This Week at Global Math – 12/10/19







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Edited By Casey McCormick  @cmmteach

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight!

Math Play with a Purpose

Presented by David Coffey

Games are an effective way to engage students in learning. In this session, participants will consider ways to support the development of emerging mathematicians through purposeful play. The focus will be on the Mathematical Practices and the content domain of Number and Operations. However, the principles that we will address can be applied to any content and any grade.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 


Chasing Rabbits: Building a Lifetime Curiosity for Mathematics Through Arithmetic

Presented by 

Sunil Singh

This presentation will focus on binding the K to 12 math community with the deeper appreciation of arithmetic. Ideas and problems will be shared that intersect history and number theory, expanding our lens of rich mathematical content.

Register ahead of time by clicking here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

math-twitter-BLOG-’osphere



This week, I’m writing to you. Yes, you. Not the “you” you want to be, the “you” you think you need to be, or the “you” you think you are. Just you. Hopefully all of that makes sense to future-you.

We all are great at many things. When someone needs an ear to listen to them, we hear what they tell us. When someone asks for advice, we tell them what we think might help them. When someone is being too harsh on themselves, we bring clarity and sense, reminding them that they’re more amazing than they believe themselves to be. We go out of our way to do things for others and feel uncomfortable when the same is inevitably done in return.

We are our best selves for other people, which is incredible and makes the world a better place. When it comes to our own self, we are overly critical of our past self and overly optimistic of our future self. The only one who can fix that is you. Not past-you or future-you, only present-you.



What’s this article about, anyway? Keeping the MTBoS community living and healthy, one present-you at a time.



I’m going to re-share a post here which, if it were a child, would be doing everything it can to get more attention than it currently does. Blogs a post by Justin Lanier on our homepage, is an important part of the MTBoS Orientation. Blogging and (more importantly) reading other teachers’ blogs is the lifeblood of the MTBoS. I’m going to give a few more tips to bolster your blogability, whether it be reading or writing, as well as a few posts to get you started.

 

Jenna Laib (@jennalaib) shares a fascinating bit of dialogue between her and her student in a post.

 

Make a list, any list, just make it!

If you’re like me, or many other teachers, you probably find little snippets of time through your day to habitually pick up your phone and flick your thumb up and down your Twitter feed or email inbox. What do you do when someone’s post captures your attention and sparks your curiosity? Do you…

  1. Click on it and read the entire post right then and there?

  2. Copy the URL to your notes or open it in a tab for later?

  3. Email it to yourself to check out afterwards?

  4. Add it to your Reading List (Apple only)?

  5. Pause, think, and then keep scrolling?

 

Option A through to D above are ones I’ve certainly heard of or tried myself. E, however, is the most likely option, especially if I’m just jumping on Twitter for a couple of minutes with no purpose actively in mind. Present-you will naturally leave all of the work and responsibility to future-you. My advice throughout this post is to support future-you like you would a spouse, child, colleague or friend. Make bookmarking interesting links easier. Make an appointment in your calendar with yourself to actually read through something that past-you found perplexing. Is it motivation that is holding you back? Go for A from above and you’ll be sure to be inspired to do something proactive. Check out this post for some help deciding what apps might help you streamline the “I’ll read that later” process.

 

Jim Doherty (@mrdardy) shares his reflections about his growth as an educator in his post.





Read that thing! Reeeeead it!



While reading this post, you have just become future-you! Or have you? Does future-you ever exist or is it actually this perpetually non-existent superior version of present-you while past-you cops all of the slack? Either way, there’s only one version of you who can read and that’s present-you. As you read the words of another educator, keep in mind the thinking, effort and (in some cases) nervousness that is attached to those words. Consider their context (and the undoubted differences to your own) before you jump in to criticise. Opt for interrogating what they have written, in a positive and curious manner. Skeptical about their method? Find out more about what they believe and why they believe it. Really love what they’re saying? Ask questions about the intricacies that the post didn’t address, learn more about it. What I’m emphasising here is to start a conversation. Bloggers will often comment on the fact that they write for reflection and any feedback that comes back is a bonus. Writing what you don’t expect others to read is a normal experience of those who share their stories online and a common and unfortunate reality for many. This leads onto my next point…

 

Ivette Aguilar (@Ivette5th_RRISD) shares her experience with “My Favourite No.”

 

Comment and follow

For many blogging websites, owners are notified by email about new subscribers. Those subscribers then receive an email with their own version of the post in their inbox! Nothing shows that you want more of what you read than saying, “Hey, let me know when you do this again. I NEED to know!” Owners also get notified when someone comments on their post. What’s best about a good comment is that it follows directly after the post itself like a conga line of curiosity. No comments there yet? Start the conga line yourself and dance along to the thoughts of other readers. The “Follow” and “Leave a reply” buttons are getting too dusty, MTBoS!

 

Robin Schwartz (@mathconfidence) writes a short post about a short amount of amazing time in her lesson.

 

Sharing is caring!

So, you’ve actually held a promise to yourself – you’ve read something from your reading list! Yay! Give your past-self some much deserved credit and show your future-self who’s your favourite you. Let the world know and maybe even convince others that it’s worth their time too. Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful means of sharing, so use your virtual one to share your new knowledge. Copy and paste some of the best bits from the post, cuddle it in with some quotation marks, and apply the finishing move of a URL and the MTBoS and iTeachMath hashtags. Want to take it to the next level? Write a short (and I mean short!) post about what you loved most, what scrunched your eyebrows, or what questions you’ve had since reading it. Blogs are super-tweets and don’t get the amount of thought they deserve. Be the audience you wish you were writing to. Share the love.

 

Martin Joyce (@martinsean) synthesises his awesome experience at CMC South in his blog.

 

Get active.

