In my Feedly this morning popped up the article by Larry Ferlazzo called, “Disappointing NY Times Article On Teachers & ‘A Sharing Economy’.” Okay, let me be more blunt. I am not disappointed in the NYT, I am frustrated and a little ticked off. It stems from this article in the NYT: A Sharing Economy where Teachers Win by Natasha Singer.
Read the article. I call foul AND shenanigans. How much did TeachersPayTeachers pay for this fluff piece that was nothing more than an advertisement for teachers selling out other teachers.
Maybe it is because I am active and love the #MTBoS (that is the MathTwitterBlogo’Sphere, if you are not familiar with it.) I embrace the sharing, the collaboration and the freely giving of resources that the math teachers do on Twitter, their blogs and the internet in general.
The article should have been titled, “A sharing economy where teachers win, but collaboration dies.” Sure, some teacher just made $1000 by selling her lesson plans to a 1000 different teachers for a buck. She won, but collaboration died. Is she seeking feedback from people who have used her lessons? Is she improving them by discussing and talking about how others have used them? Probably not. It is in a store, and people are buying it. There is no reason or need to improve it.
Meanwhile, in the #MTBoS, teachers are making, sharing, improving and resharing lessons all the time. They are coming together to make better lessons. And then, they talk about these lessons, which spawn more, better lessons. This is a collaborative community where ALL teachers win, and more importantly, our learners win. And our learners continue to win. Over and over again.
Seriously, look at the amount of resources freely created and given away.
First up, websites created by teachers collaborating:
- Let’s start with the MTBoS Directory. No one claims this is an exhaustive list. It requires teachers to add their names to it, but there are currently 344 teachers in the list, all with an online presence, and all sharing things.
- Nixthetricks.com – created by Tina Cardone and teachers all over the #MTBoS who contributed tricks. You can download the most excellent book for free.
- Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns and Math Talks. Both are excellent sites. I have used the Visual Patterns site frequently in my high school classroom, and am working on learning more about Math Talks and implementing them in the college classroom where I am now.
- Would you Rather Math is a site I used regularly in my teaching as well. Great questions, created by and curated by John Stevens.
- Michael Pershan’s Math Mistakes. See an interesting math mistake? Submit it to this site and have a discussion on the thinking the learner made while making the mistake. We can learn more from mistakes than we can from correct work.
- Dan Meyer’s Google spreadsheet of 3 Acts lessons. More on this to come. I am working on an idea taking shape out of my current position as a Master Teacher with a UTeach model school.
- Mary Bourassa’s Which One Doesn’t Belong. So Mary saw Christopher Danielson’s great shapes idea, and realized that there was some amazing math thinking that could be done. BOOM, another collaborative website created.
- Open Middle Dan Meyer introduced the idea, Nanette Johnson, Robert Kaplinsky and Bryan Anderson ran with and created the platform.
- Desmos Activity Bank A site created by Jed Butler out of the need to share Desmos files, first showed at TMC15 at Harvey Mudd College.
- MTBoS Activity Bank created by John Stevens (second time his name is on the list) to collect and curate some of the awesome materials created. Anyone can submit their own, and searching is easy.
- The MTBoS Blog Search also created by John Stevens (I don’t think he sleeps). This site allows you search the blogs of a long list of math teachers for lessons, content, whatever you are looking for.
- Robert Kaplinsky has a Problem Based Search Engine, to find those specialized lessons that are, you guessed it, problem based!
- The Welcome to the MathTwitterBlogoSphere website has a further collection of collaborative efforts that includes some of the above but is even larger.
But that isn’t even all of it. There are teachers who are collecting curriculum, links or materials and sharing it all back out; lock, stock and barrel. These teachers have “Virtual Filing Cabinets” full of lessons that have been tried and tested, re-written and shared back out. Some call their pages VFC’s, some are just curated sites of materials.
- Sam Shah’s VFC
- Nathan Kraft’s VFC
- Jim Doherty’s VFC
- Timon Piccini’s VFC
- Bowman Dickson’s VFC
- Kristin Fouss’s Diigo links
- Wendy Menard’s VFC
- Chris Hunter’s VFC
- Lisa Bejarano’s VFC of Warm Up Activities
- Tina Cardone’s Matheme page
- Bob Lochel’s MathCoachBlog
- Michael Fenton’s Lesson Page is amazing
- Meg Craig’s site has 3 different classes of materials.
- An amazing Box.net folder of “Row Games” created originally by Kate Nowak.
- Glenn Waddell’s Desmos and Exeter materials (see tabs above, this site)
- and so many more!
And then there are great organizations giving away curriculum:
- Illustrative Mathematics, free ever-more-complete curriculum that is CCSS aligned and incredibly high quality.
- Shells Center/Mathematics Assessment Project, good as lessons, problems or assessments. I forget about this site until I am desperate, and then kick myself because it is just so good and thorough.
- Mathalicious has free lessons and paid lessons. I have used them in class. They are worth paying for!
- Igor Kokcharov has an international effort in APlusClick. Lots of great problems and lessons.
And this list is FAR from complete. It is what I pulled together in 15 minutes of thought. And this list does not even begin to talk about the 180 blogs
So, NY Times and Natasha Singer. You blew it. You didn’t show teachers winning, you showed teachers selling out. If you want to see winning teachers, click on any link above and read their sites.
The above are all winning teachers. TeachersPayTeachers is an example of teachers losing out on this kind of collaboration.