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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tell Me Why You Blog

So, as much to my surprise as anyone's, I'm not only talking at NCTM in April but they made me a featured speaker? Only freaking out a little. I applied in response to a few people who shall not be named (unless they want to out themselves) proposing "a possible blogging strand with maybe a panel or something." So as you can imagine, the idea for what I'm talking about is super well thought-out and fully baked right now. (That was sarcasm, if that wasn't clear.)

The benefits to written, public reflection are, to me, by this point, so internalized that I find them hard to articulate. And, "reflective practice" as The Thing to Do seems to have gone out of fashion. Now it's all about data. Data is the new Reflection.

Ahem. If you would, comment on this post and share with me some things:
1. What hooked you on reading the blogs? Was it a particular post or person? Was it an initiative by the nice MTBoS folks? A colleague in your building got you into it? Desperation?
2. What keeps you coming back? What's the biggest thing you get out of reading and/or commenting?
3. If you write, why do you write? What's the biggest thing you get out of it?
4. If you chose to enter a room where I was going to talk about blogging for an hour (or however long you could stand it), what would you hope to be hearing from me? MTBoS cheerleading and/or tourism? How-to's? Stories?

And, please, link your reply back to your blog, if you have one. I'll make every effort to cite appropriately. Feeling a little weird about crowdsourcing this but I should get over that already. This community has already helped me crowdsource lessons, units, math research, and recommendation letters. Lots of us like to say we got involved and stay involved in this so we can suck a little less. I only get one chance to not suck in New Orleans, and I'd love your help. Let's hear you.

15 comments:

  1. 1) I was getting ideas for lesson plans that I never would've gotten on my own. It wasn't just one post; it was just a big conversation that I lurked in on.

    2) I come back because blogs give me ideas for what interesting, relevant, fun math lessons can look like and I try to model my teaching around many of the things I learn.

    3) I don't write about math (my blogging focus is on religion), but I think the same principal applies. I have a voice online that I might not have at conferences or meetings. I have more influence on the broader conversation when I post something online. You don't need to be Diane Ravitch or someone in educational politics or think tanks or non-profits to make your views heard -- in fact, it'd be more meaningful if many people (math teachers) said the same things rather than one person, usually the same person, with a megaphone. The feedback I get makes me want to become more active with what I do.

    4) What topics generate the most conversation? Who benefits from different kinds of posts? How do you get readers early on? What will this change about how I teach? What's the best thing that happened through blogging that couldn't have happened otherwise?

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  2. 1. A little bit of desperation and a little bit of wanting to do better. #MTBoS has helped me push deeper.

    2. Because these are methods/problems/tools in development. They are flexible as a result and have not become rigid. There is a cutting edge sense that my students like.

    3. I don't write much yet, but I have opened a second blog where I post the problems and student responses. It gives them a sense of ownership I think in the process. When/If I do start top write I would hope it would be along the lines of throwing out a problem and fine tuning it through the wisdom of the crowd.

    4. Stories/cheerleading. My getting involved in the MTBoS really isn't world changing by itself. But if I/we can attract more people, we have a much great potential.

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  3. 1. Blog reading let me enter conversations about teaching math. I was so excited at first to be able to discuss these things on a daily basis. It was like being at a great conference, whenever I wanted to be there, for a few minutes at a time.

    It's about reflection, absolutely. For me, that's easiest in conversation.

    But really, what got me started was that I had met you at Notre Dame, and knew I liked how you thought, and wanted to follow your thoughts.

    2. I keep coming back because of the activities that Fawn, Bowman, and Sam post. (Sean posts great stuff, too, and once in a while I think I might be able to do it.) I want my college students to see that it's possible to actually enjoy math.

    3. I write to share my ideas & successes, my questions & failures. I write because I feel a need to write. I write to reflect.

