Carl's Teaching Blog

A place to talk about teaching and learning

Category: MetaBlog (Page 2 of 2)

Late to the Party – Kicking off the 2016 Blogging Initiaitve

I’m late to the party by a week for the 2016 blogging initiative, but here’s my post nonetheless. After looking at how my 2015 ended, it feels strange just sitting at my computer and writing once more. Participating in this will be a good chance for me to get back in touch with my forlorn teacher-blogger side, and pave the way for the different way in which I’ll have to write for 2016 and beyond.

Looking back at 2015

Just how did my 2015 end? Here’s an image from “Your site in 2015“, a colorful summary of my blog posts generated by WordPress. It shows a grid representing the days of the year and green squares to show that one or two posts were made on that day. Looking at it I immediately noticed and wondered a couple things.

Posting Patterns2

What I first noticed was that the left hand side of the grid has more green squares. It’s like looking down on earth from space and comparing an urban area and a desert. Well, the dearth of posts has a lot to do with what happened on two dates, whose squares are sloppily circled with Microsoft Paint. The first circle was May 31st the birth of my daughter, Julianne, and the second circle August 31st, my first day as an Assistant Principal. Both things require a great deal of effort, and mental energy, things that I also needed for blogging.

I still wondered about why I stopped blogging. On one hand, taking care of Julianne and learning a new job is time consuming, so I physically couldn’t write because I was doing other stuff. On the other hand, I wasn’t teaching math, and I wasn’t even a teacher, so even if I could write, I might not come up with relevant things to say. Technically I was teaching a computer science class, but it just wasn’t the same. (Starting in February I am going to be teaching a math class, which you’ll hear more about in upcoming blog posts!)

Blogging was important to me, and I did try to keep it up. Over the summer I did lot of personal with 750 words, and on another blog focused on developing systems. Despite all these efforts I haven’t been able to get into a regular system of writing, I still think I have some relevant things to say here, and I miss blogging and reading blogs. After thinking about it for perhaps a few more days than I should have, it seems like time I get back on the blog again.

Kicking Off the Blog

I, Carl Oliver, resolve to blog in 2016 in order to open my classroom (and office) up and share my thoughts with other teachers (and administrators). I hope to accomplish this goal by participating in the January Blogging Initiation hosted by Explore MTBoS.

You, too, could join in on this exciting adventure. All you have to do is dust off your blog and get ready for the first prompt to arrive January 10th! click here!

MTBoS Blogging Initiative

Planning For My Scariest August Yet

Unfortunately it’s August. August has always been the month that I have always associated with both vacation and work ever since I began my teaching career 10 years ago. It is the month where I curl into a fetal position on the ground while moaning with fear, anxiety, and overwhelmedness. (is it just ‘overwhelm’?) As this is first day of my 11th (!) professional August, the 2.033 Month birthday, and perhaps pay periods under the title of ‘Teacher’, I have a lot more to think about. I’m going to steer into the skid of August by making an action plan that will hopefully mean spending less time hugging my knees on the rug.

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9 reasons to get excited about #MTBoS30

Now that March Madness is over* I am more than excited to get into the April #MTBoS30 challenge.

Are you also late to the party, or sitting outside deciding if you want to jump in? Maybe a list of the 9 reasons that I am excited about a fresh 30 blog posts for this April/May.

1. The Memories

Last year I participated in an #MTBoS30 and really appreciate the fine-grained snapshot of my classroom at that time. In retrospect, looking at those posts were really interesting to see a clear picture of what happened in my classroom at that time.

2. The Reflection

It is also obvious that the act of writing forced me to do slightly more thinking about what I wanted to improve on in the classroom. It’s amazing what growth can come out of asking yourself “What about today is worth writing about?” for a month!

3. Don’t want to write after school? Write in the morning!

Morning writing is a regular practice among artists, writers, and other creative people too. WHy not apply the same approach to your work in the classroom. One approach you could take might be to write first thing in the morning. These “Morning Pages” are really popular among a number of creative people, as the act of writing early each day actually frees the mind for more creativity.

4. Write without fear

Throughout the 30 days of my writing there was always a warm reception for my posts. The blogosphere is a wonderful place to talk about teaching, and good ideas are always welcome. I personally feel more comfortable sharing my ideas online than I than with some of the teachers at my school.

5. Benefit from new ideas

As you talk through ideas with new people you may find times that people challenge your thinking. This can help you think about new ideas, or old ideas in new ways.

6. Share your ideas with others

The act of writing each of your posts is certainly valuable, but also valuable are the insights gained from reading and commenting on other people’s posts. Engaging with other posts are a good way to help people other people benefit from your experience and give you some inspiration on days where the words don’t come as quickly.

7. Do what you can, with what you have

If you’re still on the fence, perhaps you are worried about having enough ideas to make it the distance. In looking at my posts from last year I realize that I didn’t “get it done” each day and sometimes wrote two posts the next day. Some posts will be more detailed than others, and that’s ok.


Trying something new this year? WRITE ABOUT IT! Seeing an interesting trend of misconceptions while grading your last quiz? WRITE ABOUT IT! Funny anecdote when you were up at the board? WRITE ABOUT IT! Want to cheer on Duke in the final four? Not cool, too soon. Too soon.

9. Teachers have the best stories

Have you ever been at a party where you are talking about your day with some stranger and they are completely engrossed? That is because teaching involves so many truly human interactions that even mundane daily activity can sound like riveting drama compared to making TPS reports in a cubicle. Because of this, going in detail about an interaction is often a good idea for a post, even if it just another day on the job.

*March Madness is over whenever the Michigan State Spartans lose


Thanks MTBoS! For Helping Me Turn A Lesson I Was Scared Of Into One I Am Excited About!

So late last night was like most nights lately.  I needed to make a post and since I did not have a particularly witty story or an educational diatribe to roll in to, I really was just trying to keep the streak alive.  Since I had just finished looking at kids’ final projects, I noticed how all of them needed help doing or even attempting the “Generalizing Problems” worksheet.  That worksheet felt worse than anything I did all year.

So I wrote out a post late last night and placed the worksheet that so many students struggled with right in there.  Did I mention how bad I felt about this worksheet? Anyways, the next day I woke up a little more comfortable with the idea of having this thing that scared me out in public, so I asked for some ideas to improve it.

After this a torrent of ideas came my way about how to get students to write proofs, how “proof” should be thought about, and many other things I could do to improve this lesson for the next time I teach it.  I also tried to quietly back out of what seemed like a long standing argument about whether rectangles or triangles are better (it’s triangles, right?).

Either way, it made a day better that otherwise wouldn’t have been, and will hopefully make my students better mathematicians! Thanks #MTBoS! I will try to incorporate some of this into what I have going for the rest of the year, or I will do it the next time I teach the course, but I appreciate it all a great deal.   If I do I will post my new and improved materials here.  Hopefully, I can give back what I have gotten to other teachers on the blogosphere.   11/30 #MTBOS30


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