Aug 242016
 

#BlAugust is going strong so far. I am digging the morning writing for sure.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

Yesterday I was taking a moment after work to look at my Twitter feed and I saw this hashtag #ObserveMe with a picture of a sign outside a classroom. It was this pic.  (you can click on any picture to make embiggen them if you want to see the details.)

observeme pic 1

I know it was this picture, because it is without a number in my folder. I got excited! How powerful is this one simple sign. It tells every person walking in the room that you WANT their feedback. You want them to come into your room. You want them to talk to learners, to watch their interaction, and to give you feedback.

How amazingly powerful.

I followed the hashtag, and found out it was started by Robert Kaplinsky. I am not surprised. It is a powerful statement of changing classroom culture.  Here are some more examples I thought were just amazing.

ObserveMe 3  ObserveMe 5  ObserveMe 7

Notice the statement of what classes are taught when. That way any teacher can chose what topic to watch, or they know what topic to expect as they walk in. I also love the QR code connected to a google form. I scanned them. They work. Finally, the third picture has both a QR code for electronic data collection as well as the forms right there next to the code for ease of use. There is no excuse not to give feedback in Ms. Rani’s classroom.

But how does this change culture?

You cannot be a teacher who shuts their door and ignores the world with this hanging outside your room. You are inviting the world in.

But you are not just inviting the world in, you are asking the world to look for specific things; questioning techniques, understanding, engagement, interaction, problem solving, and ‘teacher as facilitator’ are all things mentioned.

You are asking the world to talk to your learners. You are asking the world to thoughtfully think about the classroom environment, and to evaluate what is going on in your classroom.

How powerful.

But, flip this around. What does it tell the LEARNERS who are passing this sign on the way into your room?

The learners know that at anytime, anyone could be walking in to look for these things. It tells the learners that these are activities or behaviors that you think are important. It tells the learners that you value being a “facilitator” not a “lecturer” and that you are holding yourself accountable for those values. (Yes, Ms. Garner I am calling you out on that because I love it so much.)

We also should not be stagnant on what we look for. As the semester continues, the ‘look fors’ must change and adapt as well. The #ObserveMe flyer in the window below makes that explicit.

ObserveMe 6  ObserveMe 4

Okay, I am in love with this idea and am sharing it widely.

BUT, how can I apply this to my work at the University?

If I just talk about it in class, then who cares. With that in mind, I have put together draft 1 of my sign.

ObserveMeUNR

It will definitely get the QR code treatment. I will have to remember to put it up and take it down every class. Wouldn’t that really freak out some professor who didn’t see it there and someone walks into their room to observe them.

I also have two other Master Teachers in the program to sell in the idea who will be in the room with me. I don’t mind throwing myself under the bus, but I won’t throw them without their permission.

I just figure, if I am going to talk about this at the University level to my preservice teachers, I better be willing to walk the walk if I am going to talk the talk.

What do you think? Are my goals reasonable?

Aug 232016
 

#BlAugust Continues with my Knowing and Learning posts

MTBOSBlaugust2016

I was sitting down this morning at 7:30 to do today’s post, and I was stymied. What to write, what to write? So I opened Twitter for inspiration and Christopher Danielson had re-tweeted this:

 

Okay, it is on. I read the article (found here) and immediately thought of my Knowing and Learning readings (week 4) on B.F. Skinner and his “Teaching Machines.”

If you need a refresher on Skinner’s ideas, you can read the book in it’s entirety (please don’t, gag) or you can just read this one picture that sums up the entire chapter in a gut wrenching caption.

teaching machines by skinner

That’s right! There is your video that Sen. Ron Johnson referred to! You see, this isn’t a new idea to replace teachers with that “one good teacher” and have the learners then rewind and redo the material until they get it right.

On the Nature v. Nuture discussion, Skinner falls on the nurture side, but it is a nurture grounded firmly in behaviorism. While educators of the constructivist philosophy threw up a little in their mouths upon reading the words of Mr. Johnson, the behaviorists celebrated. They have been saying this since 1957, and the philosophical underpinnings of the approach are as solid as Piaget or Pappert.

