Nov 112014

On this bright,cheery Veteran’s day I took some time to clean up my reader, delete a bunch of feeds that I don’t read any more, organize the math teacher and other teacher feeds a bit and catch up on a couple of posts that I saved but didn’t have a chance to read yet. Be aware that the following is not a happy one, but a frustrated one. You can skip to the bottom to see the conclusion that is positive if you like.


—- Really, I am setting up an argument here in the beginning and middle, the end has a positive message. Totally okay if you skip the argument. —


What got me started writing was a statement by Dan Meyer that he followed Peg Cagle because, “she understands the concerns of Internet-enabled math teachers and she also understand the politics that concern the NCTM board of directors.” (via)

I read the link about “understanding concerns” which led me to think about the organizations I belong to and send money to each year. And let me be upfront about this. I am a member of the NCTM and have been continuously since I was in grad school getting my teaching credentials. I am actually subscribed to more than one journal, and have attended a national conference, a couple of regionals, and a couple of institutes. I have had district funding for some of this, but the majority have been paid for by me with my own money. I am critiquing the organization from the inside, not throwing bricks from the outside.

Okay, with that out of the way. I looked up the NCTM and found that they follow only 226 people / organizations. That’s it. Some of them are classroom teachers, but the teachers are vastly the minority. They follow mainly groups, college professors, and reporters.


But they are a large national organization. They can’t spend the time to read all the chatter from practicing math teachers. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. What about my local groups? Well the Northern NV Math Council does not even HAVE a Twitter presence. None. Scratch them off the list. Is it wrong that they don’t have a presence? No, that is their choice. I joined them in the past and suggested it. They refused because, “teachers don’t have the time for it.” Oh well.

What about the Southern NV Math Council? They do have a Twitter feed. They must follow lots of math teachers and spread the wonderfulness that is our math classrooms? No.


They follow 83 accounts, very few of which are math teachers. They have only 25 followers. I guess they are only slightly more engaged with the math teachers in Las Vegas than the NNMC is in Reno. But the state organization is doing better, right?


No. They follow 83 accounts as well, virtually none of which are actual math teachers. I guess NV is a write off as far as math teacher engagement. I posted this frustration on Twitter, and Lisa Henry shared her state organization.

ohiomath  and I looked up the CA Math Council camath

Seriously folks. If the NCTM is wondering why math teachers are leaving and thinking it is not relevant, these screenshots encapsulate it pretty easily. These are organizations that are pushing to us, but not engaging with us. I only looked at number accounts they followed. Look at their tweet counts. The Nevada Math Council has 36 tweets? The CA Math Council has 552? They have  100,000 math teachers in CA, the birthplace of Twitter and they have only tweeted 552 times? The NCTM has 27,000 followers and have tweeted only 4500 times? Most of which are plugging their upcoming conferences?

But I did say I would look at all the organizations of which I am a professional member. Here they are; the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and the American Statistical Association.



The NCSM even follows me!? They follow MORE people than the EVERY organization listed above COMBINED! Now we know that following someone does not mean engaging with someone, but it is certainly true that you cannot engage if you do not follow. The chance of the NCSM engaging with math teachers (and look at who they follow, there are many math teachers in the list) is much higher than the NCTM, Ohio NCTM, CA NCTM, and both NV NCTM groups.

The ASA? I joined them to get some additional AP Stats materials through their magazines. They are a specialty group, but they still do a better job than the state general organizations. The general organizations that should be closer to us as math teachers.


—- Okay ,the positive that exists after the complaining. —

What really makes this important to me is we are forming a State Chapter of the NCSM. I volunteered to be a member of the committee. I did that a week ago before I thought of doing this comparison, but now I am firmly on the side of participating strongly. NV needs an organization that will engage and lead math teachers. We certainly are not getting either from the NNMC, the NMC or the SNMC. We get ignored and told, but not engaged.

What is odd is the leadership of these groups ARE math teachers. The leaders are people I know (at least in the NNMC) and yet they do not engage? This is a frustrating situation. How many other teachers are frustrated with their local group too?

I am going to send this post to the organizer of the NCSM so she knows where I stand and what I feel the problems are in NV. It appears this is not a NV problem, but a nationwide problem. It is not a problem of “Math teachers don’t have the time” like I was told previously. It is a problem of organizations that are supposed to be leading us, instead are ignoring us.

The new NV Chapter of the NCSM really does need to be a leader. The National NCSM clearly is trying to have more of a leader role than the other groups. I need to do my part locally to make this happen here too.


As a counterpoint to my complaining, here is my profile and a couple random profiles. Ilana Horn is a professor of mathematics education (I recommend following her if you don’t.) Dave is a teacher of high school math as well. I just picked them randomly out of my feed. Teachers do have the time. In the vacuum of leadership, we are constructing meaning on our own and further marginalizing the institutions that created the vacuum.



May 232013

Tonight we had a discussion of “5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions” (B&N, Amazon) on Twitter, and I wanted to post the Storify here. One caveat, one of the members, MrHodotNet is protected so he didn’t show up in the timeline. I copied and pasted his contributions at the end, but they are not in order.


The link to the transcript is here.

The transcript can be read after the break.

Continue reading »

Jun 212012

I have said to many teachers that the best professional development I have engaged in is on Twitter. (I am @gwaddellnvhs by the way.)  One of the difficulties I have had using twitter, however is the storing of great ideas, great tweets, great links, and threads of conversations that I have had.

For instance, the bookclub I engage in regularly (current hashtag is #lit4math, focused on the book “Literacy strategies for improving mathematics instruction”) we have great discussions and sharing of ideas. And they are gone in the twitter stream almost instantly! ARG. That is the problem I have had other teachers tell me they run into, and therefore they don’t use twitter.

Or, I am at school, and see a great post that has a link from a person I generally want to follow up on, but although twitter is unblocked at school, the link shortener is blocked. Or I am on my phone, and want to quickly save a tweet, so I favorite it, and then have to go through and find the favorite tweets under my account, which is a hassle.

The Solution

Well, all these problems go away with a very easy to use service called If This, Then That or This service does exactly what the name sounds like (well, if you have taken a computer programming class you understand what it does.) It monitors your account, and when it sees a pre-programmed trigger, the “IF”, “THEN” it does “THAT”.

How I use it, IF it sees that I favorite a tweet in twitter, it then appends the tweet into my Evernote account.  It takes a minute or two to show up, but it has not failed yet.

I also have it searching twitter for the hashtag #lit4math, and it appends all tweets with that hashtag into a note in Evernote.  Sweet! I don’t have to try to copy manually the conversations any more. The only drawback to this method is twitter will not allow locked users tweets to show up in a search stream. Therefore, users who are part of the conversation who are locked won’t show up. That is unfortunate, but true of all methods of archiving tweets I have used.

I also have a recipe (what calls their programs) running that appends any tweet made to me into an Evernote note. It makes sure I don’t miss something that was sent directly to me.

I am very pleased with this set up. It has truly streamlined and made my use of Twitter easier and more efficient. Check out It is free, and very worth your time.