I bet that you do great things in the classroom that other teachers (me included) would just love to read about. I love reading about the “I tried something new and it was awesome” posts, the “I tried something new and it was a trainwreck!” posts, and the “I haven’t tried anything new, here’s why.” posts. Whatever it be, I know I’m not the only one who would love to read it. Be sure to share your post in an effective way! Here’s a couple tips that I hope will get people clicking into your thoughts:

  • Don’t be afraid of using a hashtag or two, people like to filter Twitter through things like #MTBoS or #iTeachMath.

  • Find a photo or image to associate with your post, it will prevent it from looking like a sad link on people’s feeds.

  • Have any evidence of student work or thinking? Feature a photo! Photos of students doing maths is every teacher’s favourite spice.

  • Know of a couple people who might be interested in your thoughts? Tag them in. Can’t think of anyone? Tag me.

 

Written by John Rowe, @MrJohnRowe

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This Week at Global Math – 12/3/19







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Edited by Chase Orton  @mathgeek76

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight!

Mathacognition

Presented by Adam Yankay

We are more than the givers and takers of tests. “Mathacognition” is an exercise embedded in a pedagogy dedicated to developing the whole learner in your classroom. Mathacognition helps students articulate their emotional associations and goals with math class, identify helpful and impeding habits, advocate for themselves, and self-evaluate. In this session I will share my inspiration for developing Mathacognition, some wins and losses using it over the past few years, and the prompts I’ve been using this year that have helped my students believe that in my class they are more than merely the solvers of math problems.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar, click here!

Next Week!

Math Play with a Purpose

Presented by David Coffey

Games are an effective way to engage students in learning. In this session, participants will consider ways to support the development of emerging mathematicians through purposeful play. The focus will be on the Mathematical Practices and the content domain of Number and Operations. However, the principles that we will address can be applied to any content and any grade.

To register for this webinar, click here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

Women in Math & IC ME 14

Women in Math: By now [possibly via last week’s GMD newsletter] you may be aware of the responses to an AMS Notices “opinion piece” that was written by one of the AMS [American Mathematical Society] Vice Presidents. One of the more recent responses came from the Association for Women in Mathematics [@AWMmath] who tweeted:

I recommend learning more about AWM, in general; for example, they have a Moving Towards Action Workshop coming up at JMM [Joint Mathematics Meeting] in January 2020, which is also described in an AMS blog post written by Rachel Crowell. See the first link here as tweeted by Vanessa Rivera Quiñones:

If you are interested in reading another individual take on the matter of Diversity Statements, then you might check out the personal blog entry that was tweeted out by Izabella Laba:

Rather separately, Nicholas Jackson helped celebrated “Noethember” [portmanteau of Emmy Noether’s surname and November] by illustrating and describing women mathematicians at a rate of nearly one per day all month! He tweeted a full thread of them here:

It will be great to diversify further the collection of non-male mathematicians – historical and contemporary – whose names and work are not known widely enough. To this end, there is also a nascent account called Great Women of Mathematics [@GWOMaths] that you might check out [if you haven’t already].

IC ME 14 I wanted to space out this conference’s name because I’d rather it not be a high-up google return [I don’t know whether this will work]. The acronym refers to a quadrennial mathematics education gathering for which the 2016 Conference was in Hamburg, Germany, and the 2024 Conference will be in Sydney, Australia. This coming summer, the 2020 Conference is scheduled to happen in a country that I have visited several times [originally on a Fulbright Fellowship to learn about their mathematics education system while living there from 2008-09; and, most recently, to learn about Chinese linguistics in the summer of 2017]. International media outlets have reported on controversial domestic matters, which I think have received proportionally little attention; to this end, I strongly recommend reading the New York Times coverage here. You can link-chase from there back to a piece from August of 2018 that begins:

Please note the strong language used in the image above. To this end, I am quite interested in what others are thinking as pertains to attending this conference. As a full disclosure, I sent in a session proposal that I think is worthwhile reading irrespective of attendance [the linked topic is techniques to incorporate problem posing into teaching and assessments, and the paper stands at a mere 4 pages – including references – in length]. I have yet to hear back about the proposal’s status, and even then one needs to procure a visa [a process that I am admittedly concerned could be impacted negatively by this newsletter post as well as some of my tweets]. Still, I cannot imagine the mathematics education community organizing such an event and totally overlooking the numbers reported in the NYT above. [Also – and without engaging too deeply in whataboutism – I wish to note that I can see clear reasons why others would decide not to attend conferences in the United States based on government decisions by, in particular, the current administration].

Anyway: Below is my first tweet of what may be a growing thread. At the time of writing, there are two follow-up responses from superset organizing bodies. I may have committed grammatical errors in the Chinese that I typed [my Mandarin speaking is much better than my writing!] but, I clicked on ‘translate tweet’ just now and am sufficiently satisfied with google’s result:

Even if you choose not to speak out publicly about this particular matter, it will be optimal to educate yourselves and others around the alleged happenings.

Lastly, in an abrupt change of tone and to close on a lighter note: Check out the newest task from PlayWithYourMath:

As always: I will be most delighted to hear from anyone in/around the worlds of [mathematics] education about work that should be amplified or highlighted. Email, DM, @, snail mail, etc!
By Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]

Controversial Opinions 

I saw this tweet from Joshua Bowman (@Thalesdiciple) by way of Joel Bezaire (@joelbezaire) when he quoted it to say his opinion of mixed numbers.

You should definitely read the thread to learn more about his opinion of mixed numbers. Mr. Downin (@MrDownin) also had some things to add in his tweet.

Do you have a controversial opinion on mathematical notation? I’d love to hear about it. We can continue the conversation on Twitter!

By Amber Thienel (@amberthienel)

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This Week at Global Math – 11/26/19







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Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight!