We can see this thread of education going strong in Mr. Johnson’s remarks, but also in the gobs of money thrown at Kahn Academy. His original, poorly done, math videos were celebrated as the pinnacle of education. Well, the pinnacle of behaviorist teaching machines, at least. “Look, when the learner doesn’t understand something, the response is not correct, and they can just work around the disk again, er, I mean, they can rewind the video.”

I think it is very important for teachers to come out of college knowing that these statements by people like Mr. Johnson, and movements like Kahn’s have a history. A history of failure, but also of enough success that they just won’t die.

And there is a time and place for behaviorism in teaching math. But the extremes that Skinner, Kahn, Mr. Johnson, and others take it to is ridiculous.

 

[And, as an aside, yes. these are my opinions. This blog has my name in the URL, and I am unabashedly a constructivist teacher. This wasn’t always true, but I learned better.]

Aug 222016
 

A late in the day #BlAugust post.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

Yesterday Jennifer tweeted this at me, and I teared up a little.

And the tweet it refers to is this one:

You see, the High Fives post is one of the most popular posts I have ever written. It was a spur of the moment, almost didn’t do it speech (kind of like the TMC16 speech on overcoming your fears) that has resonated through so many people.

For a long time, I kept track of the people tweeting and blogging about High Fives. I know I missed some. I counted over 20 different individual who tried the High Fiving, and said it changed their classroom culture for the better.

Jennifer tweeted and wrote about it a full year! after I wrote about it. How often does that happen? To me at least, not very often.

To say I am embarrassed and honored by the mentions is an understatement.

To say I am overjoyed by the fact that learners in over 20 classrooms are experiencing something different because I spoke up is exciting and amazing. We need to spread the high five energy.

So, to help more teachers and to spread the power of the high five, I wanted to revisit the video:

My original post: http://blog.mrwaddell.net/archives/1431. The video is short, only 4 minutes. In fact the last 20 seconds can be ignored as it was an announcement for the conference.

You are doing something awesome. You are walking in my classroom. Be awesome. Connect with your learners. Give them energy, and receive the energy in return.

High five to you all!


Edits added:

After I posted this article Lisa Henry posts about All The Stuff I’ve Stolen From The MTBoS. High Fives are the first thing on her list, and she explains why in a different post.

 

Aug 182016
 

Continuing on the #BlAugust train! Yay.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

To help set the stage for the Big Questions of Knowing and Learning, I will be using the results from this survey. I asked on Twitter for teachers to take it, and it will be required for my learners to take it. (Same questions, but a different set of instructions and explanations on the prompts.)

I will take the results from this survey to juxtapose their responses so we can evaluate what it means to Know, to Learn, and to Believe.

For example, looking at the teacher responses from Twitter, we can see that the teachers mostly all agreed that “Nurture” had the largest impact on ACT, SAT, and AP Scores. Notice, however, the difference between asking about “Success in AP Calculus” and “Success in Science”.

calc  science

Notice all the “3” responses in Science? Those responses are interesting. For whatever reason, the exact same teachers who responded to this survey thought that “Nuture” is more responsible for success in AP Calc than it is for Success in Science. Or, rather, there were more teachers who weren’t sure if “Nuture” was as responsible as “Nature” so they selected a neutral response.

That is interesting. That brings up the immediate question of Why?

Juxtaposing these type of responses on the first day with college learners will give even more variety of responses (at least I hope the responses are varied.)

Also, look at the responses to these questions.

theory

It makes sense that teachers would be almost identical in responses to these two questions, but I am hoping for a more varied response to the question from college students.

Using their own responses will be a common theme in the course. Each day they will have to enter their reading responses into a google form. This allows me to read their responses quickly, sort and categorize them, and then select items for discussion in class that afternoon.

In addition, I will be using the Annenberg Learner video called “A Private Universe”.  If you have not seen the first video on the page, do so. The video is dated (1980’s) but it is well worth the 20 minutes.