    4. How did it change your life? How does it help less experienced teachers? Show me (not really me) how to get started.

    Not quite an answer to your questions, but entering the world of blogging (and email lists) got me started on the book that will soon be published. Changed my life. Maybe not as much as it changed yours, though.

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  4. Congratulations on the upcoming event.

    First, I started reading blogs because I had a colleague in the English department that did some reading and suggested it. This was probably four or five years ago. Since then, the amount I read has its peaks and troughs based on the demands of my schedule, but I always come back to it.

    Second, I read for a lot of reasons. I am in a department of six that has for the most part been pretty traditional. Reading substitutes for having a lot of people to bounce ideas off of, gain feedback from, hear stories from, or even at times vent to regarding math education and its current state. Reading blogs is a way for me to get ideas for lessons, policies, and general practice. More importantly , reading is a way to keep my sanity and realize that I am not crazy for believing that the status quo of mathematics education in the past is not good enough!

    As for writing, I don't have my own blog and I am currently just reading and posting comments (lurking in the blogosphere, I suppose). I would love to write to share my ideas, thoughts, practices; however, I just feel as though there are so MANY things that require time: students, lesson planning, grading, extra things asked of teachers, coaching to stay connected to the school, and raising my family. Not having my own blog has become a huge mental struggle for me lately.

    Last, if I were to hear you speak, I would want to hear how you developed your online community of practice that I have heard you and other bloggers speak of. Did the connections just happen because you were blogging? Also, when writing, what do you feel is worthy of writing about? Is you blog a way for you to share, keep connected, vent, etc. (or a combination thereof).

    Best of luck speaking.

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  5. I found the blogs by accident. I saw a foldable on Pinterest when I clicked on it led to the blog. I started reading the blog and it referenced twitter. I started to follow people the blog person followed I can't remember which blog it was but it was probably ispeakmath. What hooked me initially was finding some great foldables that I could use and also adapt to my needs. I crave having someone with which to talk about math ideas. Reading what others were doing fed that need a little. It also showed me a community of teachers also seeking to do better and willing to share their ideas. There are things I would like to do in my teaching that I am not there yet, like teaching more problem based. But reading about others and maybe trying something new here or there that I read others are doing helps my teaching evolve.
    Why do I keep reading the blogs? What do I get out of it? New lesson ideas, a change of pace for me and my students. Insiration. Also its nice to find a game or foldable that I can use all done and complete instead of spending hours trying to make my own version. What keeps me is that people are willing to share their ideas and their hard work with another teacher they don't even know. Those free materials have made my planning easier and given me some fun games that really have students doing math and having fun.
    I have just started blogging because of the MTBoS challenge. I have only written a few times but I hope to give back some of what I have been given. As I progress from the challenges I will be able to share some of my foldables and teaching ideas. It will be nice to get feedback and hear how others tweak something I made to make it better.
    What to for your talk? Show, tour, share!! Visit sites like estimation 180, visit a blog where you can see a teachers interactive notebook and foldables, show a blog where a game is shared. Have you used someones game or foldable? Have those things as samples at the tables that people can see. Teachers like free materials and if they see things they like they will go on the blogs to get them. There are a lot of blogs that list many of the middle school or the high school blog sites. Give them the address to those blog lists to give them a starting point. Feel free to contact me if you need more of an "outsider's" view. As I read the blogs but don't have a lot of personal connections that I see many people have gotten on Twitter. At times it feels hard to get to be a part of the community, but I have realized I am a quiet part. I read, and learn and change as a teacher. I am very thankful for all who have shared and I know I am a better teacher because of it.
    http://faithhopeandmath.blogspot.com/

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  6. What is your goal here? To give them an overview of the lively, supportive and accepting community of mathed folks online? To help people set up their own blogs? Maybe help them get a little braver about venturing online to lurk for awhile and then making a move to enter #MTBos? If they're mostly newbies then I think lots and lots of specific examples/stories of how A influenced B's work or how conversations on Twitter helped in emergencies would be really helpful.