Blunt Observations and Practical Strategies for Orchestrating Far More Impactful PD in Mathematics

Presented by Steve Leinwand

It is clear that what passes for professional development of teachers of math is seriously underperforming. Rarely does typical PD change teacher knowledge or classroom practice, which is why it so rarely improves student achievement. This presentation will take a careful look at why this is so and then discuss a set of accessible, but radical, changes in what passes for PD.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 

Mathacognition

Presented by Adam Yankay

We are more than the givers and takers of tests. “Mathacognition” is an exercise embedded in a pedagogy dedicated to developing the whole learner in your classroom. Mathacognition helps students articulate their emotional associations and goals with math class, identify helpful and impeding habits, advocate for themselves, and self-evaluate. In this session I will share my inspiration for developing Mathacognition, some wins and losses using it over the past few years, and the prompts I’ve been using this year that have helped my students believe that in my class they are more than merely the solvers of math problems.

Register ahead of time by clicking here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

Just Give Me A Reason
Just give me a reason, just a little bit’s enough
 
Creating Mathematicians

@BamRadioNetwork dropped Teaching Math to Students of Color? Do This, Not That with Rosa Isiah (@RosaIsiah) and Marian Dingle (@DingleTeach) on Saturday, November 23, 2019. In the #WeLeadEd #EdChat, these two brilliant leaders issued the following Call to Action: [let us] put our bias aside and create mathematicians. They proposed we do this by recognizing that all children have mathematical assets and considering student success outside of the standards of performance that center whiteness, by implementing Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in mathematics classes.

 
Be a Sponge

The Make Math Moments Virtual Summit (#MMMSummit) took place last weekend and was a resounding success with more than 15, 000 participants engaging in self-directed professional learning. The @MakeMathMoments Podcast that dropped last week, Reimagining the work in Math Classrooms, featured José Vilson (@TheJLV).

He shared with co-hosts, Kyle Pearce (@MathletePearce) and Jon Orr (@MrOrr_geek) the importance of building trust to center student voice. José issued the following Call to Action: push the line forward. He shared that in his early years of teaching, he was like a sponge; absorbing new ideas and strategies and fearlessly trying them out. José proposes that despite our years of experience in the classroom, we should keep learning, experimenting, failing, and refining our praxis.

The Perfect Circle

José shared a math moment that mattered to him; a math teacher who could draw a perfect circle, free-hand. Now, when I think of drawing perfect circles, I think of Alex Overwijk (@AlexOverwijk). I had the honour of hearing him speak at a Professional Learning session for Secondary Mathematics Educators in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada on October 31, 2019 and he posed the following questions:

  1. What do you value in your classroom?
  2. How do you evaluate what you value?

Alex shared his journey as an educator and how after two decades of traditional mathematics teaching, he threw it all out to find a way that centered students in their mathematical learning. He shared how he creates the conditions that hold space for and uphold student voice daily.

 
The Currency of Mathematical Learning

In his presentation, Back to Basics: (Re)-Defining the Currency of Mathematical Learning, at #OAMELeads on November 1, 2019, Nat Banting (@NatBanting) shared the following wisdom with conviction and passion:

  1. “Executing someone else’s decisions and directions is not doing [mathematics].”
  2. “Students have the right to make mathematical sense on their own terms.”

Nat issued the following Call to Action: that as mathematics educators we move towards student decision making as a basic element of our praxis.
 
By the time you read this, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) will have commenced Phase One Sanctions to protect student learning conditions from K-12. Students are our reason. Rosa. Marian. José. Kyle. Jon. Alex. Nat. Mine. Are they yours? If not, why? Can you find your way back?

 
Just a second we’re not broken just bent,
And we can learn to love again.

@HKhodai

Diversity Statements
 
Most likely you have heard by now, but in case you haven’t, the most recent issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society (a widely read mathematics publication) published an essay by Professor Abigail Thompson, VP of the American Mathematical Society and chair of the math department at UC Davis. In her essay, Prof. Thompson speaks out against the use of diversity statements in faculty hiring decisions, arguing that the practice amounts to a political litmus test similar to the McCarthy-era loyalty oaths that faculty had to sign to attest they weren’t communists. 
 
Her words have triggered strong opinions from both those in agreement and those who disagree with her views. In the interest of full transparency, I lie on the side of disagreement and would like to revoice one interesting perspective that I found recently. It comes from an organization called the Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (QSIDE). Last Saturday, they posted an update to the Prof. Thompson controversy that includes: (1) a response from UC Davis to clarify the university’s attitude toward diversity statements, (2) a letter from a group of mathematicians responding to the American Mathematical Society, (3) a response from the American Mathematical Society leadership, (4) a helpful update post from the Inclusion/Exclusion blog of the American Mathematical Society, and (5) steps on some things you can do if you disagree with the content of Prof. Thompson’s post.
 
Parable of the Polygons
 
Relatedly, Vi Hart and Nicky Case have created Parable of the Polygons, an interactive post that explores some of the mathematics of diversity (or lack thereof) in a society where individuals hold “bias”. It doesn’t exactly define what is meant by “bias”, but it appears it means when someone only wants to be around people who are like them. For example, a person with a bias of 80% will move to another community if less than 80% of people are like them. Essentially, the post shows that when individuals have only a slight bias, society tends to become segregated. Further, in a society that starts segregated, low bias does not have the intended effect of correcting for such segregation. However, when individuals start demanding diversity—that is, they will move to another community if too many people are like them—society desegregates, even when such demands for diversity are small.
I strongly encourage everyone to check it out. It’s an interesting example of what you can make when you combine mathematics, graphic design, game design, and coding to address social issues. And while it’s certainly a fine start toward thinking about diversity (for a counterexample, see above), it also highlights the limitations of a purely mathematical approach. That is to say, lots of questions remain, and it could be argued that the post does not send a critical enough message about bias and diversity. For instance, is bias simply located within the individual? Is it simply a choice, or is it also constructed and reproduced through institutional and social norms with which even those “without bias” can be complicit? How about diversity—is it always good, or can diversity sometimes be used to benefit mostly dominant groups by giving them surface-level exposure to other cultures without attending to equity and power? 
 
