I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. at first glance, and also second, i don’t know what you’re trying to say here, dan. what i think you are saying i disagree with strongly, and that doesn’t happen very often when i read your blog. so let me first say that i may be very wrong about how i’m interpreting this post.

    i’m pretty sure that i’ve met and worked with teachers like this. boring might not be a fair assessment. geeky perhaps, and by the book, and not sharing many of your passions. but 1535 education related tags is the mark of an educator who is passionate about something. boring seems an unfair tag.

    “how to be a disciplined / reflective / pedagogically sound teacher”? i envy the organization of this teacher. my equivalent image would display “unfiled 200”. except i don’t have an equivalent image. because i’m too disorganized to even bother with using anything like delicious or wherever this image is from.

  2. Jeff, I wonder if he’s bothered more by the large number of “ed tech” tags, or the fact that this person has no tags outside education? I know from past discussions, that he feels many edtechies don’t have a very rounded reading list.

    IF that is the case, maybe this educator has a separate account for non-ed bookmarks so as to separate the personal from the professional. Not my way of doing things, but there is an argument for that.

    I agree with you that it’s a minor miracle for someone to have their stuff that well organized.

  3. I can’t really dispute Jeff’s interpretation. This (thoroughly fabricated, composite, but representative) teacher is disciplined, reflective, organized, etc., but also very, very narrowly interested.

    My point is a little blunt above, but try to contrast these tagged bookmarks with your students’, if they tagged their interests in the same way.

  4. Hands up all readers who went and checked their delicious accounts?

    I’m guilty as charged – boring to the bone – or I’m just an unimaginative tagger. I haven’t made a shift (or maybe even considered one until now) from using delicious as a place to house useful links for my teaching to making it a place to house useful links for my learning. Otherwise #comics and #photoshop or #coolvideos would be featured there somewhere.

    Ah, us broadminded Web 2.0 edublogger types do need a good look in the mirror from time to time, don’t we?

  5. When I was a younger teacher, I thought my calling was to “be interesting.” I withheld my age from students who wanted to know and contrived as much mystery about my personal life and personal interests as possible. This bought me limited stores of credibility and set a classroom mood that was unhelpful.

    The first chapter of my forthcoming book, How Not To Be A Miserable New Teacher, is entitled “Be Interested,” a mandate which turns out to be twenty times easier and twenty times more effective at establishing a positive mood of inquiry in a classroom than “Be Interesting.”

    So whatever else goes on in class I make sure to carve out a few minutes to share whatever the hell has caught my eye the day before. Paradoxically, making my interests prominently known in class has made me more interesting to my students.

    I’m sure it’s possible to develop that kind of classroom mood of inquiry, that roving eye for interesting classroom content, while still maintaining a Delicious feed stocked principally with education and education-related bookmarks, I just don’t know how that works.

  6. Big, big laughter.

    I have a great idea. Why don’t we count how many (useless!) presuppositions about this (*fictitious!!*) teacher are buried in the post and see who can get to the highest number.

    Meantime, Dan can revisit substituting art for substance, and instead post the text of his book’s first chapter, which I’m fairly salivating to read. (Not kidding.)

  7. Nothing says that said person has entirely education-related bookmarks; just the top 10 are guaranteed to be.

    I don’t think that speaks too much. Tags on delicious seem to form a long tail, where some things you tag often while there are many, many articles tagged with one-time only tags.

    And honestly, I think educators tags would look similar to that. The work/pedagogical/geeky (boring?) items congregate upon a small, definite set of tags while masses of other items (interesting?) are tagged with different tags each time.

    Can you honestly even say most of your classroom material which you find interesting would share the same set of tags?

  8. Seems we could find that out pretty easily. Dan has but to bid his minions to post screenshots of their delicious tags. It might be interesting to see. I already went and checked out Dan’s so I could peer inside his soul. Sadly, no dark surprises.

  9. Dina, If I stretch hard I can count two presuppositions here, none of which are useless. All of them, for me, are instructive:

    1) Students can relate better to teachers who are broadly interested, particularly, to teachers who aren’t merely interested in the business of teaching.

    2) A teacher’s tagged bookmarks are usefully representative of the breadth of her interests.

    What am I missing? How are these useless? And I fabricated this teacher not to accentuate a point, only to render the subject anonymous. It’s like you people are allergic to any kind of inference these days.

    Morgante, yes.

  10. I think it’s a valid point – kind of goes back to the Wire clip with Pryzbylewski.

    I would be interested in seeing other people’s lists and what they think they portray. I looked at mine and it made me think both about my interests and how I was/am tagging things. Apparently I lack imagination as my top tag is “interesting.”

    Off to find a dictionary.

  11. My bookmarks show NO diversity (education is the most frequent tag), but my google reader is where you can see more stuff. I only list the ed stuff on my blog. I wouldn’t mind sharing other stuff.

    I don’t share as much with the kids as Dan does. Being in elementary, I can get heat for playing some of my favorite artists (Lily Allen, or Amy Winehouse) to the fourth graders, but I do share photos of the family, and talk about my life outside of school, and ask them about theirs.

  12. What would I ‘tag’ this post?

    What tags do you want to see? Should school districts peruse tags to determine if candidates are interesting, diverse, and dynamic?

    Perhaps varied tags indicate nothing more thanthe mark of a diverse person with a penchant for nouns.

