful job of making student and teacher thinking the backbone of their work.  If you’re looking to be inspired, then treat yourself this holiday season. 

Written by Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy)

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‘Tis the Season for Global Math Department







'Tis the Season for Global Math Department



Edited By Brian Bushart @bstockus

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Favorite Tech Tools
Presented by Julia Finneyfrock, Julie Reulbach, and Hedge

The name says it all. We’ll share. You’ll share. Everybody shares! Everybody wins.

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

Last week at Global Math, Andrew Stadel and Chris Shore did some sense making laundry with clothesline math. Click here to watch.

The #MTBoS Never Sleeps

The SMPs in Geometry

mikeflynn.JPG

I agree with Mike! Graham Fletcher has taken his SMP lens to the realm of elementary geometry! Recently, Graham shared a post about Geometric Subitzing Cards. In the past he has also created great geometric and measurement 3-act tasks like The Big Pad, Packing Sugar, and Piles of Tiles. Now he’s done it again!

Graham developed a geometry task he’s calling Geo-Dotting. The TL:DR is it is an open-ended task that allows students to discover and explore the properties of shapes. Students get an image like the one below. They use it to create shapes by connecting the dots, and then they discuss the properties with classmates. Each image has different pathways and highlights Graham’s personal commitment to the integration of mathematical practices in his, and most importantly, children’s work.

Written by Andrew Gael (@bkdidact)

My Mind is on Special Education

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This week I had the privilege of speaking with two special education teachers about their feelings of hopelessness and sadness with a system they feel is failing students with disabilities.  In their words, they are expected to hold their students to the same standards as their regular education counterparts and are discouraged from doing what they deem necessary to meet their students where they are.  For some time now it has been my belief that special education teachers should be allowed autonomy for meeting students’ needs and helping them progress towards the grade level standards.  Unfortunately, at least at my school, teachers feel pigeon-holed by grade level standards and revert to teaching from the textbook and teaching by telling.  Without the proper resources and mindset, it’s easy to give into assumptions about the learning capabilities of students with disabilities.

That’s what makes this presentation by Andrew Gael and friends so amazing.  It challenges you to consider both your assumptions and mindset about student learning.  Within this presentation various strategies are shared from real classrooms with real students. (I stress this because these aren’t hypothetical ideas.)  I can only imagine how engaged teachers were as they watched this presentation, as reading through the slides made me want to scream, “Students with disabilities can do math!”  

This post and this post by @Mathtechy explain how she has applied her learning from the book From Patterns to Algebra in her special education classroom.  These posts provide even more evidence about the effects of resources and mindset on student success.  From these posts it is safe to say her classroom does not reflect the “one inch deep, one inch wide” dilemma discussed in this post by @bkdidact.  It is also backed up by this article from TERC.

Those two special education teachers and I ended our conversation with this statement, “Be sad, but not hopeless.  Use the sadness to be the change you want to see.”  To engage in the discuss about supporting students with disabilities, noin #SwDMathChat every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 9pm.

Written by Jenise Sexton (@MrsJeniseSexton)

On Twitter, It’s Gift-Giving Season All Year

 

I’d say “Christmas came early for math teachers this week” but let’s face it, Twitter is a non-stop sharing palooza for teachers.

This isn’t about a blog post, but a GeoGebra book created by the stunningly prolific Tim Brzezinski (@dynamic_math). This book contains discovery-based learning activities, both his own creations and that of the ultimate GeoGebrainiacs: Jennifer Silverman (@jensilvermath) , Steve Phelps (@giohio), and Dr. Ted Coe (@drtedcoe).  It’s organized by CCSS. Just go. It’s amazing, and Tim promises there’s one on the way for functions.

I’d also like to share this post by Manan Shah (@shahlock), which is a continuation from my last post 3 weeks ago, about students developing and using their own formulas.  I love the idea of “breaking” formulas to scrutinize them. And I’d never heard of the butterfly method!

Written by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared)

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This Week: Clothesline Math, Magic Octagon, and More Clothesline Math!







This Week: Clothesline Math, Magic Octagon, and More Clothesline Math!



