Can my professional learning network save me from becoming an old, boring math teacher?

I think it’s happening…

I’m turning into that old, boring teacher.

As I finish my first year teaching freshman algebra, I realize this past week was not stellar.  What exactly makes me think I’ve given up and resorted to the routine rhythms of teaching? Well… I made my students take notes and complete worksheets, followed by more notes and another worksheet.

This is not what effective teachers do. They don’t settle for the same old methods of teaching they grew up with. Effective teachers ensure their students aren’t just told the information they need to learn, they help students engage, using manipulatives or technologically driven lessons.

Rather than giving up and letting this truly become my identity as an educator, I recognize my professional learning network will save me. My MAT technology class has shown me how to improve and leverage the influence of other effective teachers. I click one link that leads to another link which leads to another link. It is exciting to see how many resources are available to support teachers in technology.  Youtube videos, blogs, organizations, and much more.

For example:

Conrad Wolfram discussing how we should be use computers as we teach math. Plus, a TedTalk makes anyone hip!

Conrad helps teachers make math more practical and vocational. He discusses how we can allow students to interact with math rather than get tied down to the calculations of the math. They can use computers to do the calculations for the higher math so they will be able to go beyond what they could of done on their own.

I began my journey of network by liking and following pages on Facebook after I learned what different acronyms stood for. Professional Organizations like MAA(Mathematical Association of America), AMS(American Mathematical Society), and NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). I ended my Facebook journey by sending two messages to math teachers, asking their recommendation of which organizations to be connected to. I realized that I wanted a more refined method to liking and following Professional Math Organizations. I did learn that many of the mathematical organizations had research and blogs about teaching math with technology.

Other blogs and resources

Ellisa Miller’s Blog misscalcul8 makes me happy! Her post about mental math in middle school led to a resource called Estimation 180 tasks.  Estimation task has partnered with Desmos, which is a fantastic website that brings technology into the classroom using real life tasks like using parabolas to predict if a basketball will go into the hoop.

Ed Week Webinars

I still need to research the Education Week website.  It looks promising.  There are free webinars but it looks they are free if you have a membership which is $29 a month for a full time student.  The math topics looked interesting but this website has all subjects. I have liked them on Facebook.

Math & Technology in the Classroom

This is a fantastic Wikispace from a college classroom. This is overflowing with resources, games, visualization, brain development for math, and math apps for mobile devices (that will come in handy for project 2). I know this resource is ten years old, but it feels like going to a second hand store digging through the bins to see if you can find a jewel. There are bound to be a few. The only draw back about this resources is that Wikispace is being ended for classrooms on July 31st.  If you want to use this resource, use it quickly.

If I actually apply what I’m learning in this course, it is possible that I can break out of the mold I’m slipping into. I don’t have to resign myself to being a fuddy-duddy teacher. I can be hip and cool, like those kids with their fancy phones, and use “The Power Point” and “Internets,” too!

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