Twitter and the MTBoS

I’ve recently made myself a part of the #MTBoS.  I skipped the week 1 blog post, because every time I sat down to write it, I couldn’t find the words to describe what made my room unique.  The most unique thing I could think of is that I teach my boys how to shake a hand and tie a tie and help them turn into young men.  I’ve had a really hard time blogging, as I keep trying to find the perfect words, or perfect scenario to blog about and it’s just not coming to me. However, this week I can definitely comment on as I just started using twitter professionally and it’s changed how I’ve been teaching. 

First off, since using twitter, my eyes have been opened to all the programs, websites, and tech options that are out there for teachers.  I discovered DESMOS for crying out loud! I’ve incorporated DESMOS in some way/shape/form into my lessons since I’ve found it.  What an easy way to teach transformations of functions.  I let the students play with the sliders and make conjectures of their own.  They are in charge of their learning. 

I’ve also discovered Geogebra which completely transformed how I teach the geometry unit (get it…transformed). The geometry unit was new to us this year and through a huge wrench in my system.  Initially I was having the students graph and perform transformations to see the patterns…which became completely irrelevant if they performed it wrong.  Once again, I used Geogebra to pose questions about what they think will happen, performed the transformation, and they make a conjecture (i hope i’m using that word correctly). They are in charge of their learning. 

Probably one of the best sites i’ve discovered is Estimation180.  My students come in every year with little to no number sense.  This site has been a great way to briefly build in number sense every day.  And best of all, my students LOVE it! Just the other day, we did an estimation on the number of pieces of paper in a ream.  Just as I was about to reveal the answer, I told the students “I’ll show you tomorrow”.  This was greeted with a unanimous NOOOOOO! It was great to see the students excited about something math related. 

Finally, and probably the best thing that Twitter has offered, is a connection to other teachers. I’ve gotten a view into the classrooms of teachers from all over.  I’ve been able to see some great things that are going on in classrooms.  I’ve gotten tons of ideas on how to improve my teaching.  Most importantly though, I’ve gotten to see and hear that I’m doing things correctly.  That I’m going about teaching in the correct manner.  Twitter has rejuvenated me, and made me excited to go in and teach and try new things.  I’m excited to get the chance to share some of my ideas, and hopefully return the favor. 

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Here goes nothing — Finding that teachable moment..

So i’m new at this blogging thing and just got myself involved in the MTBoS recently.  This is my first post, and I know I was supposed to follow Shah’s prompt, but I started talking today about a question I had that led to a teachable moment and got excited enough to post about it. 

First off, my name is Hunter, I teach 8th grade math, and I am by no means a professor.  I used to have my students call me by a different name every week (depending on what I wanted to be — Jedi Patton and Post Master Inspector General Patton was my favorite) and professor stuck because the students liked the alliteration.  I’m in my 6th year of teaching and to be honest, with the curriculum change, this year has made me question what I do.  

In my Algebra 2 class we are working on parent functions so that students can place a set of data in the correct family, model its behavior, and use that to make accurate predictions.  We were working on a problem about wave height and wind speed — One of the last questions is “Why might comparing wave height and wind speed lead to inaccurate results?” – The places this question led us was awesome.  We got in to correlation coefficients, underlying causation, does more than just wind speed create waves. I had students wondering does temperature cause larger waves since Hawaii has large waves. I got to talk about tsunami’s and energy transfer.  Why we don’t see tsunami’s when they are further off in the ocean.  Why do Earthquakes cause large waves.  Does a butterfly’s wings in Japan cause a HUGE wave here in the States? Why the graph “bends down and starts to flatten”. Would a linear graph be an accurate predictor? How energy needed for a large wave is much greater than energy needed for a small wave.  A co-teacher of mine happens to be an avid surfer and was able to answer the questions I couldn’t (like why Hawaii has larger waves). I had them excited about a problem for parent functions and eventually was able to tie it all back into what our objective was.  

Anyway, this got me thinking about how teachable moments are missed EVERYDAY by teachers.  Our conversation included very little about parent functions, but I had the students excited to learn and engaged in an intelligent, thoughtful conversation. And by the end of the lesson we covered everything needed for parent functions. I try to take every teachable moment I can and teach them about ANYTHING. Life, math, science, myself, etc.  In the long run, I find teaching them about anything makes them more excited to learn anything.  It kind of put teaching into perspective.  Find a way to teach a topic that will force students to “create” a teachable moment for you.