Daily Archives: August 23, 2012

Is your Google Reader feeling empty? [Math Blogger Initiation Week 1]

As full as my Google Reader is, I am so excited about the math blogger initiation going on right now, run by everyone’s favorite fairy blog father – the wonderful, ever-present, inexhaustible Sam Shah (my co-star in Magic Mike 2). Here are fifteen great posts in no particular order from new bloggers. Support their foray into math blogging by getting on their blogs and commenting! Those first bits of feedback really get people hooked on blogging!

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TJ Hitchman @ProfNoodlearms has a blog named **Circles and Tangents**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **What to do with linear algebra? Some Inquiry Based Learning!“** and the author sums it up as follows: **This is a “plan out loud” session for the basic structure of my linear algebra course. Writing is a good vehicle for finalizing decisions and making real commitment to change in the classroom.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **I have unreasonable expectations of the average undergraduate.**

Kyle Harlow @KBHarlow has a blog named **War and Piecewise Functions**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **New Blogger Initiative: Week One“** and the author sums it up as follows: **My AP Calculus students are weak in Precalculus skills, especially graphing functions and translations. They all have graphing calculators, which seems like a great aide in combating the problem. But so far, there is no evidence that the students are using them.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **I want to stand on my desk and loudly ask my Calculus students what they’ve been doing with those $120 paperweights they carry around.**

Pippi has a blog named **Pippi’s Adventures in Teaching**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **Literacy“** and the author sums it up as follows: **My ninth graders have trouble reading and understanding complicated (and sometimes not-so-complicated) problems. This kills some of them on their state tests, even if they know the concepts the question is supposed to be about. I’m trying to find ways to help them practice reading and get better at it.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **I’d like for the answer to be something they can draw as often as possible, since that forces them to really think and synthesize information, rather than just picking words semi-randomly out of the paragraph and writing them for their answer.**

Jennifer Wilson @jwilson828 has a blog named **Easing the Hurry Syndrome**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **The Title“** and the author sums it up as follows: **We often hear that technology speeds things up. In my classroom, however, I find that using technology actually slows down the pace. When students explore difficult concepts using dynamic technology, they ask questions that they haven’t thought of when thinking about the concept in a static environment. When I use a student response system to check for student understanding, I find out during class what misconceptions need to be addressed, instead of waiting to find out on a summative assessment. Using technology “eases the hurry syndrome” in my classroom.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **Using technology eases the hurry syndrome, forcing me to pay attention to the questions students have and allowing me to assess their progress in a timely manner.**

Meagan Bubulka has a blog named **variablesofmath**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **Hello World!“** and the author sums it up as follows: **About 2 goals I have for this year: more/better parent contact and making my flipped classroom more effective and useful!** A memorable quotation from the post is: **I want to make this process better for the students, streamline the videos and make them more my personality while making them even more valuable. **

Erin @ErinYBaker has a blog named **Math Lessons on the Loose!**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **Yay for Blogger Initiation: A Goal for the First Week of School“** and the author sums it up as follows: **I focused on the goal to start a robotics club team at my school by participating in a STEM program called FIRST Challenge. I also have an interesting link to free online Stanford classes.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **Through this robotics club, I am hoping to create an outlet for students who may not have had that moment/opportunity in school yet to let out some of the creative and explorative minds. **

Pamela Rawson has a blog named **rawsonmath**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **The Evolution of a Teacher“** and the author sums it up as follows: **It’s about how graphing calculators have changed over the years that I’ve been teaching, from non-existent to TI-Nspire. It’s also about how those changes affect how and what I teach. Well, more how than what.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **After all, it’s just a tool. If I can’t use it to teach something, then what’s the point?**

Pam Rissmann has a blog named **PPerfect Squares**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **PPerfect Squares — It’s a rap!“** and the author sums it up as follows: **Why did I name my blog PPerfect Squares? I wrote this math rap my first year teaching, and my classes love singing it in class, and I’ve been known to rap the song at school talent shows. Kind of corny, but fun. My blog post includes the lyrics and an avatar singing it.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **PPerfect Squares, perfect squares goes on and on, but this is the end of this song!**

haversine has a blog named **Bowditch’s Apprentice**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **Like a Butterfly’s Wings in China“** and the author sums it up as follows: **What an inspiration Nat Bowditch has been to me since 5th grade me read about him in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. ** A memorable quotation from the post is: **Nat famously steered his ship home to Salem during a blinding snowstorm one Christmas, confident in his calculations.**

Tad Snaith @TadSnaith has a blog named **What Does Math Mean**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **Why are students “good” at math?“** and the author sums it up as follows: **An attribute that I believe helps students or anyone understand a math concept is the ability to play a movie in their head of the idea.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **From my experience talking to students about their inadequacies which impede these skills we take for granted I strongly believe that if students or anyone for that matter are able to play a movie in their head of the math concept at hand then that person will have success at deciphering tougher math problems.**