Edited By Sahar Khatri @khatrimath

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Clothesline Math: The Master Number Sense Maker! Witness how this dynamic tool reinforces numeracy while teaching current content in middle and high schools. Let’s play with fractions, expressions, geometry and functions in ways that you have never seen. Presented by Andrew Stadel and Chris Shore. Join us here at 9PM EST.

Highlights from last week: 

As everyone knows, students learn math at different rates. What should we do about it? I propose a two-prong strategy based on alliance with the strongest students, and support for the weakest. On the one hand, relatively easy-to-implement ways to insure constant forward motion and eternal review. On the other hand, a tool-based pedagogy that supports multiple representations, and increases both access and challenge.To listen to the recording, click here.

Great Blogging Action

The Magic Octagon

Have you seen the Magic Octagon?

No, I mean it. Have you seen the Magic Octagon?

Jennifer Wilson took an idea from Andrew Shauver who took an idea from Dan Meyer. I love how Jennifer uses quick poll with her students to tap into student intuition and keep track of their thinking. She gives students chances to make conjectures. She reflects on the questions she asked students and the questions she wished she had asked students. Lastly, her reflection is spot on with me:

“I used to say that my most important work happened before the lesson, collaborating with other teachers and deciding what questions to ask. I’ve decided otherwise, though. My most important work happens in the moment, not just asking, but also listening. And then, if needed, adjusting what I planned to ask next based on the responses of the students in my care. And so the journey will always continue…“

I agree with Jennifer and will add that the value of the “in the moment” is stronger as a result of her anticipation, collaboration, and listening. See Jennifer’s post.

~by Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel)

Manipu-what?

I like to play with things.  Playing with things allows for developing my own understanding at my own pace.  And I more naturally make generalizations about them once I’ve had the chance to play.  To be honest I’m actually talking about with anything I’m learning, not just math.

I’ve recently realized I haven’t been utilizing this idea in my classes as fully as I could be by using manipulatives.  I have to admit that when I started teaching I just thought of manipulatives as silly things for younger children.  Maybe it’s that I didn’t have the fortune of learning with manipulatives growing up, but I am now convinced of the power of them.  I recently ran across an article recently by Mary Curtain-Phillips titled Manipulatives: The Missing Link in High School Math).  In it she makes some important points about why we should be using them throughout K-12 and explains why manipulatives are an important missing link in many high school math classrooms to achieving true understanding.

At #CMCNorth this weekend I had the privilege of attending two sessions which highlighted a manipulative that I have been really wanting to learn about, and that is Clothesline Math.  If you haven’t seen or used them, clotheslines are dynamic, hands-on number lines that can be used to learn numerically-based concepts.  They have two characteristics I love: they can be used through the entire range of the curriculum and they are a true low-floor, high-ceiling tool.  They are a lot like Exploding Dots to me in these regards (ask @jamestanton about this).

Andrew Stadel and Chris Shore have done amazing jobs convincing me to use them in my high school classes.  Andrew’s session gave teachers some awesome ideas using things students are familiar with to put the math in their hands with rich tasks.  The highlight for me, as mentioned, was the end of the session using clotheslines.  It was a great session to transition directly into Chris Shore’s in the next time slot covering how to use these in high school classes.  Like his session description said, I promise they will blow your mind!

Go check out Clothesline Math, and give some thought to starting to use manipulatives in your classroom if you don’t already!

~ by Matthew Engle (@pickpocketbme)

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The Holiday Homestretch







The Holiday Homestretch



Edited By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Reaching the Whole Range
Presented by Henri Picciotto

As everyone knows, students learn math at different rates. What should we do about it? I propose a two-prong strategy based on alliance with the strongest students, and support for the weakest. On the one hand, relatively easy-to-implement ways to insure constant forward motion and eternal review. On the other hand, a tool-based pedagogy that supports multiple representations, and increases both access and challenge.

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

Last week Global Math took a Thanksgiving break, but before that Kate Nowak showed us how to turn classroom activities upside down. Click here to watch.

Thanks to the #MTBoS

Thankful Teachers

It’s been a helluva November – wouldn’t you agree?

