Friday, December 30, 2011

Math Ponderings for the New Year - Ignite Your Teaching

I thought it would be fun to post several math-related Ignite videos from events my company has sponsored in the past year as a way to inspire some thought and spark some creativity around math and how we teach it. I must admit to being a little brain dead and suffering a lack of thoughts for posting.  I have been writing 5-6 hours every day for my literature review and, while I realize I should be posting to my blog, I find I don't have the energy, so I am going to take the easy way out and let others do the talking for me!

For those of you unfamiliar with Ignite, these are 5-minute presentations where the speakers have 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.  I have chosen just a few of my favorites here, but if you are interested in looking at more, you can find them at Key Curriculum Press Ignite.

Here are several for your enjoyment (in no particular order). Some inspiring, some funny, but all thought provoking and things we should consider as we begin 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hybrid PD - Online Community Development Pt 1
My first thoughts are that it is NEVER a good idea to start something new with teachers, especially an online learning environment, right before the holidays!  Of course, I did not have a choice in the matter, so we are going to plug on, but unfortunately I think the fact that everyone is definitely in vacation mode is hindering some of the online community development that should be happening at this point.

In my previous posts related to the hybrid PD I am working on for the next several months, Planning for Hybrid PD, Follow-up Day 1, and Follow-up Day 2, I reflected on what I planned to do in the face-to-face and gave some insight about what actually happened.  It has now been two weeks since my two cohorts have started their first online component and I wanted to share some thoughts on how that is progressing so far.

I have posted a couple of course announcements (these automatically go to all participants in the course) with holiday greetings and friendly reminders of what was due.  Will have to do some 'personal' emails to a few folks who have not participated as of yet.  In those personal emails, I will be a bit more 'authoritative' and remind them of the requirements.  In part, because these folks are part of a grant that actually is holding them accountable for the course requirements, so I have a responsibility to make sure I am encouraging and reminding them and supporting them as necessary.

The good news is, with both groups, almost everyone did the required introductions and posting to the first week discussions. As expected, some folks are quite vociferous and jumping right in to the sharing of themselves, while others are holding back a bit and sharing just basics.  But...there are already signs of several participants sharing more personal stories, joking with each other and even responding to other posts, so it's slow but positive.

I did have to make some facilitator decisions to sort of force the communication, as I did feel, especially this second week, that many have forgotten about the weekly posting requirements (again, holiday interfering here). It is always a tricky path to tread as the facilitator, as you don't want to participate too much in the discussion forums because you want the participants to begin to rely on each other versus always expecting the facilitator to step up. I did consciously respond to several prompts to model appropriate communication and provide some positive reinforcement and show everyone that the communication is not just posting responses to questions, but interacting with others and their reflections.  But again, I am being very careful about not responding too much (I definitely respond to questions specific to the technology or the content they are learning), as I want them to start developing reliance on each other as well.

Another decision I made, which is something you can do in a controlled online community/course such as the one I am using in Moodle, is I have 'forced' everyone in the class to subscribe to the forum.  This means when anyone posts, that post is automatically emailed to all course participants.  I made this decision because I wanted everyone to get the posts as a subtle reminder that they are in a course and should be posting and doing the activities themselves, but also to force the issue of reading what others are writing and hopefully inspire either some responses or some additional posting.  I may change this 'forced' subscription, but I did notice an increase in participation after I did this, so I think I will keep it for a while.

I am happy to see from those who are participating, that they are reading the Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice, doing the Sketchpad activities, and watching the assigned course videos and tutorials, and giving some very thoughtful feedback.  Their responses are of course impacting my thoughts on what we will be doing in our next face-to-face meeting in January.  Stay tuned!