Carl's Teaching Blog

A place to talk about teaching and learning

Tag: MTBoS30 (Page 2 of 6)

#NCTMBoston Jealousy coverage. All the Storifys, and links to slides, from this years conference.

So a couple of days ago I was in a warm, safe environment, learning a lot about math teaching and interacting with people from all over the country.  Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to be back at home teaching.  The last marking period just ended lots of kids need help to finish the projects they need for the grade. We also have this big school-wide field trip that I hadn’t fully planned, we call them “Intensives.” The whole school was preparing for these and it felt like I wasn’t pulling my weight. But mostly, and let’s be real, my kids NEED me.  Instead of listening to the advice of @crstn85 and many others, I took the last bus out of South Station and went in to work.

When I got to work I discovered that work was…just another day at work. Noone REALLY would have missed me, except the personnel secretary.

So then I came home and tore into twitter and started trying to piece together what I could have gained from spending another day learning and growing, and I made a bunch of Storifys to sort of capture the thinking:

Storify stories that I made:



Other Storify Stories from around the Blogosphere:

Using YAMM to send personal emails to students

So I needed to convince students to open up an email on a Friday night, so they would know to come in to Saturday School the next day.  So I decided to use YAMM!  YAMM is Yet Another Mail Merge, and it is an add on for google sheets.

How do you use it to send emails to each of your students?

1. Write a draft of the email that you want to send but don’t send it, keep it as a draft.  In the email if there are places where you want the student’s first or last name to appear use <<first>> or <<last>>.  Here is the email that I sent:

Dear <<First>>,

I’m coming back early from my conference because I wanted to make sure that as many students earn credit as possible.  Given that you, yes you <<First>> <<Last>>, have a chance to earn credit, please come to Saturday school to take advantage of it.  If you already gave the assignment to one of my assistants, let me know.
I hope to see a lot of kids on Saturday,
The next step is to create a google sheet with the kids first and last name, as well as their email addresses in each row.  It’s important that the first column of the spreadsheet have the headers, which would be ‘first’, and ‘last’ above the columns with that information.  Inside of this google sheet, you can go to the add on market place, search for YAMM and authorize it.
The final step is to go through and carry out the YAMM instructions.  It walks you through it, but here are the basics.  The first window will ask if you want to buy anything, but purchases are optional.  It will ask you for the recipients, which would be the email addresses.  Then, you choose the draft and it loads all of the recent draft emails from the associated email account.  Finally, you can test send the emails, or send them all!

The Fear of Being Shipped On

Fair warning.  Since it’s late, in a couple of ways, this post might get a little ramble-y.  It’s late at night, or at least late for me.  I wanted to crash since I got home but I spent a bunch of time working on Powerpoint instead.  This blog is also late on posts, behind is a better word, as I am on the verge of missing 3 out of 4 days for this 30 day challenge.  I imagine I can pick back up with a flurry of activity during the conference.

One of the reasons I am busy is that now is the end of the 3rd cycle of our year and our students are finishing up their final projects. These final projects cause kids to work late and freak out and otherwise barely hold it together right until the very end.

Shipping, a term to describe finishing a project and meeting expectations on time, is scary for for kids.  It’s scary for adults too.  Seth Godin talks a lot about fear of shipping, as does a lot of the internet. He writes:

Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.

Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you’re exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself.

It’s no wonder we’re afraid to ship.

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#AprilBlogaday meets #MTBoS30

This marks the 5th post of my #MTBoS30, which is continuous daily blogging that began with @crstn85 ‘s post on April 1st.  There seems to be a similar set of blogging taking place simultaneously using the #AprilBlogaday.  I’m not sure whether or not these two things have ever been brought together.  Seems weird that these two events have yet to have any kind of cross-promotion.

#AprilBlogaday seems like the bizzaro Seinfeld episode of the #MTBoS30.  It seems like it centers around a list of prompts that are updated reguarly on the #AprilBlogaday Google Sspreadsheet while #MTBoS30 keeps things open for bloggers.