The video starts with the interviewer asking questions at a Harvard graduation about why there are seasons, and then moves into the classroom to uncover learner’s misconceptions.

This is a wonderful video to show my learners how even though teachers may think they have taught something, the learners don’t know correct things or didn’t learn correct things from the teaching.

How do we Know? How do we Learn? [which ends up at How do we Teach?]

The main projects  in the class are two Clinical Interviews, and a deeply, well thought out lesson plan.

Along the way, we dive into the different theories of knowing and learning, so the learners can select one for their own lesson plan and utilize it well.

So, the first day will involve discussion about their own ideas, discussion comparing them (novices) to experts (teachers), interviewing clinically (A Private Universe), and a closure with ….

….

Not sure.

I have not done closures on this type of material before.

A simple written reflection seems too … blase? standard? uninspired? Yes. Uninspired.

I need to think deeply about closures, next.

 

Aug 172016
 

Another #BlAugust post. Staying strong on building the habit of writing in the morning.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

I finished my syllabus for Knowing and Learning. I have all the questions written for each reading section (a huge thanks goes out to Walter Stroup at UT Austin for his course site that has his questions on the readings).

The only thing left are the daily activities, and I don’t feel the pressure to have those 100% nailed down for the entire semester before it starts. I would like to, but I won’t.

Here is how I envision the semester.

  1. I will use the Canvas course site from the University to host all of the readings. There are 69 readings on the syllabus right now, all PDF files.
  2. I will create (as in I have not done this yet) a google form for each day, and each form will have the questions for each set of readings. The form will be linked to from the course site. This way, I can receive the comments, answers, and thoughts of the learners in the class before the class is held. I can then use some quotes and response trends to spark and drive the conversation in class.
  3. Each class period will have 5 points associated with it. Submitting the responses and participating in class is how the 5 points will be earned.
  4. Each class will have both small and whole group discussion as we build the knowledge of the different theories of knowing and learning.

What I still need to do:

  1. Build activities that will cement the understanding of the readings and make the theories more understandable.
  2. Figure out a strong way to close the lessons each day. Closure is an essential element of good teaching, and I am not confident I have thought about closure yet.
  3. Re-read each article deeply before each class so I am ready to guide the conversation. This is an ongoing issue, but it is one that must occur!

If you want to take a look at my syllabus, please feel free. The file is: NVTC 201MW Syllabus. The only thing I don’t have in the syllabus is the citations for the different readings. I have them all in PDF form, but have not gone through and cited them yet. YET. I guess that is something to add to the list above.

Any feedback? Am I missing a pivotal reading in the Theory of Ed? Do you have a favorite that is better than one I selected?

Thank you for any thoughts!

Aug 162016
 

I took yesterday off of blogging because of being overwhelmed with todo lists for work. Fixed that. Yay! So, another #BlAugust post for me.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

OMG! I also earned a “Star of the Week” from Meg Craig for this post! Wow. That is an honor coming from her. She also made a shortlink for the page: bit.ly/mtbosresources. I guess I better keep it updated!

 

Stars of The Week

Okay, on to the post.

I attended a board meeting of the local math group last night. Some of the most amazing educators in my region (not just my county), and it is a pleasure to work with all of them again. I am on the board as the Higher Ed Representative, which is a good fit.

During the course of the meeting, a call was put out by a member for resources, activities, and other things for the newsletter. Of course, I volunteered a list of 5 or so things off the top of my head from the MTBoS. There was concern about the amount of time it would take to “find” these resources, so I volunteered fix that.

This collection of #MTBoS resources is here so I can find it easily in the future and to provide a page where other teachers can be directed.

First off, what is the #MTBoS? The hashtag stands for Math Twitter Blog o’Sphere. Dan Meyer has an interesting take on the MTBoS.

Sites that are ‘organizational’ in nature:

These sites try to organize or provide structure to the #MTBoS in some way.

Exploring the MTBoS: A site created by math teachers to help organize, explain, and yes, explore the MTBoS.