Solving Quadratics
 
On a completely tangential note, I wanted to end by sharing this wonderful post by Prof. Pho-Shen Lo at Carnegie Mellon University on an alternative way to solve quadratic equations. Next time I offer an explanation for the proof of the quadratic formula, I will be sure to reference this idea.
 
@melvinmperalta 
 

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This Week at Global Math – 11/19/19







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Edited By Casey McCormick  @cmmteach

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight!

Women Who Count: Honoring African American Women Mathematicians

Presented by 

Shelly Jones

Women Who Count: Honoring African American Women Mathematicians is a children’s activity book featuring the important work, accomplishments and everyday lives of African American women mathematicians, including the women from the book and movie Hidden Figures. Although the book is geared to children in grades 3 – 8, it is appropriate for all ages. The book includes a portrait sketch and short biography for each of 29 featured mathematicians each followed by elementary and middle school activity pages. Learn about the creative work of several of the mathematicians featured in this book.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 


Blunt Observations and Practical Strategies

for Orchestrating Far More Impactful PD in Mathematics


Presented by Steve Leinwand

It is clear that what passes for professional development of teachers of math is seriously underperforming. Rarely does typical PD change teacher knowledge or classroom practice, which is why it so rarely improves student achievement. This presentation will take a careful look at why this is so and then discuss a set of accessible, but radical, changes in what passes for PD.

Register ahead of time by clicking here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

Mutual Exclusivity in Math Education

 

 

I am an ENTJ. According to the test created by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, this means that I am Extroverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, and Judging. I first remember receiving this label via the Myers Briggs test when I was 15. I remember resisting the labeling, mainly for the letter J. In my early years, I thought that this J meant that I was judgemental, which is the last thing a teenager wants to hear. I would much rather have received the polar coordinate, P, meaning that I was capable of perceiving, and I began cultivating this skill to overcompensate. Over the past 20 years, I have tried to develop this fourth personality domain in hopes of shifting my personality type to be an ENTP.  But, I took the test again last week, and, alas, I am still an ENTJ. 



As I settle in on the fact that, at least for me, Myers and Briggs were right about personality descriptors not changing despite time and concerted effort towards changing one’s mental function, I began reflecting on how my personality type, specifically my J-ness, may have impacted my love of mathematics, and encouraged my pursuit of being a math teacher. 



Western culture often portrays mathematics as a dichotomy, or two contrasting elements that are defined as mutually exclusive. For many of us, mathematics felt comfortable because of the present duality between right and wrong. I remember as a young mathematician telling my grandfather that I liked math because there was only one right answer to a math problem. This “objective” view of mathematics felt like safety to me, in my J-ness. It made the world look black or white; good or bad; and gave me a sense of up or down. 



In the beginning of my teaching career, when I taught students, my J-ness dominated how I viewed their work. When I walked up to a student working on a task or problem, my immediate inclination was to classify it using this dualistic lens of right or wrong. This meant that the language I used to address students sounded like, “Something’s not right here…,” or, “Let’s see where you made your mistake,” or, “Yep! That’s right!”

It wasn’t until about 5 years into my teaching career where my J-ness caught up with me when I met Anna. Anna was a mathemagician. Anna made more math look like magic than anyone I have ever met. When Anna’s hand shot up in class, my heart jumped down into my stomach and into my throat at the same time. You see, Anna’s exuberance in answering the mathematical questions I posed to the class brought on moments of panic because her way of thinking never matched my own. And it wasn’t just that. When I walked up to see how Anna had worked a problem, to me, the problem looked a lot like this: 

It often appeared like a tangled web of miracles and magic with mathematical symbols. And the scariest part was her answers were often the same as mine. 



One day in class, I remember asking a question and Anna zoomed her hand up. I called on her to respond and she gave an answer that matched my own, only to give a completely different path to the answer. I told her she was wrong. But Anna persisted. She requested authority and asked if she could come to the board and explain her answer. I granted her request, sitting on pins and needles that my lesson plan was shredding away and I was losing control. As Anna explained in all confidence her problem solving strategy, I started to hear something. It sounded like “Ahhhhh. Now I get it” and “Oh. That makes so much sense now.”



Still, my J-ness prevailed. I was like 

 



I started to stand up and take back control of not only my lesson plan, but my LIFE. But the chorus of the class pushed me to pause. A few minutes earlier, the whole class had been like a wild fire of hands and low dispositions with lots of “I don’t get its”. And then, I looked around to see students bopping into their practice problems like 



 

And so, I just stopped and let Anna be the teacher that day. 



Slowly, over time and with much concerted effort to learn, that class taught me that my dualistic thinking made me miss the mathematical brilliance of students like Anna, silencing and erasing the curiosity of hundreds of children that I had previously taught. I realize now that viewing mathematics as a mutually exclusive subject excluded my students from experiencing the magic that comes with mathematics, the feeling of joy and awe in seeing their thinking as more than right and wrong. Because I had classified mathematics in this objective way, because of my J-ness, I was incapable of approaching students with curiosity. Without curiosity about their mathematical thinking, their work looked like a jumbled mess of right and wrong moments instead of emerging understandings around new ideas and wonderings. 



I now see that our world is far less dualistic than I realized; that there is a gradient to most every system, structure, person, and thing. As an ENTJ, I have to work hard to see this third space, to approach every binary structure with a question instead of judgment so that I can value what, for me, was invisible for such a long time. And slowly, overtime I’ve begun to perceive this third space as where the math magic is happening. 

 

 

Now when I see student work like this, shared by Viv Watson

 

To me, it is more than an example of a REALLY AWESOME RESPONSE. This response presses me into my third space, into the gradient, into the space between to see that mathematics is bigger than what I think. It reminds me to pause on my J-tendency to classify the student’s answer as right or wrong, and be curious about what this student is teaching me about the mutually inclusive world we live in, and how math can help with that. 