Erin Wade @ewade4 has a blog named **wadingthrumath**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **This year…“** and the author sums it up as follows: **While it’s my 8th year teaching, it is my second at my current school and I’m still adjusting. These are some of the areas I’d like to improve this year! ** A memorable quotation from the post is: **PS…any suggestions on how to best utilize 43 minute class periods?? **

Ann Gorsuch @AnnGorsuch has a blog named **anngorsuch**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **My Goals for Student Teaching“** and the author sums it up as follows: **Here are my six hopefully attainable goals for student teaching. ** A memorable quotation from the post is: **Goal 2: Teach students to justify (explain why) and challenge (ask why) their thinking**

Nick Gerhard @nickgerhard has a blog named **Gerhard’s World**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **New (School) Year’s Resolutions“** and the author sums it up as follows: **I have a lot of goals for this year that will hopefully improve my teaching and my students’ learning. If I can not procrastinate, change up my teaching styles, continue working with my PLN, and stay positive this will prove to be a great school year. ** A memorable quotation from the post is: **Most resolutions are stop smoking, lose weight, yada yada yada.**

Lori Ferrington @loferrington has a blog named **Shift(ed)ucator**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **Standardized Grading Setting the Standard?“** and the author sums it up as follows: **I’m reflecting on last year to see explore some changes to be made for the upcoming school year. Specifically, I look at the possibility of implementing standards based grading to more accurately reflect student achievement.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **I like the ideas and am just beginning to form the thought of how this will look in my classroom environment, but I’m excited about making changes for this next year and refuse to let a standardized grading policy be the measure of my students’ achievements.**

Dave Enrico @denrico1 has a blog named **Me Dot**. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled **New Blogger Initiation: A Star Is Born“** and the author sums it up as follows: **I used to want to become a “master teacher.” Now I prefer the ring of “improving teacher.” I think this could be a sign of growth.** A memorable quotation from the post is: **So I should be, what, a third-degree master now, right?**

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–> OTHER COLLECTIONS OF NEW BLOGGER POSTS FROM WEEK 1: JulieFawnAnneMeganBowmanSamLisaJohn@druinokTinaKateSue

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Building My Course Website with Google Sites

My school uses Moodle as our platform for sharing course materials. I used it for two years, but it was just way too clunky for me – editing everything takes thrice as many clicks as it should. So last year I decided to upgrade to a Google Site for my class. I just redesigned it for the upcoming school year and it looks really pretty, so I wanted to share it:

Here’s the new site, which doesn’t have any content yet, but will aim to do the same thing as my old course website for the same class (if you want to see what content I put on there). On my site students…

  • Check their homework assignments (I do not write homework on the board, just announce that there is homework)
  • Check for upcoming tests and quizzes – I write which standards are included, so then students…
  • Read the text of standards for the course
  • Access materials to study for specific standards, whether for the first quiz, or for a reassessment
  • Find daily materials including images, problems and links for students who take notes on the computer
  • Leave anonymous feedback for me
  • Check their grades (I make internet reports with EasyGrade Pro, host them in my Public Dropbox folder and link from this website)
  • Access the grading scale for standards
  • Request a Reassessment, through a Google Form, which goes to a spreadsheet I can see
  • Access a virtual whiteboard through Scribblar where we can interact virtually after hours, or where students can interact with each other (experiment this year)
  • Fold their laundry (there’s an app for that)

As you can tell, I use it for a lot of different things in my class, all aimed to INCREASE student accountability, which is why I spent time to make it look how I wanted it to. Some tweeps enjoyed the look (and the fact that I have some goofy elements in my Reassessment Request form, check them out), and they were wondering if I could post a template for the site, so I did! When you are making your Google site, if you are at the “Manage Site” interface, click on Themes at the bottom of the sidebar and then click on the Browse More Themes button at the top right.

Theme name: Math Class Portal – @bowmanimal

The pretty banner wont be there, but other than that everything else should. The only thing that you really have to change besides adding your own content are the forms embedded in the Reassessment Request page and the Anonymous Feedback page. Those are both Google Forms. You can either link your own existing forms … OR I posted templates of those in the Google Doc Templates which you can modify and use.

  • Go to docs.google.com/templates
  • Search for “Bowman Dickson
  • One is named “Anonymous Feedback Template” and one is named “Reassessment Request Template
  • Just click on “Use this template” to make your own. In the document, if you go to Form –> Edit Form, you can make your revisions.
  • Then link the forms from the website to the one you created instead of the ones from my template.

PS. The background of my website is an origami crease pattern… if you do some origami and then unfold it so the paper is flat, you can color the creases and the folds different colors to reflect the 3D structure. Beautiful!