Stolen Pedagogy

Today marks my 6th Blogiversary. I started this thing documenting my daughter’s elementary years. These days, she’s concerned with AP Calc more than book reports. And I’m concerned with #globalmath more than her book reports. Ah, how times change.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that I’m still stealing your ideas. My classroom is a combination of all YOUR classrooms. I’ve taken your best ideas for several years now and shared mine (apparently Waterfall Trivia is still popular in some circles — you’re welcome!). That’s what we do in the best blogotwittosphere on Earth, right?

In the name of sharing my classroom with you guys, here are my top ideas taken from your blogs and your tweets.

Mailing Label Problems

Fawn Nguyen (@fawnpnguyen) shared this photo of her puppy’s craftsmanship and I thought I was going to cry. Why was her loss of a box of Avery Mailing Labels so painful? The idea I stole from her was to put problems (or problem sets) on mailing labels. Fawn’s been using the labels to support her Standards Based Grading implementation:

this year I found the best use for the mailing labels with SBG. School is in full swing now and there are a lot of kids coming in at lunch time for retakes. Currently, and because this is our first year with SBG, we can only manage to assign selected questions from the textbook for reassessments. I either have to tell them what the problems are when they come in or give them a piece of paper that has the problems on it, then they have to copy all this information on notebook paper: section title, page number(s), and which exercises. Without this information, I can’t correct their papers.

I’m using her “old” idea to put problems on the labels. I give my kids a batch of 6 label problems, convenient because there are 30 on a sheet, for them to solve in their interactive notebooks.

Self-Feedbacked Quizzes

Frank Noschese posted a simple photo titled Quiz Day with some arrows drawn on it. Holy cow did that picture ever change my assessing life. Here are Frank’s words:

I set up stations with the answer key and orange pens on the counter around the room. When students were finished with the quiz, they brought their quiz to a station to check their work against the key and use the orange pens to leave themselves feedback directly on the quiz. Then they handed the quiz in to me. What I like about this: students give themselves the feedback they need and I get to see what that feedback looks like.

I still review everything on these quizzes, so it’s not proven a time-saver. Maybe I save a little time because I’m not hunting down the mistake a kid made in a long solution (and yeah, I’m a little in love with a circled term and the words “forgot to square distance”, cause dang! those can be hard to spot).

Whiteboard Groupings

Bowman’s idea to use stickies on whiteboards for class groupings makes the warmup time that much more efficient.  I love the way the kids just know what to do when they walk in the room.

The Mistake Game

Before I ever talked with Bowman about whiteboards, Kelly taught me this whiteboarding game over at Physics! Blog!. Give kids a set of problems and time to work them. Then assign a problem to each group to post on the whiteboard. The catch: they have to hide a mistake that’s crucial to solving the problem. Their classmates later listen to the presentation and question their way to the mistake.

In my classes, we’re still improving our mistake-hiding and finding techniques.

Row Games

This is a great activity for the math teachers in the crowd and I used it a lot in my previous life as a math teacher.

Kate taught me about Row Games, where two people work two different problems (on a row) that have the same answer. I love me some self-checking work where kids cooperate rather than compete and boy howdy! is this ever one of them.

Now, Show Me Yours

Throw ’em in the comments or (better!) share them at the next #globalmath My Favorite session. Shoot, the idea you share doesn’t even have to be yours so long as you attribute it.

Thanks, peeps, for listening, for stealing, for sharing. About our community, I like to say “We want to be better teachers. We share freely. We are always supportive.”

Best Open Conference: Twitter Math Camp

(Am I supposed to use some kind of formal language to nominate? Do Robert’s Rules apply here? Better play it safe…)

Hear ye, hear ye! I hereby heretofore nominate Twitter Math Camp as the Best Open Conference of 2012 in the Edublog Awards.

After all, Twitter Math Camp not only had its own hashtag, #TMC12 but also inspired #twitterjealousycamp by those who weren’t with us.

Twitter Math Camp consisted of a scrappy group of 40 math teachers from across the Americas. We gathered together in a geographically favorable city (St. Louis, baby!) for three-and-a-half amazing days of learning. That’s us, below.

[ED – Lisa reminds me about press for TMC] This amazing conference attracted accolades including Ed Tech Researcher Blog calling us the “Best Twitterblogosphere” and then following up with a post about Twitter Math Camp’s powerful model of teacher-led PD.

twitter math camp group photo

When most of your Twitter feed is with you, checking Twitter becomes an almost empty action.

Many of us blogged about #TMC12 on returning home. Our words in the days following St. Louis speak volumes.

Julie Reulbach said:

When trying to explain this conference to my non-teaching friends, I tell them. ”Think about the best teachers that you ever had. Put them all in one room. Ask them to all tell you their best ideas and strategies. Listen in awe. Take tons of notes. Learn from the best.”

We invented a new type of session, called “My Favorite…”. I think the attendees would vote Elissa Miller’s idea about Two Nice Things as the best tip of these sessions. Of the My Favorite format, she says:

Best session idea goes to … My Favorites because I’m pretty sure we could have an entire conference based on that alone and I felt like it was blog reading come to life like a book of pop up bloggers except real.

Sam Shah mused about the ideas we shared:

Whether it be how to get cheap giant whiteboards and use them effectively in the classroom, to saying “What questions do you have?” instead of “Any questions?”, to being consistent in asking a kid who says something disparaging to someone else say “two nice things about them… go!”

Lisa Henry (the primary organizer) called Twitter Math Camp the “Best PD Ever!“:

3 ½ days of working on Exeter Math Problem Sets and sharing with each other. (Here’s the program) We had incredible presentations on a variety of topics. We shared many of our favorite teaching related things – so much so that we adjusted the schedule and scrapped the problem working session on Sunday morning for an hour and a half of additional my favorite things to share.

WordPress app for Facebook

Let’s say you have a blog you want students to read. How do you get them there? Show them RSS readers and encourage them to subscribe? Hope they remember to visit the website regularly? Or, do you put the blog posts in a place where they visit already, say Facebook? I just discovered how to do that last item.

I can now pull my blog posts into my Facebook account. Check out the announcement at Your WordPress Is In My Facebook. I like it because I now automatically “advertise” new blog posts in my Facebook mini-feed.

Get the app here: Facebook App

My Facebook account is mostly about connecting with my students and I don’t currently blog with any of my classes. That means I have to imagine the power of linking a class blog to my Facebook. The students are already in Facebook (as opposed, say, to reading RSS or checking the blog directly), so they’d see posts without changing their routine.

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Social Networking in Paperworks

Lee LeFever over at CommonCraft has produced another great “in plain English” video: social networking. I always enjoy these videos because they distill a huge, confusing topic into easily understood ideas.

LeFever has produced several videos using this format, which he calls Paperworks. Apparently a lot of folks have asked him about the limitations of this format — about the constraints. He explains:

The lesson is that constraints work to limit the number and depth of decisions we have to make. By eliminating the decisions about technology, presentation, music, etc. we have time to focus on the core of what makes Paperworks work: the ideas.

I think that’s a great lesson I can teach students.