Welcome to the MTBoS: A site created to welcome teachers new to the MTBoS. It gives them support, some guidance, as well as helps them find some good tweeps (Twitter peeps) to follow and get to know.

A dedicated MTBoS search engine: Have you ever wanted a lesson on XXX, but googled it and came up with a bunch of crap? This search engine searches only math teacher blogs, K-12, and will pull up lessons that are tried and tested. If the lesson sucked, the blog post will tell you that, and how to improve it.

TwitterMathCamp: An annual conference that meets in July to connect teachers. It is PD for teachers, by teachers. It also has an archive of blog posts from every year. In addition there is a wiki of sessions, My Favorites, and Keynotes.

The MTBoS Directory: This site lists teachers who are self-identified as members of the #MTBoS. Want to join? Just submit your name. That is all it takes. It has a map of members to help you find local math teachers, as well as multiple ways to sort and select people.

The hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter: Ask a question relating to math or math teaching using the hashtag, you will get an answer.

A Facebook MTBoS group: Another way to connect with math educators

A Padlet of “High Fives” for others in the #MTBoS created by Sam Shah. He is amazing. The “High Five” is relevant because of the speech I gave at TMC15.

A Chat list of Educational Chats: They list themselves as “official” but of course there is no such thing. It is rather comprehensive, and although the chats change times each year, it is pretty complete and accurate.

A MTBoS LiveBinder: This binder collects and organizes resources for the MTBoS. There are a lot of different links in this binder.

Resources / Activities created by the MTBoS (many are crowd sourced, submit your questions too!)

  • Global Math Department: Every Tuesday evening, a presentation by a different math educator on a relevant topic.
  • Daily Desmos: Different Demos challenges every day. 6-12
  • teacher.desmos.com: Yes, Desmos is a company, not a person. However, they are an active member of the MTBoS!
  • Estimation 180: Andrew Stadel’s site with different estimation challenges for each day of the year. K-12
  • Visual Patterns: Fawn Nguyen’s site with different visual patterns, challenging learners to create the equation / expression for it. K-12
  • Math Talks: Fawn Nguyen also curates this site which prompts to get your learners talking math. K-12
  • Which One Doesn’t Belong: Mary Bourassa’s site that poses the age old question. K-12
  • Math Munch: Justin Lanier’s site that has lots of fun, engaging lessons. K-12
  • Would You Rather? John Stevens asks the simple question, would you rather have this, or that? Justify with math. 6-12
  • Fraction Talks: A great visual way to get learners talking about fractions. K-12
  • Collaborative Mathematics: Poses questions to get learners engaged with each other about math. K-12
  • Open Middle: Robert Kaplinksy created this site to collect open middle questions. K-12
  • Math Mistakes: Michael Pershan is fascinated by what teachers can learn by looking at mistakes. K-12
  • Talking Math with your Kids: Christopher Danielson’s passion for doing math with little ones is celebrated. K-6
  • Math Arguments: The Math Curmudgeon curates problems to create math arguments in your classroom. 7-12

Teacher resources (not for learners necessarily)

And this is before we get into lessons from:

Bit.ly links created to archive and store awesome lessons.

  • bit.ly/desmosbank – Managed by Jedidiah Butler, a way to store all the awesome things created by teachers around the world with Desmos. Add yours too!
  • bit.ly/cardsortbank – Created at the Descon16 by Julie Reulbach to keep track of the amazing Card Sorts her group was creating. Add yours too!
  • bit.ly/mtbosresources (this page so I don’t forget it!)

These are just a few of my favorites.  For more activities, teacher created materials, sites, and just all around engaging stuff go to the Welcome to the MTBoS site. http://mathtwitterblogosphere.weebly.com/cool-things-weve-done-together.html

I hope this helps. Now that I have it typed up, I am passing it along to teachers in my region for sharing as well.

Have a wonderful day!

