Thursday, August 31, 2017

An #MTBoStory

#MTBoS got some public play this afternoon at our faculty meeting.

Today was our second and final day of opening meetings.  Our school's theme this year is "Curiosity."  Our dean of faculty asked several teachers to present brief summaries of what they had done this summer to demonstrate their own curiosity, and since she'd seen me sitting for hours on Twitter and rambling on about this #MTBoS thing I discovered, she asked me to be one of the presenters. (She knows all of this because she's also my wife.)

I decided that I wanted to take a risk -- I didn't think it would be very interesting to explain briefly what the MTBoS was and then show some of the things I'd found via this group.  It would translate:  "Here are some resources I found on this thing called the internet!"

Instead, I would simply do what I do -- open Twitter and search the #MTBoS.  Live in front of 80 colleagues.  And see what would happen.

Here's what happened.  The first tweet up was from Fawn Nguyen, explaining how a student came up with a third way to multiply 24 x 8.  I noted how that was interesting, scrolled down, saw some other cool stuff (Bumper Car Desmos!) and talked about how valuable I'd found this community.  It's a combination of the best magazine ever and the best faculty room ever. 

As I was wrapping up my five minutes (at the end of a 7 hour day of meetings, I might add), my friend the Spanish teacher (40+ years in the classroom) interrupted and said, "Wait a minute.  I want to know more about other way to multiple 24 x 8."

So, by popular demand we discussed at least three ways to find that product.  I was able to talk about how that's what we want of our students in a math classroom.  They are often focused on the answer; we want them to focus on the process, and the more different routes the better.

In summary: After hours of meetings, the idea that 24 x 8 could be found in multiple ways engaged adults who maybe hadn't been in a math class since high school.  Best. Subject. Ever.

Postcript:  A faculty couple pulled me aside afterward and said that they felt like their son was the kid who always had the third method.  He'd get the answer right, but was feeling from his teacher that he wasn't doing it the right way and therefore wasn't good at math.  He's starting middle school this year, which will hopefully offer him a fresh start, but it was a reminder to me of how I need to make sure to let each student be heard, even if it takes me a bit of effort to understand what they are saying.

So thanks for this, everybody.  I'm inspired by and in awe of what you're all doing every day.

Lastly, be sure to click here and pick a number!  'Cause that's always my bottom line.

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