So it was lovely to read some good reminders of how much we have to be thankful for.  Here are a couple of my faves:


Under the category ‘Multiple Representations’, we can always count on Indexed to accurately depict the human condition:

Elizabeth Statmore, or our beloved Cheesemonkey reminded me of the very best thing about the #MTBoS, besides giving me the best professional development every day in so many different ways.

And Fawn Nguyen, the Queen of many things in the math education world (including teacher snark), delivered a brief but humbling note of thanks, reminding me to always check my privilege at the door.  Note in her post that she is writing a book!  While you are on Fawn’s blog, make sure you read her post Irrelevant from earlier this month as well.

Teaching Stuff

If you are looking for any ideas for cooperative learning in your classroom, Glenn Waddell has compiled a hyperlinked list of resources for you.  Thanks for letting us share in your graduate education, tuition free – no less, Glenn!  

A great idea from Pam Wilson – the Reverse Quiz!  Having students find errors in work promotes critical thinking skills and deepens understanding.  Pam suggests we let the students make mistakes and explain why they are wrong.  Brilliant!

Jonathan Claydon, writing at Infinite Sums, makes a strong case for slowing down your curriculum pacing to ensure your students have enough procedural fluency to actually solve problems with the Big Ideas you want to teach them.  As teachers, all of us are answerable to some end-of-year goal, whether it’s a Regents exam, a departmental final, or just making sure our students are adequately prepared for next year.  Jonathan (who has also shared some interesting assessment ideas in a previous post in answer to a tweet for help), challenges us to let that go just a bit in order to close some of our students’ the proficiency gaps.

Cheers – Wendy Menard  (@wmukluk)

Vlogging Action

If you’re reading this newsletter I’ll assume you’re aware of the MTBoS community. The blessing and curse of our amazing community is that as more people contribute and share, the harder it is to keep up with it all.

So when Christina Tondevold shared that she was changing her blog to a vlog I couldn’t help but think how much easier it would be for me to consume her goodness, as the “reader.”

      

Christina recently posted a vlog describing the ins and out of Subitizing and shared some games to support her work.

I’m excited to see what else the Recovering Traditionalist will share and wondering if there’s any other vloggers out there amongst us.

Written by Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy)

The Problems of Teachers

At this point in the year some teachers may be grappling with many kinds of problems. The blog world has examples of some teachers, thinking through some thought provoking problems.
      

Manan Shah (@shahlock) writes about a problem that was tweeted by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared): “I get why we discourage kids using formulas, but what if they’re the ones who came up with the formula? #mtbos” In his response, What’s the Formula for Formulas?, Shah describes why we want students to understand the meaning of the formulas they use, and goes on to talk about how to push the thinking of students who create their own formulas.

Blogging is a good place to break down thoughts about problems teachers face with their students, as well as with their own lessons. Jon Orr (@MrOrr_geek) has an interesting series of Fav and Fix posts that describe “my favourite” from that week’s lessons, and “Something I hope to fix”. This week’s post describes how Would You Rather Math, along with a warm up from Mary Bourassa, sparked a great class discussion. His fix for this week is a work in progress as Jon highlights his thinking about a fledgling 3-act task.

Sometimes the problems teachers face aren’t tangible in a student interaction, or in a lesson as a whole. Sometimes the entire idea of teaching needs to be called into question. In What even IS good teaching?, Lisa Bejarano (@lisabej_manitou) takes a very broad approach at how to measure classroom success. A highly decorated teacher and PAEMST awardee, Lisa should feel sold on her effectiveness. Yet she writes “Most of my class periods end with me thinking about what a mess it was…” as this post goes on to raise questions about traditional measures of teacher distinction. “There is too much focus on what is observable in a class period…and not enough on the culture and connections that teachers develop with and among their students.” She goes on to describe some of the strategies that build the connections and culture that she needs in her class.

Problems facing teachers can arise because they are focused on larger goals that may not be noticed or awarded in their schools. Luckily deep thinking about the problems of teachers can be noticed and celebrated across the blogosphere.

