Circumblogivation & New Year, New Projects

That’s right. I’ve circumblogivated the year! Eat your heart out, Magellan.

It’s actually been a year and two months, but that’s all to the good. Thank you so much for reading, commenting on, and sharing what I write here on I Choose Math. It’s been amazingly fruitful, satisfying, and fun to participate in the online math ed community through blogging.

The new school year has been busy, of course, and has prompted me to some new projects. Let me tell you about some!

First, what better way to celebrate a year of blogging that to start more blogs? Inspired by Frank’s 180blog from last year and jonesing to jump on the zeitgeist, I’m photoblogging my way through the year at lanier180.wordpress.com. I feel like what I write about here on I Choose Math tends toward the theoretical and “big picture”, and that I usually only post when I “have something to say.” And I’m totally happy and excited that I have a place to share those thoughts. Still, I’m hoping (and it’s been true so far) that by blogging daily about my classroom practice, I’ll look at my classroom a little differently and have the chance to reflect on what goes on there in further useful ways. Plus, it’s been a lot of fun so far to write about my day-to-day teaching experience!

Another blogging project is for my Geometry: Investigations class: investigations1213.blogspot.com. This is the third year I’ve taught this course—it’s a version of Geometry that students can opt into—but this is the first year when it’s been officially “mine.” As in, my name was next to it in the course catalog. The class is built around large, rich geometrical Investigations that students take on individually, in small groups, and as a whole class. On our class blog, students have been making posts about their work and commenting on each other’s posts. The site’s beginning to hit its stride. I also post a lot of our class’s materials on the site—you can get a pretty good picture of how our classroom runs by clicking around on it. And feel free to comment on students’ posts!

One of my seventh grade classes is really ramped up to have their own website—their idea, not mine—and we’ve just gotten the administrative go ahead for it.  We brainstormed names for it last class. And we’ve got a nascent school-wide math art blog going as well.

And rest assured there are non-blogging projects, too. A big one is that I’m working to help my students assume more responsibility for creating  and compiling evidence of their learning. I read a blog post this summer (which I can’t find now) that discussed placing the burden of proof of learning on students. My new mindset is that it’s not my job to gather evidence that my students have learned such-and-such—rather, it’s my job to help them to create and showcase this evidence.

This is harder, but it’s also more authentic.

Part of this is broadening my expectations for the kind of products and experiences that my students will have. Despite having a lot of latitude to teach as I please, I’ve pretty much kept in the mold of expecting uniform products, outcomes, and experiences from a class of students. But I see more clearly now that these don’t have to be the same. Helping students to create portfolios of their work that give evidence of mastery and awesomeness—in individual ways—is a tall order, but one that I’m really excited about. (Thanks to Shawn for copious inspiration on this front.)

Here’s a generic Geometry portfolio from my class that you can check out.

So that’s what’s cooking. Superfun. More soon!

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