Tweet, Connect, Repeat

I am talking about Twitter at the NCTM Regionals in Nashville, TN.  Here are the links referred to in my talk.

Read more about the #MTBoS (MathTwitterBlogosphere).

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Read more about the MTBoS

Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere

mentor3First off – if you have ever thought about blogging, and really want to JUMP ALL IN, then sign up for the Explore the MTBoS blogging initiative.  We will even provide you with an experienced blogger from the MTBoS to mentor you!  It’s only four blog posts, and starts in January.  We also would love more mentors!  Please join us!  🙂

Join Twitter!

Don’t be an egg!  Add a picture and personalize your profile so other teachers will know you are serious and want to follow you back!  Add what subjects you teach and any interests that you may have.

Twitter Guides – Must reads for new and experienced tweeters

Twitter Essentials



TMC – People Just Like Me!

I just spent five of the most amazing days of my life at “Twitter Math Camp 2012” or #TMC12.  I have been anxious to blog about it since I came home.  However, I have also been simply overwhelmed with all that it was.  I doubt that I can convey to any reader the enormity of this experience, or how much it has changed me and help me grow as a teacher.  I feel like the best way for interested teachers to get a true sense of what  #TMC12 really was about, is to read all of our posted experiences and quilt them together (links to other blogs at end).

When trying to explain this conference to my non-teaching friends, I tell them.  “Think about the best teachers that you ever had.  Put them all in one room.  Ask them to all tell you their best ideas and strategies.  Listen in awe.  Take tons of notes.  Learn from the best.”  This was a meeting of the most creative, innovative, and inspired educators that I have ever been privileged enough to know.  Everything said this week was important, and relevant, and will directly help me with my students this year.  In fact, I will be lucky if I can even try out a fourth of the things that I leaned about at Twitter Math Camp.  These teachers are doing amazing things in the classroom.

How was I lucky enough to be part of this?  I am an impassioned educator who loves to talk about teaching math, all the time.  Just ask my family, I drive them crazy.  Thankfully, I found a bevy of great folks on Twitter to talk about teaching math, 24/7.  Since I found them a couple of years ago, we have talked practically non-stop about teaching math, planned lessons together, given each other great ideas, participated in book studies, and generally just supported each other through the thick and thin of teaching.  I love to talk to them because they love to teach as much, if not more, than I do.  They are always working, planning, wondering, and thinking up new ideas for their students and their classrooms.  They are all brilliant, and fun to talk to as well!  So much fun in fact, that we all started talking about getting together, to meet, in real life.  It started out almost like a joke, and I pushed hard for a cruise.  I even made a wiki page for the cruise!  But, time passed and we went back to our crazy, hectic, teacher lives.  At least until two amazing teachers, Lisa and Shelli, actually decided to do something about it.  Thus, #TMC12 was born.

I have been to multiple conferences in my many years of teaching.  This was by far the best PD (professional development) that I have ever attended.  What made #TMC12 so much different, so much better?  The key was that this was a teacher’s conference, by us, for us.  We knew what we needed.  We cut straight to the point in our presentations.  There was no wasted time.  I appreciated that and really felt like these amazing teachers are my people.  They understand me and knew what I needed.  They don’t think I am weird for wanting to talk about teaching all the time.  They can’t wait to discuss a great idea as well.  And we never stopped talking about teaching.  We talked about it over breakfast, all day long, at lunch, dinner, and even when we were hanging out at night.  And we had so much fun at night!  After a whole day of cramming our brains full or math and teaching ideas, we loved hanging out together even more at night.  But we never tired of talking about teaching!  We could be in the middle of a song, have an idea, and stop singing to talk about it immediately.  One verse later, we would jump right back in to singing (or dancing) again.  We even talked about education up until the very last minute, when we waited, together, for our departing flights in the airport.  Education was our undercurrent.

I learned more in these 5 days that I have in a year of reading blogs.  At the end of each session, poor Lisa had to cut us off.  We were so excited about each presenters ideas that we would have talked for hours.  My educational highlights for the week included:

  • Talking about how students learn, developing new lesson ideas, and learning new ways to present slope with the Math 1 folks.
  • Learning about many more uses for whiteboards. (Mistake camp).
  • Daily Favorite Things sessions (which will continue through the year via blogs – YEAH!)
  • Developing ideas for how video can be used to improve the classroom instead of just  “flipping” it.
  • Collaborating post-session with multiple teachers about the best way to represent integer subtraction.
  • Many side conversations about homework
  • Giving ownership back to the students including numerous ways to get students talking about math and working together in math class.
  • Interactive Notebook Nirvana
  • Meeting people (not related to me), that had actually read my blog.
  • Discovering (in the airport) that even teachers I greatly admire wonder if they are good teachers.  It made me feel so much better about my teaching and my failures.
  • Technology, technology, technology.  I may never even have a chance to try all of the amazing new websites that I learned about!  I wish I had taken better notes (thanks Rachel).
  • Math club collaboration
  • Marshmallow guns shoot much harder (and farther) than you think.
  • Having FUN in presentations with the presenters (even if it was off topic or off color sometimes) 
  • Jinx Tweets!  When people would think about the same thing, at the same time, and tweet it.  It was unreal how much this happened.  Our brains work alike.