 

Written by Lauren Baucom, @LBmathemagician

“Have you heard of Desmos?”

I was inspired to write this month’s article about something that I hear a lot of folks talking about… Desmos. People love it. That’s right, people. Not just us maths teachers, actual people. Who are these people? They are school administrators, sports statisticians, YouTubers, parents, and (most importantly) students. This matters a lot. These people are different from you and me. I am writing an article in a newsletter started by a community of like minded people and you are one of those like minded people reading this article. We are like minded due to the fact that we both like maths. We know that people don’t necessarily enjoy maths, and a rare few actually admit they love maths. Some folks might recall an experience or make a general statement about their genetic predisposition to be good at math or not, while others might just avoid conversing about it at all. People aren’t the same about Desmos. People who have heard about Desmos love Desmos. Love. People even wear Desmos merchandise and place stickers on their laptops like tattoos of their one true love. I even hear that some teachers roll up the bottom of their pants to show off their Desmos socks. People love Desmos. So, what’s all the hype about?

 

Millenial Math Nerd (Kelsey Anselmi) recently wrote a post, I love Desmos and I don’t care who knows it, in which she shares some great activity banks and tips for teachers looking to up-skill in their Desmos ability. In amongst her declaration of love towards the calculator, she wrote, “Believe it or not, there are still teachers out there who have NEVER heard of Desmos”. Attendees to CMC South last week would have been doing very well to be one of those teachers Kelsey described, with the search term, Desmos, popping up 31 times in the conference program. A lot of teachers are sharing their love for Desmos, and they’re all talking about it in the same way. They talk about the way it transforms the learning experience for students. They talk about how easy it is to use. They talk about how much their students love using the classroom activities. They talk about the audible groan from the students when you pause an activity from the teacher dashboard. They talk about how it has helped their students learn to love math. It’s inspiring to listen to a teacher whose practice has been significantly impacted by Desmos. 

 

 

In last week’s edition of the Global Math Department Newsletter, Benjamin Dickman, shared a thought I occasionally hear from fellow maths teachers. When talking about building some cool graphs on Desmos, Ben wrote, “These are all great, but they leave me [and I’m sure others] wondering about the creative process behind these graphs. This can manifest as inspiring – I’m curious about these great graphs and want to get better! – or as discouraging – these people are doing incredible work that is simply beyond me and anything I could make”. His #DesmosDemos suggestion was superb and I would like to reiterate his suggestion of checking out some of Andrew Knauft’s videos.



Teachers struggling to keep across the fast pace of Twitter feeds now also have the opportunity to ask some open questions to other Desmos users on the Desmos Educators Facebook group. This question from Ana Ri is definitely one of the most frequently asked questions of teachers searching for the right activity for their students:

 

Some great suggestions to Ana include using the Desmos Bank and searching Twitter, many people using the collections feature of Desmos to bookmark and sort these for easy access. The Desmos team has also replaced their bundles with collections, some of which feature newly public activities! Here are three extra collections from avid Desmos users, which I think are super handy:

 

How do create great activities you ask? Although it just had its third birthday in September, The Desmos Guide to Building Great (Digital) Math Activities is still a fantastic resource for thinking about building meaningful lessons on Desmos. As for the actual construction, I’d make a detour to learn.desmos.com to watch some great Activity Builder tutorials and stop by teacher.desmos.com/labs and activate Marbleslides, Card Sorts, and the Computation Layer. Once you’re done, flick out a tweet with the hashtag #ImproveMyAB to get some pro tips about taking it to the next level. Here are some extra spots that might help sharpen your building skills along the way:

 

Lastly, a lesson is only as good as its facilitation. I have modelled the ways I try to maximise the teacher dashboard to harness student input and mould the lesson around the students through PD I’ve run, but I’m often met with comments like, “you know your way around the dashboard so fluently, I don’t think I could use it that well with my students.” I think it’s important to think of a Desmos activity like any other teaching material you’d use with your students. I use teacher pacing to shepherd the class through an activity, giving time to screens that need time, snapshots and pausing to orchestrate productive mathematical discussions, and anonymise to create a safer environment for open opinions. This isn’t significantly different from my non-digital lessons, Desmos just makes it easier to achieve those goals of pacing, selecting and sequencing, and non-judgemental discussions. Sure class codes can be given out to students and the activity set to autopilot, but we know the occasional turbulence that can occur in a classroom environment, and we’re all better off with an experienced pilot at the helm. Here’s two must reads for those looking to get more out of their Desmos lessons:

 

So, that’s it! The hype, in my opinion, is completely worth it. Desmos is more than a calculator. It already has and will continue to change how we think about teaching and learning mathematics, and it’s more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.

 

Written by John Rowe, @MrJohnRowe

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This Week at Global Math – 11/12/19







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Edited By Chase Orton  @mathgeek76

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This Week!

Assessing for Understanding

Presented by Daniel Kauffman

During this webinar, we will explore the value of assessing for understanding. We will discuss methods to shift our assessments so that students have an opportunity to showcase their understanding of concepts, not just an ability to produce answers. Additional discussion will be focused on tools and strategies to utilize in the classroom to promote understanding.

Register by clicking here!

Next Week 

GMD Rewind!

GMD Rewind: Watch a session that you wanted to see, but did not or rewatch one of the sessions you attended! Then blog or tweet about what you learned and will apply to your own classroom!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

Information Gap

A ‘math language routine’ refers to a structured but adaptable structure for amplifying, assessing, and developing students’ language according to this document from Stanford University Graduate School of Education.