Written by Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter)

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Global Math Department is Thankful for YOU







Global Math Department is Thankful for YOU



Edited By Brian Bushart @bstockus

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We here at Global Math Department are thankful for our presenters who volunteer an hour of their time each week to share their passions and expertise around math education. We are also grateful for all of you who read our newsletter and attend our sessions. We wouldn’t be global or a math department without you! Whether or not you celebrate US Thanksgiving, we wish each and every one of you a wonderful week with students, friends, and family.

Global Math Department is on break this week, but we will return with our next fantastic session on Tuesday November 29. In the meantime, check out the articles below that share the latest and greatest from around the #MTBoS.

Last week at Global Math, Kate Nowak helped us re-think classroom activities by turning them upside down. Click here to watch.

The #MTBoS Never Sleeps

Don’t Wait for Problem Solving

Tracy Zager has a nice summary of a talk given by Megan Franke and the way that Tracy changed her classroom in response to Megan’s ideas. Megan is one of the authors of Young Children’s Mathematics, the newest book by the authors behind Cognitively Guided Instruction.

In the book, the CGI authors make the case that young children can develop their skills as counters and problem solvers simultaneously. Many teachers only give students opportunities to solve problems once they have become fluent with the underlying skills, but Megan and her co-authors argue that children become more fluent and agile with counting facts (and later math facts) when they are practiced in the context of problems, not solely in isolation.

Tracy realized that she had been doing lots of work with counting collections, but she hadn’t used these counting activities as a springboard for problem-solving. So she recounts how she and her colleague Debbie Nichols turned a traditional counting activity into a multi-part lesson where students were counting, solving problems, and even posing and sharing problems that they invented. Tracy’s report includes a couple of examples of students stumbling upon new mathematical ideas through their problem-solving experiences. I won’t give them away – you’ll have to click through!

Although this post has a focus in early elementary, I think the lesson is one that can be extended into all levels of math teaching. It’s important to remember to give kids problem-solving opportunities as they build fluency with counting, addition, multiplication, factoring, and so on. We shouldn’t wait or expect total mastery before giving kids a chance to think through an interesting problem with their new tools.

Written by Kent Haines (@KentHaines)

One Good Thing…And Another…And Another

As Thanksgiving approaches I cannot help but to put thoughts of math on the back burner and bring thoughts of thankfulness to the front. This school year I was introduced to the hashtag and blog #onegoodthing by @crstn85. I can think of no better time to highlight tons of good things happening within math classrooms around the world than now.

These tweets are the type to lift your spirit when you’re feeling low. It’s a reminder than even when things appear bleak, you can find one good thing. Like this tweet celebrating student work and their admiration of one another’s work.  Or the celebration of student strategies in an era where many are still struggling to get used to Common Core. I’m sure every math teacher would love to have these stories – story 1, story 2, story 3, and story 4.

Moments like these are elaborated within the blog.  Posts like Basic Trust and Allowing about a student finally finding the potential already within him. Or Handout Passer Outer, which reminded Rebecka and the readers to listen to the stories of perseverance our students possess. Or even Listening, which shares the pain of a student and the teacher’s love for him. Read them and see if they don’t prompt you to share one good thing from your classroom.  

After this Thanksgiving break, come back in search of the one good thing from each day and continue the thankfulness agenda.

Written by Jenise Sexton (@MrsJeniseSexton)

Math and Memory

File:Mathematical formulas.JPG

On a recent test, one of my students used a formula to answer a question. Normally I would have insisted he show his work, but I happened to know that he had derived and verified the formula himself. Since he had done the important work prior to the test, I decided to give full marks, even though during the test he was technically just remembering the formula. This made me tweet to the #mtbos: “I get why we discourage kids using formulas, but what if they’re the ones who came up with the formula?” As usual, the Twitter conversation was fascinating and enlightening. Manon Shah (@shahlock) proposed the conversation continue on blogs, and for a starter, he offered up his comic. I have to admit I haven’t even started my own blog post about this, but I found this one by John Mason about how memorizing formulas can be used to forge deeper understanding. It also includes a fabulous idea about posters.

Not really formula related, but another idea that I loved was Pam Wilson’s (@pamjwilson) reverse quiz, in which students choose the wrong answer and back up why it’s wrong – kind of a combo of Math Mistakes and Plickers!