    Oh, and from my tagged world, my top two tags are ‘web2.0’ and ‘fun’.

    Wonder what the overlap is?

  13. What tags do you want to see? Should school districts peruse tags to determine if candidates are interesting, diverse, and dynamic?

    It’s hard not to skim past comments bylined “ken” when you insist, as a matter of policy, on inflating any broad-pointed thesis of mine past the point of absurdity.

    The answer to both your questions should be evident to anyone who didn’t come here bent toward the contrary: “I dunno.” Should I apologize also for not considering how this single wordless post should inform national policy on teacher retention and pay? Is this sort of sniping really fun for you?

    On the other hand, I would be interested in your soberminded assessment of my two suppositions above, which make it pretty obvious I’m not aiming at national policymaking here.

  14. My classes go so much better when I wax a bit about totally random stuff. Like when I tell the kids about the green dog that I saw in Chicago this weekend. Anything that makes me not seem like the loser robot of equations tends to make kids feel happier and more engaged when they get down to 15 – 403 odd for the homework.

  15. And I guess this is where we part ways.

    Good luck with your book. You’re a talented writer, and apparently, either too esoteric for me, or I bring meaningless and tangential analysis to all the wrong parties.

  16. my hypothesis is that there’s a bit of history here, a pattern in ken’s comments, which dan is reacting to. because i can’t read what ken wrote in the same light as what dan interpreted.

    again, i figure that there must be more to this because i so rarely find myself disagreeing with you, dan. i know i’m not so active usually in comment threads, but i’ve been lurking here continuously since that four slide contest way back when. i enjoy your honesty and passion.

  17. It’d probably be prudent to let this whole thing pass by but the deal with comments is this:

    I prefer dissent to agreement. But preferable to both of these is expansive dissent and expansive agreement, the opposites of which are, respectively, snarky nitpicking and mindless backpatting, neither of which do anything, intellectually, to get me off.

    What’s killing my buzz lately is the subsection of dissenting commenters who only come by to dissent, though even this isn’t so bad. Tom Hoffman’s unique purpose around these parts is to stop by and tell me I’m full of shit but Tom does me some service here by:

    a) disagreeing with the thesis I intended, not a straw man he imagined;
    b) expanding on his own argument with either i) a helpful hyperlink, ii) a few sentences analyzing or expanding on his own counterargument, iii) on occasion, a follow-up post on his blog.

    I’m not interested in chasing anybody away here but if ground rules like 1) don’t snark; 2) don’t nitpick; 3) don’t set straw men ablaze; 4) be useful; are too stringent, please, by all means, invest your time and comments somewhere else. And I know that a great many people and bloggers value Ken’s constructive commentary, commentary which I have found he chooses to withhold in this forum more often than not.

    Time was, comments pushed me forward, inspired my follow-up posts. Lately, though, it’s the opposite; they impede my writing. I find myself gut-checking myself before I post anything or even sit down to write, wondering who will come out of the woodwork interested only in pushing me off balance. Speaking creatively and intellectually, comments here are an unhealthy diet. I think if I can’t reconcile their value, I need to a) ignore them entirely or b) shut them off.

  18. Hmm, I think this is getting WAY to intense. Look this post doesn’t “sing” to me, but I don’t think you’re out in left field either. Please don’t take this personally.

    I think your general point, teachers need to read more than just stuff related to their profession is a good point. I’ve been in two fields, business and education. There were a lot of business majors at my undergrad college similar to the folks I ended up working with in banking. They were a pretty incurious bunch. There were a few of us with Liberal Arts type degrees (I had one boss who had majored in Geography and another that did French before she got her MBA). I did not have tons of intellectual discussions in the break room. Fast forward to teaching. Some of my colleagues do read novels, but I’ve run across a some like my old college friend’s former in-laws. Dad was an elementary principal, they had NO books in the house except the Bible, and no other reading material besides Christian Life magazine. That’s sad. Even an interest in crafts and knitting (I like the later) would show some creativity. I don’t want to be that principal, and I don’t think it’s good if most educators are like that.

    I think that was your general point, if I’m mistaken, I apologize. I think the delicious tag metaphor was a bit limiting, but hey you can bowl a strike every time or for every reader.

  19. I figured if I came back, the comments would be worth it… I wasn’t sure what you were getting at either. Maybe it was the anal retentiveness of tagging 37 websites with over 1500 tags, which I found amusing more than anything else. As for me, my tags do reflect my interests, top among them being education, design and photography. However, there is, as Morgante pointed out, a long tail to tags, so I have more items not tagged “Education” than I have with that tag…

  20. Dan, you know I love you but… =)

    1. Don’t snark? Aren’t you often the king (or at least the prince) of snark?

    “I find myself gut-checking myself before I post anything or even sit down to write, wondering who will come out of the woodwork interested only in pushing me off balance. Speaking creatively and intellectually, comments here are an unhealthy diet. I think if I can’t reconcile their value, I need to a) ignore them entirely or b) shut them off.”

    2. Hey, the Social Web’s a rough and tumble place. Hearing folks say that your post is ‘ho hum,’ that you’re ‘dangerously innumerate,’ or worse is no fun sometimes but also can be good for one’s ego. When did you get such a thin skin? Marriage isn’t turning you soft, is it?

    P.S. My tags suck. Don’t even bother looking for them…