Monday, November 11, 2013

Why I Blog (maybe)

Kate Nowak challenged us to share a few thoughts on blogging as she prepares to be a featured speaker at NCTM. I have a few minutes to share so here it goes.

1. What hooked you on reading the blogs? Was it a particular post or person? Was it an initiative by the nice MTBoS folks? A colleague in your building got you into it? Desperation?
I was hooked on blogs when I discovered I could use things others had created. I discovered that my teaching could improve by learning from others who were humble and honest about the mistakes they made. A close friend of mine who teaches science sent me Dan Meyer's TED talk and my blog reading increased from zero minutes a day to about 240 minutes a day: time-suck!
2. What keeps you coming back? What's the biggest thing you get out of reading and/or commenting?
I keep coming back because I get the opportunity to observe other teachers (even if it's a snapshot) without being in their classroom. Anytime I've been in another teacher's classroom, I've learned so much. It doesn't matter if the teacher was good or bad, I was either learning what to do or what not to do. Reading other blogs is a similar opportunity for professional growth.
3. If you write, why do you write? What's the biggest thing you get out of it?
I write to document things, reflect on things, and share something I'm proud of. If I had time to blog about everything I do, I would. However, it would become white noise for those who take the time time to check in. Therefore, I write about things that stand out to me: great experiences, cool lessons, or things I'm proud of. It's not intended to be perfect. I hope to keep it raw. I'm not the best writer. Somehow, I happen to write a few things that a few people are interested in. That positive energy keeps me going.
Specifically, I blog at two places now: Divisible by 3 and Estimation 180. Divisible by 3 is reserved for all the things I've mentioned above. I blog at Estimation 180 to keep people updated on new estimation challenges I posted and/or any stories behind the challenges. I enjoy when a story is attached to a mathematical experience. 
4. If you chose to enter a room where I was going to talk about blogging for an hour (or however long you could stand it), what would you hope to be hearing from me? MTBoS cheerleading and/or tourism? How-to's? Stories?
From my experience, I enjoy a keynote speaker who is both inspiring and interactive. I like the sessions where the speaker is well-spoken, engaging, inspiring and challenges me as I leave the session to become a better teacher. However, I don't want the entire 60-90 minutes to be spent by them just showing me pictures, videos, quotes, or other things that are one-directional. I also need to be challenged by actually being forced to do math, tasks, or be given the opportunity to explore what they're presenting on. Make it feel like a classroom where I get a healthy mixture of inspiring talk and engaging tasks. Kate, I'd love for you to share the good, the bad, and the ugly about blogging. Then have me get out my internet device (phone, tablet, or computer) and either explore a list of blogs or even create a blog. Put up a list of blogs that do different things. Have me explore them. Give me some questions/tasks:
1. Compare and contrast the blogs.
2. Which blog would you find yourself using most often, least often, never?
3. What kind of blog would you like to create?
4. What suggestions do you have for these people blogging?
5. ...and so on

Give your attendees a Google Form to fill out so you can document the answers. By this point, you've already shared with me your inspiring thoughts on blogging and you're getting me involved. Get me to experience blogging while we have time together. Don't make blogging a homework assignment for your attendees.

Hope that helps. Good luck Kate!

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