Since I’ve been doing a lot of presenting on Desmos Activities lately, I’m ever on the lookout for posts about best practices. This one by David Cox (@dcox21) speaks directly to what I struggle with in my own practice – how to really get the most math out of a fantastic activity like marbleslides.

Written by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared)

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This Week: #Election2016







This Week: #Election2016 



Edited By Sahar Khatri @khatrimath

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Turn that Lesson Upside Down! The eight Mathematics Teaching Practices outlined in Principles to Actions describe high-yield features of an incredible math lesson. But what do these lessons look like in practice? We’ll be looking at examples of re-thinking classroom activities by turning them upside down; Moving from “I do, we do, you do” to “You do, y’all do, we do.” Join us tonight at 9PM EST here.

Highlights from last week: Children Living in Poverty Can Solve CCSS OA Word Problems

Kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 children from backgrounds of poverty and non-native speakers of English can solve the ambitious types of addition and subtraction word problems in the Operations & Algebraic Thinking domain of the Common Core standards. How children represent and solve with math drawings was discussed and examples were shown. The learning path for teaching and helpful relationships among the OA CCSS were described. If you missed it, check out the recording here.

Great Blogging Action: Election 2016

Election Reflections

Unless you’ve been living under rock, which is completely possible and no judgments here, then you know that the United States has a new President-“elect”. This event has had a ripple effect among citizens of the United States the like of which has not been felt in recent memory. It has also equally affected American children as much as it has the adults who actually voted in the election. Many teachers woke up on Wednesday, November 9th wondering what to say to a room full of young, impressionable minds. Luckily, the Huffington Post gave this message as a jumping off point that morning, “We will protect you.”

Image result for protect clipart

In the days since the election, math and non-math teacher/bloggers have taken to the internet to tell how they handled November 9th and the days that followed. Chris Lehmann, a principal in Philadelphia, wrote a letter to educators who voted for Donald Trump. Lehmann asks these teachers to live up to the words in the Huffington Post piece and to protect their students. Michael Pershan gives this plea to listen to our students. Bree Pickford-Murray tells the tale of her week after the election, for which she has no words. And finally, Megan Schmidt gives us her take, which ends in one vote for kindness, but it’s the only vote that counts, her’s. Please if possible, share how you handled the days after the election in your class and how you will protect your students for the next four years and provide them with a venue and the skills to voice their fears and concerns!

~by Andrew Gael (@bkdidact)

Ten Letters for the President

I’ve mentioned my favorite podcast before. Recently 99% Invisible released Episode 235, Ten Letters for the President. It’s definitely worth listening to in light of recent events in U.S. politics.

Photo: Pete Souza

The podcast does a thorough job explaining the process of President Obama receiving tens of thousands of letters a day from people across the country. In reality, he only reads 10 letters each day which turns out to be less than 0.1% of the letters received. Those 10 letters are a small sample of the pulse, emotions, heartaches, and thoughts of thousands across the country. The president says, “These letters, I think, do more to keep me in touch with what’s going on around the country than just about anything else.”

I share this podcast episode for three reasons:

  1. It’s a reminder of the impact our current events can have on all of us; teachers, students, family, strangers, friends, enemies, cities, states, countries, and all humans. No matter how large the impact, I believe we as individuals can have a far greater impact with how we treat those we have contact with each day. Our students need to see us be good humans. We are in their daily world. Be good humans.

  2. These letters to the president are super important. If less than 0.1% of the daily letters received can positively inform and impact the president, then these letters could very well be more valuable than any tweet, blog post, or Facebook comment one might dispense into their social media bubble.

  3. I hope these letters continue to pour into the president, especially after January 20, 2017. I hope 10 letters continue to be read by the president each day. I hope those letters keep the president in touch with what’s going on. I hope that if something is on your heart, you write the president. I hope that if something is on your students’ hearts, they write the president. Be good humans when doing so. That 0.1% might be the most important percentage we ever teach in math.