Edited: 17 Aug 2016

Edited 22 Aug 2016

Aug 122016
 

Another #BlAugust post, but this is an fired up post.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

I was going to blog about my Knowing and Learning preparation today, but a comment from a college learner in my program made me more and more upset as I thought about it.

The learner (I redacted the name to protect them) said,

“I was just discussing this with another educator. He is an elementary school teacher in his third year of teaching. I’ve been buzzing a lot about how I am going to be an innovator in the classroom rather than passively following orders even if I disagree with the resulting pedagogical approaches. This educator essentially told me to “protect” myself by doing what I’m told.” (emphasis added)

Stop and think about that bolded sentence a moment. That means this three year veteran of the school district feels that he must protect his job by just following orders, regardless of what is best for the learners or learning. The teacher asked a follow up question,

“And when the parents complain? When administration comes after you? What then?”

The district here in my city is incredibly supportive. It is focused on learning, engagement, and encouraging teachers to take some risks and try to push boundaries in the best interest of the children.  Yes, I have heard that at the elementary level the curriculum is more scripted, and yes, I have heard that there are schools where the principals can be assertive in making demands of the teachers.

BUT, to instill this kind of fear in a still new teacher (he has only taught 3 years, he is still at the beginning of his career!)

I am stunned.

I am really … stunned. That is the only word I can come up with. Because this teacher that teaches in fear is passing that fear onto substitutes (my learner is a sub in the district), and that fear will be passed onto pre-service and future beginning teachers.

I call foul.

What have we, as educators, done to allow this fear to foster and fester?

What, as educators, are we doing to push back against the fear?

What, as educators, are we doing to take back ownership of our profession so that we can teach with positivity?

keep-calm-and-change-the-world-72

Teaching is a political act. We need to recognize this fact. We need to act accordingly and not allow others who are not educators to define our classrooms and our teaching.

I am fired up over this, which is a great place to be at the beginning of the school year.

Want to know what my learner said?

I didn’t want to answer instantaneously because the topic deserves so much more thought than I can possibly perform in but a moment, so I responded by saying, “I may not have the answer or strategy now, but that’s why I’m in school. That’s what I’m actively working towards figuring out.”

Freaking awesome.

One challenge I have now is to make sure this future teacher, and EVERY future teacher, leaves the program with the skills and answers to this question.

Fired. Up.

 

Aug 112016
 

#BlAugust Continues strong! Creating a habit of writing is something I need to work on both professionally and personally, so this challenge is definitely useful to me. Thank you Shelli!

MTBOSBlaugust2016

Wow, I have earned my second Star of the Week from Meg Craig! Awesome!

Stars of The Week

As I was getting ready this morning, I had a thought. (Hey, you. In the peanut gallery, pipe down. 🙂 )

Yes, I had a thought. I realized that over the last 4 weeks, I had not once asked myself the question of whether I am the “right person for the job” when it comes to building the Knowing and Learning course.

Not once.

I was presented with the challenge, I said yes, and I just went to work on it. No questions asked.

It is a huge amount of work. I have 30 books checked out of the library, and I have a folder with around 70 articles in it right now. I have read them all, and have re-read them as I am building daily questions, and working on how the structure and flow of the class.

But not once have I sat there wondering “are they crazy for asking me to do this?”

I asked myself that a lot when I was in business. I asked, “Am I the right person for this? Am I capable?”

That impostor syndrome is so deadly. I have asked myself that a couple of time times as I have been working on the PhD. I got over it quickly, but I still wondered.

Not once about this.

And I realized something. It is because I love this. I love the philosophy and the thinking. I love the teaching and the maths. I am doing something I love.

Thanks Christopher. You were absolutely right.

Every day when I pick up my phone, his words ring through to me.

2015-09-30 13.08.00

Find what you love. Do more of it.* He said “that” but I was character limited, so I shortened it to “it.”

A daily reminder. Do more.

When you are doing what you love, you KNOW you are the right person. You may not always know how to accomplish the goals, you may not know everything you need to know, but you know that you are the person to learn those things and do those things you need.

No question about it.

This was a great thought to have today. It is my 47th birthday.