One of my favorite math language routines (MLR) is the Information Gap. The purpose of an Information Gap is to create a need for students to communicate. Achieve the Core (@achievethecore) has a recent webinar about the math language routines and has some wonderful explanations. In it, Chrissy Newell (@MrsNewell22) talks about how she takes a problem from a 4th grade standard and creates an Information Gap to use with students. There is also a video of students participating in the Information Gap.   

Another resource for Information Gap is from Cathy Dickson (@mathreflective). In this tweet she shared a video from her YouTube channel describing what an Information Gap is and providing an example.

Written by Amber Thienel (@amberthienel)

#DesmosDemo & Data Literacy

Although @Desmos & Data Literacy overlap [e.g. What’s Going On In This Graph? partnership with the New York Times] this post is not about their intersection.     

Desmos Demo: I would like to see the hashtag #DesmosDemo become more popular, and my succinct[ish] rationale follows.   

I have noticed some very impressive Desmos graphs. One recent example arose when I was perusing the Desmos subreddit, which led to this origami graph of a piece of paper folding into a crane [click through for the GIF]:

 

Another pair of examples arose when I asked [on behalf of another math teacher] about having students recreate the following in Desmos:
Three people [Desmos links via creators: @mrchowmath, @pattystephens, @melvinmperalta] made or already had something to this effect:
 

These are all great, but they leave me [and I’m sure others] wondering about the creative process behind these graphs. This can manifest as inspiring – I’m curious about these great graphs and want to get better! – or as discouraging – these people are doing incredible work that is simply beyond me and anything I could make.

Idea: What if math educators [and graph enthusiasts, more generally] did screen captures as they made these creations in Desmos? Viewers could observe the process directly and (1) learn techniques to build on their own curiosity while (2) noting the confusion that inevitably arises, which might reduce discouragement.
I have proposed #DesmosDemo as a hashtag to accompany such descriptions; so far, we already have a couple of great examples from @aknauft:
Ae you willing to make one? No graph is too simple, and I’d be happy to see ones that didn’t work out, too! If you @ me, then I will amplify as best as I can.
 

Data Literacy: I have noticed a recent uptick in calls for shifting mathematics classes towards “data literacy” [or something similarly named] which coincide with a Jo Boaler [@joboaler] appearance on @Freakonomics as well as an op-ed that she coauthored for the LA Times:

You can find some responses to the Freakonomics podcast located in various tweets, but here I’d like to recommend a paper from Laurie Rubel [@LaurieRubel] and Thomas Philip:
 

Below are two excerpts, which come from a paper that I think deserves the attention of most anyone thinking about shifting towards data literacy:
Excerpt 1, Power-With versus Power-Over

Excerpt 2, Conclusions [Emphasis Added]
The full paper is available [for free!] here. I know that reading a research paper is a Big Ask if one’s preferred consumption of information is in tweet-sized chunks. So, please know that I do not make this recommendation whimsically.
Closing ICYMI [aka Saving the Best for Last]: There is a Must-Listen podcast discussion “about the culture of mathematics” between Marian Dingle [@DingleTeach] and Cathery Yeh [@YehCathery]. Less than 30 minutes, and worth listening to more than once! The link above contains a transcript, too.
As always: Feel free to get in touch with me – by email, by @’ing me, by DM, snail mail, carrier pigeon, etc – if there is work in/around the world of mathematics education that you believe should be highlighted.
Written by Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]

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This Week at Global Math – 11/5/19







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Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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GMD Rewind

There’s no new session this week which provides an opportunity to watch a session that you wanted to see, but did not or re-watch one of the sessions you attended!

Next Week 

Assessing for Understanding

Presented by Daniel Kauffman

During this webinar, we will explore the value of assessing for understanding. We will discuss methods to shift our assessments so that students have an opportunity to showcase their understanding of concepts, not just an ability to produce answers. Additional discussion will be focused on tools and strategies to utilize in the classroom to promote understanding.

Register ahead of time by clicking here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

Why It’s Okay to Cry At Work
 

Teaching is HARD. This should come as a surprise to no one reading this, but it is important to name, to accept, and to take a deep breath and remember every once in a while. Not only is teaching hard, it can also be a deeply personal, vulnerable, and emotional profession. On top of that, it’s November – you have almost three months of school under your belt, you are about to enter into the exciting but grueling holiday months, and you are tired.
 
For some teachers, it is in this time of extra-tiredness that our emotions are heightened. Most teachers reflect – or judge themselves – after each class they teach on whether they’ve hit the high bar they set for themselves, considering questions like Did my kids learn as much as I had planned for them to? Did I check in with all my students? Do I know what they’re understanding (or not)? Teachers are constantly comparing their pedagogical actions – what they do in the classroom – with their pedagogical responsibility – the expectations they set for themselves. When teachers identify that their actions and sense of responsibility aren’t aligned, we refer to this as the introduction of a conflict. It is this conflict that has the potential to contribute to an array of negative emotions like discomfort or frustration.
 
Our research team has found that identifying this conflict – and all the emotions that come with it – may actually make you a better teacher.  First, these emotions can act as a signal to you that what is actually happening in your classroom isn’t exactly what you had wanted to happen. By addressing your feelings head on, you can make sense of what the nature of this conflict is, including potential causes or solutions. In this sense, emotions can be a powerful motivator to help you make sense of your current teaching practice and make necessary adjustments so you can continue to grow as a teacher.
 
So the next time you are at school and your class didn’t go perfectly and you feel upset or discouraged or maybe even that you want to cry, lean into those emotions instead of suppressing it. It means you are doing something right. Use that feeling or those tears to clue you into the conflict and motivate you to think about ways you could address it. Try something different tomorrow, seek out a colleague for support, or leave school a little earlier than planned to take time to process your day. Most importantly, give yourself a little grace and find comfort in knowing that it’s okay to cry at work.
 
Written by Katherine Schneeberger McGugan (@kath_schnee)
with support from Brette Garner (@brettegarner) & Ilana Horn (@ilana_horn).

