Monthly Archives: September 2013

Come Explore the MTBoS!

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

Yes, the time has come. But not for talk of cabbages or flying pigs or any of that. No, the time has come for…

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Are you…

  • just becoming aware that math teachers learning from each other online is a thing that happens, and your interest has been piqued?
  • new to Twitter and blogging, with your feet wet, but looking for a chance to really take a deep dive—to  get more involved?
  • someone who’s blogged and tweeted for a while, but wanting to try out some new things, meet some new people, and engage in a little MTBoS fiesta?
  • reading this post?

Then Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere could be right up your alley!

ExploreMTBoS is low-stakes but high-reward. It’s eight weekly “missions” to scope out different ways of engaging with people in the MTBoS, plus an opportunity to write about your experiences. That is, eight weeks of “here’s a thing you could do” and “here are some writing prompts about it or something related”. You’ll have the chance to read other participants’ reflections, chat with them on Twitter, and…flash mob?

So head on over and sign up. You just have to introduce yourself in a comment. Then be on the lookout—through the blog, Twitter, Facebook, or email subscription—for your first “mission” on October 6!

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On a personal note, one part of why I’m excited to be helping out with Explore MTBoS and participating in the missions is that it’ll help me to stay connected with a community I care about and to make new connections. I’m in a different headspace these day and have different kinds of tasks and challenges on my plate—like coordinating volunteers, putting together field trips and events, and helping with open houses for potential PLC members. And while I’m working with a few kids one-on-one with math and I’m running a Math Munch class once a week, much of my teaching is happening in other subjects—physics and programming and video games and poetry and PE.

Anyway, this is just to say that I’m having a blast with new things, but I’m grateful to have this way to stay engaged with the MTBoS. I hope you’ll join up for Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere, too, and encourage others to come share in the fun of the MTBoS. There’s something for everyone!

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Daily Desmos: Phase Two and You

If you haven’t scrolled through the goodies over at Daily Desmos before, scurry over there now! (If the link brings you nowhere, know that Dan Anderson is doing a bang-up job of migrating the site over to a snazzy new WordPress venue, and that it’ll be back up soon.)

One of my favorite Daily Desmos challenges that I've created so far.

One of my favorite Daily Desmos challenges that I’ve created so far.

What’s Daily Desmos? Well, I’ll link you to our How to Play page, but basically it’s a collection of graphing challenges created by a motley band of math teachers. Each week, Monday through Friday, someone presents two graphing challenges—one basic, one advanced. The most straightforward challenges are just a graph and the challenge is to create an equation that will create that graph. Straightforward, but necessarily all that easy. And other kinds of challenges have cropped up along the way—dots to be hit or avoided, animations, partial pictures, and more. At this point we’ve created hundreds of challenges, and there’s no sign of us slowing down. Definitely try some out for yourself!

So what’s Phase Two for Daily Desmos, you ask? Well, we thought that we’d try to take all of the groovy graphing juices we’ve got flowing and focus them through some new constraints and with some new goals in mind. For the next several weeks we’re going to be operating with a theme of linear functions. We hope that this will help us to create challenges that might more easily fold into classroom use. Also, it’ll be interesting to see what new perspectives on the good ol’ straight line we’ll produce, given the milieu and habits we’ve worked to establish over the last months. We’ll tackle other function families in the future.

And there’s another component to Phase Two. These weeks will be a testing ground for interesting linear graphing challenges—generating ideas, throwing them up against the wall, and seeing what sticks. In the background we’ll be working to craft a sequence of linear graphing challenges that could help a student who’s new to linear functions to ramp up their understanding and fluency. The end product will be posted as a stand-alone problem sequence on the Daily Desmos site. The effort will be spearheaded by the inimitable and prolific Michael Fenton. I can promise that whatever we put together won’t be a mere bottomless pit of procedurally generated “graph this linear function” exercises.

And where do You come in, dear reader? Well, as Dan already blogged, we’re looking for some new Daily Desmos crewmembers. What does that entail, you ask?

  • Every couple of weeks, you’d create two graphing challenges. Whatever floats your boat. According to a theme, if one is operative. And you can even tap your colleagues and students as collaborators!
  • Then you’d post your challenges on the site. This is pretty simple—if you write a blog, you basically already know how. And if you don’t, we can have you up and running in a few minutes.
  • You can sign up for a fixed term—a couple of months, say—or have it be open-ended and then bow out and take a break when you feel like it.

That’s it!

Creating challenges for Daily Desmos has been a ton of fun for me. I’ve learned some graphing tricks in the process, it’s been a creative outlet, and I’ve gotten to work with some really fabulous and passionate tweeps. I can heartily recommend signing up. If being a part of Daily Desmos sounds intriguing to you, just tweet at me or another crewmember, or shoot one of us an email.

Tallyho!