I don’t know much about history (” … and Nowak begat Townsley, father of Cornally … “) but here are a couple of observations from a few years of watching math edubloggers come and go.
There are a few crude but useful ways to categorize math edubloggers. Some stay. Others quit. Some blog regularly. Others blog sporadically. Some bloggers construct posts while they’re teaching. Others construct posts after they’ve taught. The first two are fairly obvious, I suppose. The last one is the most interesting to me. You’ll find bloggers who include photos, student work, and other classroom artifacts in their posts as a matter of routine. These bloggers were developing those blog posts — maybe consciously, maybe subconsciously — at the same time they were developing those lesson plans.
Speaking personally, I realized one day that without intending to I had developed a critical community around my blog, a group of people who were willing to save me from my own lousy classroom design choices. They got better at giving criticism and I got better at receiving it. I also got better at posting the kind of rich, multimedia artifacts of classroom practice — photos, videos, handouts, etc. — that facilitated that criticism. I started to plan lessons while wondering at the same time, “What about this is gonna be worth sharing?” Lesson planning and blogging became hopelessly and wonderfully tangled up.
There are generations of math education bloggers that stick together in fascinating ways. Perhaps it goes without saying that math edubloggers start by reading blogs, then commenting on blogs they read, then writing their own blogs. (Not unlike every other kind of blogger, I suppose.) It’s interesting for me to lurk around, though, and see where the new bloggers are commenting. Totally anecdotally, new bloggers seem to interact primarily with a) bloggers who started blogging in their same generation and b) bloggers who started blogging in the previous generation. Confusing? Andrew Stadel and Fawn Nguyen both started blogging about math education at about the same time. They both provoke and encourage each other on their blogs. I also see them interact with Christopher Danielson who started blogging a little over a year earlier. Meanwhile, they comment less often on this blog because, I dunno, I’m some kind of old timer and they’re ageist or something. Basically: new bloggers find community at their own level of experience and they find mentors one limb above them in the math education blogging family tree.
Those are my only observations that aren’t completely obvious. It’s a weird community that is always hungry for personality and wisdom, that occasionally collaborates and supports itself in spectacular ways that knock the wind out of me.
Your summer assignment: jump in.
2012 Jun 18. Matt Townsley has a Google survey which may help us construct a family tree. I added my details. Feel free to pitch in.
2012 Jun 19. And the results of that survey. What does it mean?