Math Ethnic Studies Framework

 
In early October, the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) released a draft ethnic studies framework for K-12 mathematics. The framework seeks to situate mathematics in its historical and cultural contexts and highlight mathematics as a site of power, oppression, identification, and resistance. The framework is built off work to extend ethnic studies to other subjects within the K-12 curriculum. According to Tracy Castro-Gill, the ethnic studies program manager at SPS, the framework is not a legal mandate on schools but rather suggestions for teachers to have new types of conversations in their classrooms.


 
I was curious about the story behind the framework. This is what I’ve pieced together so far. In 2017, the Seattle King County chapter of the NAACP passed a resolution calling on SPS to adopt an ethnic studies requirement for elementary and secondary schools. This led to the development of an ethnic studies task force and, eventually, a working group to support and implement the development of an ethnic studies curriculum. Information on the resolution and task force can be found here: Ethnic Studies – Seattle Public Schools. In 2019, Senators Hasegawa, Conway, Frockt, Wellman, Wilson, and Saldaña sponsored a bill to:
 

  1. “adopt essential academic learning requirements and grade-level expectations that identify the knowledge and skills that all public school students need to be global citizens in a global society with an appreciation for the contributions of diverse cultures” (SB 5023(2)), and 
  2. “identify and make available ethnic studies materials and resources for use in grades seven through twelve” (SB 5023(3)).

 
The bill also created an Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee. The draft mathematics framework grew out of these efforts.
 
The framework has been met with much controversy. One criticism comes from those that ridicule the idea that 2 + 2 = 4 and the quadratic formula can be racist. This, I believe, is a misunderstanding of the framework. In my reading, the framework would suggest that reciting the quadratic formula without knowing some kind of derivation of it represents just as much an incomplete understanding of the concept as not understanding its roots (no pun intended) in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Just as a culture of rote memorization has prevented many people from entering the mathematics community, a culture of decontextualized mathematics can prevent many students from seeing themselves as potential contributors to the subject. The question, of course, becomes whether cultural and historical knowledge belongs in a mathematics classroom. It raises the questions: what, exactly, counts as mathematics? And what are the purposes and uses of mathematics education? At the very least, this is a deeper conversation worth having than simply shouting that the authors of the framework are themselves racist.
 
@melvinmperalta

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This Week at Global Math – 10/29/19







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Edited By Casey McCormick  @cmmteach

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Tonight!

The Era of Resource Abundance

Presented by Hilary Kreisberg

Tired of spending hours searching for fun activities and tasks to elevate your lesson? Tired of being distracted by “imposter resources” which look pretty but don’t truly support conceptual understanding? Come learn how to stop being tired and start being productive by understanding how to analyze resources to transform your teaching.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 


GMD Rewind: Watch a session that you wanted to see, but did not, or re-watch one of the sessions you attended! Then blog or tweet about what you learned and how you will apply it to your own classroom!

Find the archives of previous sessions here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

The delicate balance between solidarity & erasure

For the past 10 days, our fellow educators in Chicago have been teaching. But, they haven’t been teaching their normal lesson plans, filled with rich tasks, investigations, and developing mathematical inquiry. Rather, they’ve spent their last 10 days educating their students, community members, local political officials, and the rest of the world what it looks like to organize a strike that is about more than money. 



The Chicago Teachers Union (@CTULocal1) has not only been striking for fair pay, but for smaller class sizes, affordable housing for students, sanctuary policies for immigrant families, and the assurance that every student would have access to a nurse and a school psychologist. Since October 18th, 32,000+ Chicago Public School teachers and staff have been standing their ground as their local unions (Service Employees International Union Local ‘73 & Chicago Teachers Union) have negotiated terms with Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@LightfootforChi). 



With the announcement of the strike, Mayor Lightfoot announced the canceling of classes for approximately 360,000 students until a settlement can be reached. Parents, impacted by the sudden lack of consistent and free childcare offered through the services of public school, may fear that their students will fall behind in their studies, having missed six days (and counting!) of formal schooling. Yet, as educators, we must consider that students may learn far more during this six-day reprieve of formal education with the informal learning they are currently garnering. It is in this same vein that I read Glenn Waddell’s (@gwaddellnvhs) tweet, posted earlier this week: “Every act of teaching is a political act. Every. Single. One”. While this post was directed at the topic of lesson planning with a monolingual and monocultural lens based on the work of Dr. Josè Medina (@josemedinajr89), the concept transfers to acknowledge that the learning of these 360,000 students is also political in nature.



In the event of the Chicago Teachers Union Strike, students may be learning about the politics involved in what can often appear to be an apolitical public education. Students may begin to gain understanding as they watch their teachers model what it means to stand for justice. Students may begin to feel the local inconvenience of having a public right (e.g. the right to education) paused in the name of a larger, global civic right and duty. Students may even recognize the agency and power that they hold within themselves to create change. 



There is a great deal of education that we fail to name and/or honor because it does not fit in the nice, neat confines of the public schooling of which we have become accustomed. And so, out of necessity, oppression, or ease, it is erased. 



Below, I share three examples of erasure in education that I found this week on the wide open world of Twitter. 

 

  1. The amount of land loss of Native Americans in the last 150 years.  Shared by Ranjani Chackraborty (@ranjchak)


This is an example of physical erasure. Many still refuse to recognize the effects of colonization on Native American people, and the acculturation enforced on their children as they attend schools that are centered on the Eurocentric values of their oppressor. Yet, this graphic makes that erasure evident. 



What do you notice and wonder about the differences between these two graphs? (Click for the dynamic video; also scroll for others, & follow Rajani). 

       

 

  1. #BlackWallStreet & the #TulsaMassacre: With the hit show “Watchmen’s” premiere featuring the Tulsa Massacre, many observers were left wondering why they had never heard of 1) one of the largest massacres in US history, 2) the existence of Black Wall Street, and/or 3) how our public education could erase such a pivotal event. Regina King (@ReginaKing), the star superhero of the show, shared the following tweet to assist viewers in (re)learning the history behind this event. 

