Sharing is Caring: MTBoS

I’ve participated in a couple of the Missions put together by the fine folks running this fall’s Explore the MathTwitterBlogosphere.

And I’m cheating a bit, but thats ok, because its well within the spirit.

My school is four years old (or at least, will be once our seniors graduate in June), which means the majority of our staff is pretty young and inexperienced. At nine years, I have far more experience than many of my colleagues. I love sharing (its why I have a blog), and while I think it would be awesome if my colleagues all subscribed to a bunch of blogs…probably not happening.

So I started a distribution list. It began as emailing my residents cool things I saw that I thought we could use in the classes we taught together. Initially I just thought other residents might be interested, but it felt rude to only ask them, so I opened it up to the department–and a whole bunch of people were interested. (Again, almost all of the teachers in my department have less than five years experience and most are in their first or second year).

Google Readers passing this summer messed up my list for awhile, but I’m back on track with Feedly. If you’re interested in doing something similar, here’s my method:

  • Set up a googlegroup (Ok, get your more-technically-proficient-colleague to set up a googlegroup for you because you’re lame)
  • Email your department and see who wants to sign up. I explained that I usually send out a couple things a week, the text is included in the email so its very easy to read, and you don’t have to read it (I’ll never know). I aim to make it as low stress as possible because I think that encourages people to sign up. I’m also pretty open that I look for blogs that fit me, so I don’t send out a ton of geometry (I don’t teach it, so if thats all a teacher posts on I wouldn’t subscribe)
  • Subscribe to a whole bunch of blogs in Feedly.
  • Read them on your computer or your iPad. If you read it on your computer and want to share it, save it as unread because you don’t bother to set up a mail client.
  • Read something cool. Think others might be interested. Hit email on your Feedly app on your iPad and share it. Never write more than two sentences intro, and sometimes write nothing.
  • Share.

I have gotten SO MUCH positive feedback about this. I hear colleagues refer to things I sent out, people have tried these things–its awesome. And it takes very little effort on my part, a win all around.

Do you have a distribution list? How do you share?

If you’re interested in joining my list, let me know and I would be happy to sign you up.¬†

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Back to Basics

There are so.many.things out there on math blogs. I share my own, I forward others to my department, I try them in my class.

And I love it.

After this post, a comment sent me to Math With Bad Drawing’s Probability stories, and Ben Orlin graciously gave me permission to repost them on my (private) class blog. One of my students even asked when their next bedtime story was!

I love coming up with really interesting ways to teach things, and engage my students, and do inquiry.

But sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself that isn’t always the answer. (I think.) As I mentioned, my AP classes have just started Probability. I’m not that great at teaching it. It’s my students weakest area, so its a safe bet its mine too (and my fault). Most of my class had to retake that test last year.

So I spent a lot of time and agony on this years schedule. I added a couple of days. I tried to come up with great things to do.

But you know what I think we need right now? Some practice. We need to do some problems. We need the time and the space and the permission to draw 20 Venn diagrams and fill them in correctly, til it isn’t at all scary anymore. We need to find conditional probability of six different situations, one at a time. And we need to make sure we have our vocab and probability rules down.

Ironically, this is so, so easy to plan. I wrote 5 problems. I’m done teaching for two days. It feels lazy, but that doesn’t mean it is–and it doesn’t mean that’s bad for my students.

I wish I was better at really teaching this so they got it…but until I am, giving them to time and space to really practice (and review each problem, one by one) is the most beneficial thing I can think of.

Do you feel guilty when you do “boring” things in class? Any more ideas on how to help my kids with probability?