~by Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel)

Uniting Through Community

This past week may have been one of the most important in our country’s history, no doubt.  Definitely in my own lifetime.  Things have gotten pretty polarizing, but I am hoping that we each take this as an incentive to go get involved in our own communities and connect with other people directly.  This is especially because we will never see completely eye-to-eye with anyone.  We need to start productive dialogue and try to understand each other.  The more this happens, the more united we will become despite our differences rather than becoming divided because of our differences.

This has made me think about how polarizing our own subject is that we teach!  I really wish that it wasn’t so true, but it is.  And one way that we can make it less so is to do the same thing: unite through building and getting involved in mathematical communities.

A few important organizations stick out to me whose goal is just that.  The first is Math Teacher’s Circles (@MathTeachCircle) and the second is the Global Math Project (@GlobalMathProj).  If you aren’t already involved in your local Math Teacher’s Circle, I strongly encourage you to do so!  If you don’t have one nearby, have you thought about starting one up?  And the Global Math Project is doing awesome things to spread the joy of mathematics to the world; you should go check them out.

Let’s all join together to move forward in staying united via creating community.  Math can, and should, bring people together!

~ by Matthew Engle (@pickpocketbme)

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Dia del Global Math Department







Dia del Global Math Department



Edited By Brian Bushart @bstockus

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Children Living in Poverty Can Solve CCSS OA Word Problems
Presented by Karen Fuson

Kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 children from backgrounds of poverty and non-native speakers of English can solve the ambitious types of addition and subtraction word problems in the Operations & Algebraic Thinking domain of the Common Core standards. How children represent and solve with math drawings will be discussed and examples will be shown. The learning path for teaching and helpful relationships among the OA CCSS will be described.

To join the meeting when it starts at 9pm Eastern (or RSVP if it’s before 9pm), click here.

Last week at Global Math, Gail Burrill shared about Mathematical Practices in AP Calculus. Click here to watch.

It Came From the #MTBoS

Thinking Deeply about Depth of Knowledge

Robert Kaplinsky has been doing great work on depth of knowledge for years now. In short, depth of knowledge is a way of classifying math problems based on the level of thought required to solve them. This post from 2014, in which he shares some wonderful videos of students solving problems at various depths of knowledge, is an excellent summary of the big idea.

Robert isn’t resting on his laurels, though. Instead, he is still thinking deeply about DoK and refining his own understanding of how to evaluate math problems using this framework. In his most recent post, Robert talks about shallowness of knowledge. In other words, what is the least amount of thinking that a student can do to get the right answer? Students tend to initially engage with math problems on a superficial level no matter their depth of knowledge, so it’s important to find problems that can’t be solved on a first pass.

If you’ve ever sat through a PD session on depth of knowledge and had trouble wrapping your head around what it looks like in a classroom, give Robert’s blog a read.

Written by Kent Haines (@KentHaines)

More on Problem Solving

@KentHaines and I are thinking along the same wavelength, problem solving. My focus is the lack thereof. In recent conversations, I have begun to notice more and more, the problem with Common Core is teachers’ lack of understanding of the standards’ rationale and of the standards themselves. My point is proven in @JSchwartz10a most recent post. If teachers understood just because a worksheet is stamped with a standard, it does not mean it actually matches the standard.  

Joe referenced another post which speaks to another gross misconception of many teachers. The Common Core works to create multiple entry ways of understanding concepts. Teachers who lack understanding of the rationale turn concept strategies into cumbersome procedures or tricks which undermine the original intent.

Written by Jenise Sexton (@MrsJeniseSexton)

Desmos Does It Again!

I had just come home from giving my second ever teacher-training session on Desmos activity builder when I saw on Twitter that my session was already outdated. We can now add videos to our activities AND multiple choice questions! I loved this article explaining the rationale.  

Doing that teacher-training made me realize it’s been a while since I read any blog posts about the Desmos activity builder, so I went searching for recent ones and found Cathy Yenca’s post about combining Desmos with Nearpod (@mathycathy) and Jennifer Vadnais’s post about ordering fractions (@RilesBlue). Both of these posts talk about using the new teacher tools – another new feature, but I did manage to put that into my presentation – just in the nick of time!

Written by Audrey McLaren (@a_mcsquared)

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