 

  1. Doug Robertson (@TheWeirdTeacher) discussed his desire to erase the phrase, “Does that make sense?” from his teaching vocabulary. The replies in this thread give great examples of how to replace this question with others that may distribute power to students that issues them agency to participate in question forming and answering. 

 

 I share these three examples to demonstrate how easily events can be erased from history, from our presence of mind, and from our vocabulary. I also share these examples as an act of solidarity with the teachers of Chicago, as they continue to place their mark on history, and refuse to be erased, while also refusing the erasure of their students’ needs. I celebrate the movement of bringing those on the margins towards the center, and the (re)learning and (re)centering of what we want our students to learn as citizens of our society-at-large. It is most certainly more than just the mathematics we are tasked with teaching in school. 

There have been many acts of kindness shown towards the teachers on strike in Chicago. Some have sent pizza, others doughnuts and coffee, and others have shared their time. Chance the Rapper (@ChancetheRapper), a Chicagoan by birth, shared his platform on “Saturday Night Live” to demonstrate solidarity with the teachers, staff, and students, and to remind them that the fight is worth it. 

You may wonder how you, individually, can show solidarity with our fellow educators in Chicago. On Twitter, they are using the tags #CTUSEIUstrike, #PutItInWriting, #FairContractNow. The more traffic to these tags, the larger presence that the strike receives from local and national media, and the more pressure applied for both sides to come to an agreement over the terms at stake. The Chicago Teachers Union has asked for educators across the country to use social media to show support by wearing #RedForEd, a similar demonstration of unity in the unprecedented number teacher strikes in 2018, including my home state of North Carolina. We also know from last year that this teacher strike is not specifically about Chicago, and that this movement for justice for this group may usher in justice and opportunity for others. 

 

Whatever your choice in showing solidarity for this group and this moment, may it simply not be to erase it from consciousness and history. 



Written by Lauren Baucom, @LBmathemagician

Hidden Gems of the MTBoS

Sitting on the couch, scrolling through the seemingly endless number of TV series at my fingertips, I found myself searching for something to watch that was as close as possible to the previous series I had just binged my way through. My wife and I are obsessed with British crime shows, especially those featuring David Tennant. After little success, I habitually picked up my phone to keep up-to-date on the 100 Twitter users I closely follow. In that moment I realised that, just like my Netflix choices, my Twitter choices represented an extremely narrow and unvaried sample of what is available. I had previously convinced myself that I was supportive of the growth of the #MTBoS and #iTeachMath communities, but the mere presence of my Top Drawer list shows my bias towards users with an already large number of followers. My rule of “I’ll follow any teacher that follows me” was clearly not enough. So, this week on the Global Math Department Newsletter, I’ve picked five fabulous teachers with 100 followers or less. If you’re wondering how you can do the same, head here for inspiration and here for the roadmap to get there.

@KP_CUi 

It’s no secret that Maths Twitter folk love a good Open Middle problem. I myself have gotten my fair share of the MTBoS limelight for a few problems I’ve shared with the community. What I love about this post is the simplicity of the prompt this teacher gave to their students, the mode in which they set the challenge to them, and their thoughts on the experience overall. A lot in one tweet!

 

 

@pokybloom

Here’s a post that, when I started using Twitter a few years ago, would have seen veteran MTBoS users come to the rescue. A lot of Maths teachers who have persevered through the early stages of using Twitter often recall having their cries for help answered. Sadly, too many tweets go unheard. Whether it’s through a slightly incorrect hashtag (as appears to be the case here, although using #nctm is arguably better than the official ones for NCTM events), a quiet time of day or year, or just a lack of active followers, getting help is not easy when you’re starting out.

 

 

@MsAYoungren

I picked this next one out because Annette’s experience on Twitter seems quite common amongst many of the maths folk who jump online for some inspiration. From her feed, it appears that Annette likes to share good stuff that comes her way through retweets and jumps online every so often. This tweet typifies the love that is so often shared through the platform, while also including such a courageous reflection and a commitment to contribute to the community. Quite early, I took on the approach “Dance like nobody’s watching and sing like nobody’s listening”, which enabled me to use Twitter first for myself as a mode of reflection, leaving any attention or insight from others as a welcome, but not expected, bonus.

 

@talking_math

Many frequent users of the MTBoS started engaging in the online sphere through their blogs. Well, I certainly did. Typing up a post was often the result of my mind overloading with thoughts about something that caused my eyebrows to scrunch – whether it was for good or bad. Mrs. Portnoy (AKA @talking_math) occasionally shares her blog posts through her Twitter account. She’s been teaching for more than twenty years, so there’s clearly no lack of substance in what she writes. Here’s my favourite bit from her latest post in which she’s reflecting about her own children’s views toward mathematics:



“I just wish, somewhere along the line, someone, or something had sparked a love of math… Math can be more than just learning concepts and completing assignments.”

 



 

@mramarupareja



Amaru is a frequent user of Twitter and regularly retweets great highlights from the iTeachMath and MTBoS communities, often with a nice little insight. He also tends to post great little snippets of his students doing and talking about maths, which is guaranteed to enrich anyone’s feed. I decided to include Amaru in this post mainly because I wasn’t already following him before! Somehow, his account slipped past my “follow back other teachers” rule and I’m so glad that I was able to discover his account and bring more maths joy to my screen. This tweet is just a sample of the great things he shares regularly.

 

I’m going to leave this here as a call to action to regular users of the Twitter maths community to continue to support those who are still determining whether they are getting as much out of the Twitter community as they themselves put in. These are only a handful of many amazing educators whose number of followers does not represent the quality of the tweets they put out.

 

Written by John Rowe, @MrJohnRowe

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