    Maybe they'll be there b/c they already blog but have questions about some aspect of the process? I don't know what your original proposal was like, so I guess that's as much as I can offer for now. Cheers.

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  7. Thanks for getting my blogging-butt off the couch. Here you go, my two-cents of reflection: Why I Blog: A Retrospect

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  8. Instead of replying to your questions, I am going to pose one for you.

    What type of person do you think will be likely to come hear your "featured-speaker" self at NCTM-NOLA? I think a talk for people who aren't already blogging would (and should) be different than one for people who are already blogging/tweeting/etc.

    Of course, how you predict who will come to your talk is a complete mystery as far as I can tell. :)

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  9. 1) I found blogs as I was looking for teaching ideas for my preservice teachers. Most of what I read came from suggestions made on Twitter.

    2) I love the idea of teachers developing the profession (as opposed to attending professional development).

    3) My first post explains why I write: http://deltascape.blogspot.com/2011/01/whats-in-name.html

    4) How to engage in blogging - what it takes (potential), why do it (purpose), and how to do it safely (protected)

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  10. 1.) I saw Dan Meyer's TED talk, and I decided to see if he had a website. I kept finding good information there, and slowly decided to start a reader with the blogs I found through his site. It took awhile to really believe RSS feeds were worthwhile, but sblogs like yours proved to me that feeds were necessary to become a better teacher.
    2.) I come back to get information on how to teach better. I have found that my professional development through blogs has been amazing.
    3.) I have found writing to be liberating. I would like it to help people, but I don't really care if I am the only one who ever gets to see my writing.
    4.) I would like to see how to make blogging the most useful for my classroom. I would not want to hear much about MTBOS, except to know how it could help me be a better teacher. Time to start exploring would be nice if possible. Also, time to begin looking would be nice if I was new to blogging and reading blogs.

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  11. 1. Definitely desperation. I was 3 steps from quitting because I couldn't see a way to teach that made sense to me and my style of teaching didn't jive with how my colleagues did it. Like any good child of my generation I turned to the internet for help and found jybuell, ddmeyer, samjshah, k8nowak, and other folks putting out honest thoughts about their practice in ways that helped me examine my own with fresh eyes and make changes that kept me teaching.

    2. Much of it for me is that professional connection. Edu-nerding out is one of my favorite things and now I can do it just about anytime I want by popping open my reader. I think teaching in isolation is devastatingly hard on the mind and soul of a person--especially in places where there's not a lot of professional interaction that is productive and meaningful.

    3. I've blogged mostly as a way to clarify things for myself. Writing out stuff helps me to see it more objectively and move forward with changes and (hopefully) improvements.

    4. Convincing teachers that no matter where they are in their teaching they do have something to share with others in the profession to me is important. We all have a cadre out there that we fit into and I think we're much likelier to find that cadre online than in real life (though not always--MfA and other like-programs seem to do a good job creating/supporting/maintaining professional relationships, but they are the exception right now).
    Additionally, I think an understanding that you get what you give is important in online relationships that not something that I feel all people understand. Commenting on other blogs is important if you want other people to comment on yours. Just because it's a digital relationship doesn't mean it operates my different rules than an actual one.

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  12. 1. Definitely desperation. I was 3 steps from quitting because I couldn't see a way to teach that made sense to me and my style of teaching didn't jive with how my colleagues did it. Like any good child of my generation I turned to the internet for help and found jybuell, ddmeyer, samjshah, k8nowak, and other folks putting out honest thoughts about their practice in ways that helped me examine my own with fresh eyes and make changes that kept me teaching.

    2. Much of it for me is that professional connection. Edu-nerding out is one of my favorite things and now I can do it just about anytime I want by popping open my reader. I think teaching in isolation is devastatingly hard on the mind and soul of a person--especially in places where there's not a lot of professional interaction that is productive and meaningful.

