Month: February 2008

Total 25 Posts

Why Twitter?

Jeff Wasserman:

if you figure out exactly what the heezy you’re supposed to, like, DO with Twitter, please to let me know, sir.

I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with Twitter, but Twitter, for now, satisfies my need to publish tiny short-form pillbombs, small-caliber blasts of insight and sarcasm, but mostly sarcasm, the sorta stuff which – for reasons of length and content – I can’t get away with on my blog but which I have to get away with somewhere.

I do this for me, not you, not because I think I have anything you need, but because authoring content of all shapes and sizes is what I need.

Which is why I don’t follow anyoneExcept Zac Chase, who is my entire world for reasons too stupid and petty to recount. As much as I’m interested in the farty minutiae of everyone’s day-to-day, I don’t know that I have time for another timesucking feedreader right now. I have Twitter set to deliver any and all “@ddmeyer” replies, but I don’t have much interest in the TwittersphereOr whatever you people call it. Haven’t been around long enough to absorb the vernacular. beyond my front stoop.

What’s interesting about my specific purposing of Twitter (and what makes it worth even a passing mention on this blog) is that some folks find it inexplicable, even offensive. Perhaps my explanation above will render the conspiracy theories, hyperventilations, and picket lines moot, and I don’t want to generalize too much here, but this all seems a bit too weird, too rich in irony, to ignore.

I realize I’m already positioning myself as the obnoxious party guest at the Twitter Mansion, but here it is on the real: as with a hammer, a fax machine, or any other tool, I’m unobliged to a) Twitter, b) the community y’all have constructed around it, or especially c) the social norms and artifice you’ve invested in that community.

I’m just over here, in my own shed, banging away at some nails because I find the experience satisfying. Watch or don’t, but resenting my satisfaction because it isn’t yours, because this tool doesn’t apply identically to my life as it does yours, speaks precisely to my historic irritation with the School 2.0 sectarians.

Making Months Of Repetitive Chatter Instantly Worthwhile

In the same Classroom 2.0 thread entitled “Top 3 Blogs to Read?” in which a member asks for the network’s three favorite edublogs:

  1. Mathew Needleman recommends his own blog, Creating Lifelong Learners, without qualification.
  2. Nick Pernisco recommends his own blog, Understand Media, without qualification.

I mean, c’mon, fellas. I spend several hours a day reading my own archives just like anyone else, but calling myself my own favorite edublogger? Not with a straight face. Not in a Ning forum. I mean, if this sorta thing slides by in our social networks, how much longer ’til our classrooms fall?

Plus, as if that weren’t enough fun:

  1. Nancy Bosch qualifies a dy/dan recommendation with: “he irritates the heck out of me.”

Does the edublogosphere need a Gawker? I just registered a few domains, in any case.

Letter to a New Teacher

Awhile back, a new teacher e-mailed me:

I’m tired of watching math taught the way math is taught at my school – review last night’s homework, give notes, start that night’s homework. I want to do things differently but I don’t know how.

I’m not gonna pretend my kids wouldn’t rather be at Seabright than taking my class, but year-for-year my attendance has never been higher. For the first time since getting into this, I get kids mad at me for calling in a sub. Like they prefer the class with me in it than without.

Here, reformatted a bit for blog output, is my reply:

Such a huge question, [redacted]. Let’s see where ten minutes of typing takes us.

Kids today, I think, find the typical classroom pace too slow. Teacher writes something on the board. Kid writes it down. They talk about it. Two years ago I chopped that time in half using a digital projector and Keynote to type my notes in advance of the class. I gesture. I talk about whatever they see on the board but they don’t have to wait for me.

Transitions take too long. Teachers burn a few minutes here and there passing out worksheets or getting kids started into an opener or allowing them to line up at the door early.

Basically I think the first step to creating a classroom that kids look forward to is to reclaim any minutes you possibly can through good planning and good classroom management.

After that you pave the way for a lot of miscellaneous fun. For example, if you run a warmup, toss an interesting question onto the end that’s unrelated to math. They’ll look forward to it. It’ll show ’em that their teacher cares about stuff they’re interested in or at least that she doesn’t just care exclusively about stuff they aren’t interested in (ie. math). I’ve attached a list of questions I use in class, most of which were lifted from a book called Vital Statistics which I wholeheartedly recommendDon’t ask..

After you salt those throughout your class routine, you start making the math more engaging. Ask yourself: if I have a good idea for a mathematical connection or application, can I make a learning experience out of it? If you don’t have a projector, you’re pretty well limited to worksheets and outside artifacts. But from there, walking around with the knowledge that if you had a good idea, you could do something with it, you’ll start getting good ideas from all corners.

I get ’em watching TV a lot. I extract a video clip and make a thirty-minute worksheet out of it. Not ’cause I have any amazing insight or skills but because I’m constantly in teacher mode, looking for interesting things.

So you’ve started tossing small engaging bits along the margins of your classroom and you’ve started making your activities more interesting. Then I really recommend you reconsider how you assign homework and how you assess. In my opinion, the default procedures for homework (1-30 odd) and assessment (large, comprehensive tests every two weeks) are extremely damaging to kids. I have two posts in my most-read sidebar (Why I Don’t Assign Homework & How Math Must Assess) which explain a lot of this.

Brain dump there, [redacted]. Please don’t consider any of this prescriptive or gospel. There are plenty of ways to make a math class that kids hate to miss. These are a few of mine.