It looks to have been started by another person whose name starts with ‘Chris’.  Chris Crouch (@the_explicator) spread the word early in the month with a number of calls to action tweets like this one:

Blog writers coming from across the educational spectrum have been joining #AprilBlogaday, leading to a wide diversity of potential posts.  #MTBoS30 is focused on the awesomest of subject areas, and with that leads to more depth and focus on a certain topics.

Moving forward, I think I will incorporate some of the #AprilBlogaday ideas into my blog. Given how often I am short on ideas for posts, I think I may use some of the #AprilBlogaday prompts with my posts, but I must stop short of committing to join that movement as I am already knee deep in other people’s #MTBoS30 posts that I need to catch up on. Regardless of that, it is still inspiring and invigorating to see educators reflecting online.  Here is my first attempt at using an #AprilBlogaday prompt

#AprilBlogaday Prompt 4/1:  Are you where you thought you’d be?

It is weird to look back at what I used to think.  At each point in my past, I had dozens of thoughts about the future.  Most of those thoughts made were ridiculously off-base (like hoverboards), but looking back on it, I have traveled the road that I could have predicted. Past Carl would be pretty happy with my current job because, as a boy, I always wanted to work in a big city and wear a tie to work every day.  When I decided to pursue a teaching career, it was born from a desire to get better at something that was hard.  While I haven’t mastered it yet, I realize that I probably never will.  In reality, the opportunity to wake up each day and try something new only to go to bed each night thinking of tweaks that can still be made is a version of what I desired from this profession.

Of course all my predictions have not come true.  I didn’t predict I would still be teaching 5 years after getting an Administrators license.  After 10 years of teaching I predicted that I could confidently and effortlessly teach any topic to any student, or domesticated animal. It is kind of sad to look think about why you aren’t where you “should” be.  These things may just be part of larger stories that are playing out. The struggles with my career shortcomings may be valuable in what I learned.  My struggles with meeting girls in my teens (and Twenties) made me quicker to realize how that my girlfriend, now wife, is really special.  Perhaps these career struggles will make push me to fight harder for things looming in the future.

What is really important for where I am is closing doors on things that need to end.  I am glad to say that the time where I would not go to NCTM, not reach out to other math teachers, and otherwise hide in my classroom.  In fact, where I am now, I am disappointed that I am left alone to do what I please, as I instead wish for an environment where people are all collaboratively working together to grow and get better.  Right now, I am looking to quit a number of things that aren’t working to make me a better educator.  Hopefully this whittling down process will be the most important action I take today to get me to where I want to be tomorrow.


Random Grouping, Canadian Math Forums, and Perseverance – featuring @mathtans #MTBoS30

The following is a Global Math Department Newsletter write up.  This one didn’t get make the deadline for the newsletter because I sent it out late, but is a good read.

Perseverance is an important word this time of year, especially when classroom innovations that you began in September have come apart.  In “Grouping Tagline” Gregory Taylor (@mathtans) saw his experiment in visible random groupings come apart when he rolled it out in the fall, but he stuck with it as the new semester started and his perseverance paid off with a functional system for his classroom.  In visual random grouping students are encouraged to sit in random groupings as a way to facilitate the problem solving process as described in a presentation from the Canadian Mathematics Educator Forum last May by Peter Liljedahl (here’s the ppt from the presentation).  This meant putting students in random groups of 3 at the start of each period.
The Randomly Grouped Classroom

The Randomly Grouped Classroom

While he admits that his attempt at visual random groupings in the fall had “completely fell apart by November,” Gregory thoughtfully breaks down reasons why it didn’t work, and what changes he made when the semester started in February.   Initially the students were given random numbers every day, and this was problematic for a number of reasons.  What if a students needed to sit close to the board?  How do you get the numbers back to redistribute for the next class?  What happens when students get exhausted with all of the moving around?
After thinking about the failure from the fall Gergory came up with a new plan for success in the spring.  The students made individual name tags that were easy for them to find, and designated for Gregory which students needed to sit in the front.    Each class was different so there was no need to redistribute like there were with numbers, and by using this system every other day students don’t get exhausted.  This post was a great example of the kinds of perseverance required to find classroom with success with new innovations.

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