    3. I've blogged mostly as a way to clarify things for myself. Writing out stuff helps me to see it more objectively and move forward with changes and (hopefully) improvements.

    4. Convincing teachers that no matter where they are in their teaching they do have something to share with others in the profession to me is important. We all have a cadre out there that we fit into and I think we're much likelier to find that cadre online than in real life (though not always--MfA and other like-programs seem to do a good job creating/supporting/maintaining professional relationships, but they are the exception right now).
    Additionally, I think an understanding that you get what you give is important in online relationships that not something that I feel all people understand. Commenting on other blogs is important if you want other people to comment on yours. Just because it's a digital relationship doesn't mean it operates my different rules than an actual one.

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  13. 1. I had just left a job teaching at a private school where all of my existence was spent in isolation, cranking away at creating curriculum that was covered at a blistering pace only to be memorized and regurgitated by students of whom the majority only cared about getting an A, rather than learning.

    One late night in August 2010 I somehow stumbled across a post by David Cox that revolutionized my perspective on teaching. All of a sudden I realized that there were people out there who were teaching the way that I WANTED to be teaching. Stumbled from there to Meyer, Cornally, you and Ashli and others.

    I've never looked back, and can't imagine teaching the way that I used to.

    2. Tbh, I mostly lurk, and don't take a lot of opportunities to give feedback and engage, or share my own stuff. The biggest thing I get is simply multiple perspectives on how to approach content. Sometimes I take stuff and modify it, sometimes just file it away as inspiration. The bloggers I read push me to be a better teacher every time.

    3. Not writing at the time, mostly out of all of my hours spent currently on trying to put together 3 new courses to me, spend time with my fiancee so she doesn't kill me, and buy a house. :) Sometime in the next couple years I'll make the leap.

    4. Every chance I can take, I try to get people to realize just what is out there in the MTBoS. I'd definitely want to hear more about how to find ideas, organize content, etc. Go cheerleading.

    Also, massive congratulations on being able to speak. You completely deserve it and are one of the most innovative folks I've been able to watch from a distance!

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  14. 1. I was trying to do things (in this case SBG) that nobody in my school was trying to do. I was a bit desperate and turned to the internet.

    2. The variety of thought. I always enjoy it when someone is struggling with the same problems as me but either has a different want of framing the problem or different approach.

    3. I think I mostly write because I see gaps in what's out there and try to fill it. Generally my first step for help is always blogs/twitter. If I can't find anything I do the research or try it out on my own. Then I blog for anyone else who has the same questions. I think that's why I blog in bursts. It usually comes after a creative period for me that I feel I should share.

    4. I think I would need to know what I would get out of writing that I couldn't get elsewhere. Probably if I was brand new I would need to know that it's worth doing even if nobody ever reads it. I don't know what the traffic is like but I'd guess the majority of teacher bloggers out there get daily single digit hits and a significant group can go days without any.

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  15. 1. It was the summer after college, and the month before I started teaching. I had no education course work. I needed to learn how to teach, and I guess I'm the sort of guy that searches the internet to start learning about something.

    2. I like the ideas that people have. I like the connections that I've made with thoughtful people. I like the higher standards for success that some people hold themselves to around here.

    3. I was writing this comment, and then I realized that it was getting long and that it didn't really make any sense. I guess I'll try to blog about why I blog.

    The short answer is that I enjoy writing. I don't write because I have something that I want others to hear, but I write because I have something to say and I want to get better at saying it.

    The longer answer is longer and needs its own space. A teaser: Part of what I enjoy about the whole process is doing things that other people like. I like it when I write a post that other people think is worth sharing. I'm not sure how healthy that impulse is. I think it's OK.

    4. I'd be interested in your personal stories. I'd like to know how blogging has mattered to you and to your friends. I'd like it to be as funny as your writing.

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Hi! I will have to approve this before it shows up. Cuz yo those spammers are crafty like ice is cold.