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MTBoS Mission 3: Collaborative Websites

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I’m not a math teacher (okay, this year, I do have one pre-algebra student), but it’s not my focus or my training. That being said, I’m having a lot of fun running through the MTBoS with a crazy number of math teachers. I’m looking forward to Sundays for the new missions. For the third MTBoS mission, some of the suggested websites didn’t exactly pertain to me (as I’m not a math teacher). But there were two I really liked (I know we were supposed to choose one, but I got hooked on two). I chose to look through ideas I do believe in: possibility and positivity.

Here’s Dan Meyer‘s 101qs. Kind of a source for potential Three-Act Tasks or lots of other math questions. After poking through, and responding to, the first few tens of pictures (they’re kinda addicting), I thought that I might be messing with the math-y-ness of the project: I mostly asked how things worked rather than math questions. Then I realized, hey, that’s just fine. Those are the questions that pop in my head first, and why would they of any less use to math teachers? Perhaps I’m even helping to continue conversations, since my take on videos is probably pretty different from math teachers’ takes. (At least, this is what I’ll tell myself.) Now, I’m thinking of it as a source for science questions. Because science is really math (or is it the other way around?)

I already use a very large number of videos for chemistry and physics (especially physics) to have kids tease out the science in everyday stuff. I keep this list in delicious, where you can sort all the bookmarks by tags. My “weird” tag is used with surprising frequency. My delicious page here.

There’s a lot of new research that says positivity increases productivity, makes your marriage happier, and generally makes you a more pleasant human to be around. It’s not about forgetting the past or brushing over poor results and bad days, but rather focusing attention on the good things in life, even the almost-too-easy random acts of kindness. Not quite an attitude thing or a glass-half-full thing, but just a change in personal emphasis.

One of the things I took from teacher training was to create a file marked “Things for a bad day” or “Keepers” or something like that. In there, you put all of the notes from students and parents that you get, so that on bad days, you can go to the file drawer and remind yourself that things will improve.

So with that… here’s One Good Thing. I needed this site this week. For a bunch of personal and professional reasons, this week largely stunk. This is the digital file drawer of good experiences, as well as a good reminder that there must be something, something that happened during the day that registers on the good-o-meter. My One Good Thing for the day is planning for the liquid nitrogen demonstrations on Friday… big, fat, juicy lab planning makes me happy.


8 responses »

  1. Ha! I agree, I also tend to ask the “how does it work” questions over the more mathsy questions on 101qs. I think that some of the Estimation 180 questions would be useful in science classes too, I also figured estimation 180 questions could be a way of bringing up the topic of uncertainties in measurements.

    • I was just looking at your Estimation 180 entry… neato 🙂

      I do a quick couple of lessons on estimating things at the beginning of the year, and try to have kids “predict” approximate answers before calculations (especially when we’re looking at scientific notation, because large numbers scare them). But they all have a list of 5 objects/body parts that they can use to estimate lengths, weights, (etc.) with, and I can check them through their lab notebooks.

  2. I think you’re absolutely right that it’s perfectly ok to respond to the pictures with non-mathematical questions. I’m sure it will broaden the questions and make them even richer. I also agree about the importance of storing away good memories for the bad times. Hope your week is improving.

  3. I am generally a positive person, but there are just some days where you focus so much on the negative that you put yourself in the downward spiral. I like the idea of thinking about the good things that happen, but to put them in writing and share with the world, that’s got to be amazing.

  4. I absolutely think that 101qs is for stimulating questions – math, measurement, sheer curiosity, whatever – don’t approach it as a math assignment. I think you should approach it as a curiosity engine

  5. One Good Thing is one of my faves too, although so many of the links they posted are great – visualpatterns, 101qs. But I loved this line in your post: “My One Good Thing for the day is planning for the liquid nitrogen demonstrations on Friday… big, fat, juicy lab planning makes me happy.” I feel the same way about Geometry explorations!


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