 


*If you want to watch the video of his speech at TMC15, the video is available on Youtube. It is in two parts, “Math from the Heart.”

Aug 102016
 

Another #BlAugust post! Doing great and creating habits here.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

This morning I was walking to the the office across campus, I saw a person standing outside a building looking around. He looked kind of lost, which is not unusual on campus this time of year, so I asked if I could help him. He was looking for the science building, so we started across campus.

Now, it used to be that I would have just showed him where he wanted to go and said goodbye, BUT, I am working hard at being more outgoing.

So, after a moment of hesitation, I reached out and said, “Hi, I’m Glenn Waddell” and offered my hand. He said “Hi, my name is xxxx xxxx” and offered his, and told me he just dropped off his daughter for the R.A. training.

Bells went off in my head, because the last name was kind of unusual, so I asked if his daughter was yyyy xxxx?

Sure enough, it was. His daughter is a sophomore participant in NevadaTeach!

So, because I was willing to shake his hand and introduce myself, I had the privilege of walking across campus with the wonderfully nice person, telling him how much I loved his daughter, and telling him a little more about the program.

You know what. We just cemented a relationship that will last. On a university campus, he randomly bumped into someone who not only knew who is daughter is, but knew her enough to say nice things about her and give him a mini tour of the campus. That is the kind of outreach that will last a long time.

I hope I made that persons day. I hope he drives home thinking about what a wonderful place UNR is, and how supportive NevadaTeach is.

And I learned that shaking a hand and making introductions isn’t that hard (although I know it, and I do it, and I still hesitate so often) and it pays off tremendously.

I made someone smile and feel good today before 9am.

My day is complete.

Now, get back to work, Waddell!

Aug 092016
 

I missed two days of #BlAugust, but I don’t feel bad. I took Sunday off on purpose, and was so frustrated with how my course planning was going I spent until 6:15pm at my office working on it last night. Grrr. But I made some strong headway.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

I sat down yesterday with Walter Stroup’s (University of Texas, Austin) plan for Knowing and Learning, my plan (which is based on his plan), the readings in order in my directory, the questions I had identified from the readings as important, the calendar of courses with the readings listed, and ….

Oh what fresh hell is this.

So many important pieces of information, all in different tabs, different files, different folders. I seriously sat there after and hour and asked myself why I was making it so complicated.

Einstein - make it simple no simpler

I was NOT making it simple. I was making it far more complicated than it needed to be.

So I sat at the computer, with my two different Word planning docs, two different tabs open, two different folders of files, and collapsed it all into ONE document and ONE folder.

Now, this is what my planning document looks like.

Capture

1b is the second meeting in week 1, (1a is the first meeting in week 1), the topic of the class, the questions the learners will respond to, and the readings are all listed.

In my folder, the names are 1b Lehman Behind the SAT and 1b Atkinson Reflections on admissions tests.

Next up, these questions will be put into a google form, and each class day will have a google form that must be responded to prior to class (I am making the deadline by 12am the night before). This will allow me to read the responses all together in one document so I can get a gauge of the variety of thought before class.

It will also allow me to pull quotes for class for discussion, elaboration, and development of the ideas without putting a name to the quote. I can also change some words so the learner does not recognize their own words, that way they don’t say “Hey that is me.”

At this point, I have almost every single day blocked out like this. There are 6 days I am diverging form Stroup’s plan pretty solidly this first year. I have to go through those readings, and reduce the number. One day, right now, I have 9 different articles listed. LOL. No way that will be able to happen.

Keep it simple, but no simpler. I lost sight of this as I was thinking about calendars, readings, questions, progression, and development of ideas.

I am back on that simple routine, and can now refocus the efforts on those ideas. Amazing how having everything in one document helps.

So why did I veer off into confusion land? Because the syllabus needs to be in one format, but my planning needs to have more columns, for one. Now I realize I should plan in the more columns format and just delete columns, copy and paste for the calendar and syllabus.

Keep it simple. I can do that. (now)

Always remember to plan ahead