My personal highlights:

  • Bonding with people immediately even though I was so nervous about going and talking to people I had never met IRL.
  • Finally meeting everyone that I had been tweeting for years with and discovering that they were all exactly like their tweets!
  • Just that feeling that you have when you are surrounded by people that totally get you, and still like you, for who you REALLY are.  
  • Doing “The Squirm” with my math class song mentor, Sean.  He even offered to write me a song for my class (love).  
  • Finding several other teachers that wear their purse cross body, on the right side.
  • Making stupid jokes that people laughed at bc they have my same weird sense of humor.
  • Feeling comfortable being as loud as I wanted to be.  (Thank you all for putting up with me).
  • Having an enormous group of people who also sing at random just because they hear two words that makes them think of a song. (Actually, having tons of people who would just sing with me, at random, whenever I started singing.  I didn’t even have to ASK!)
  • Going around in a giant group – EVERYWHERE.  
  • Square dancing on the sidewalk in the middle of lunch just because we thought of it.
  • Teaching a movie theater full of people to dance before a movie – and everyone did since my friends were all into it.
  • A whole world of people that are as obsessed with office supply stores as I am!  
  • Dressing up like Sam 
  • Getting less sleep than I did in college because I never wanted to stop talking to these amazing people about math and teaching!
  • Generally just being around people that are CRAZY fun, more crazy fun than I ever thought people could be.
  • TWEET ME MAYBE! (thanks for the extra credit Sean)

Things Most Frequently Heard at #TMC12

My only regret was that even though I stretched every day to the limit, I did not have enough time to talk in depth with all of the people that I wanted to talk to.  Everywhere I looked fascinating conversations were happening all around me.  It was almost impossible not to get completely immersed and remember to move around.  I’ll definitely be coming back to #TMC13 to pick up where I left off.

I felt like I was with people that “got me”.  And I loved that many of the Twitter Math Campers even thought the way that I did.   In fact, if I said (rather sang) this blog post title out loud (TMC – People Just LIke Me!), I now know a few people, IN REAL LIFE, who would sing, “You’re down with OPP, Ya you know me!” in their heads, if not OUT LOUD, with me.  They are smart, fun, quirky, real, and down to earth people who truly care about other people and are willing to sacrifice fame and fortune to change the world.  They care about education, they are serious about their jobs, and they love their students.  They are an amazing group of math teachers.

If you are a math teacher out there who wants MORE, then I implore you to explore Twitter and start reading blogs. We will help (Twitter/Blog newbie website coming soon)!  In fact, if you don’t tweet, you should definitely read the words to this song that Sean, Rachel, Sam, Dave, and Bowman wrote at #TMC12.  It should resonate with you.  We want to help you!  So, “Tweet Me Maybe” at @jreulbach!

Tweet Me Maybe

by Rachel Kernodle, Sean Sweeney, Sam Shah, David Peterson and Bowman Dickson

I sat alone in my class,
Hoping my students would pass,
Prepping was kicking my ass
But help was on the way

I started searching the net,
To find a way to connect
Found teachers I’d never met
and I was on my way

Dan’s blog was poppin’,
G-Reader, feed not stoppin’
Each day, I would drop-in
Guess it’s time for hop in!

Hey, I just found you, And this is crazy,
But here’s my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

It’s hard to reach out, Please don’t flame me,
But here’s my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

Hey, I just found you, And this is crazy
But here’s my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

It’s hard to reach out, Please don’t flame me,
But here’s my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

Oh holy crap can it be,
Nowak responded to me,
Blogging math celebrity,
She’s twitter royalty

I beg, and borrow and steal
No reinventing the wheel,
What are these urges I feel?
Nerdy math sex appeal

Hal-lo-ween was awesome
Dull worksheets, I could toss ‘em
My, i-deas could blossom

Now it’s time for Math Camp, baby!

Hey, I just met you, all in person.
Twitter Math Camp, this was the first one

It’s hard to teach right, in i-so-laaaaaation,
So here’s some PD, just like va-ca-tion

Hey, I just met you, all in person.
Twitter Math Camp, this was the first one
It’s hard to teach right, in i-so-laaaaaaation,
So here’s some PD, just like va-ca-tion

Before I came onto your sites,
I must’ve taught so bad,
I must’ve taught so bad,
I must’ve taught so so bad

Before I came onto your sites
I must’ve taught so bad
and you should know that
It was so, so sad

I loved free pizza, and the brew-ry.
You know my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

Ci-ty Muse-um, or the Card’s game,
So tweet me sometime, I won’t be too lame

So, thank you Shelli, thank you Li-sa.
Don’t want to go home – so glad to meet ya

Now that it’s coming to an end
we’ll miss you so bad
we’ll miss you so bad
we’ll miss you so, so bad

Before you came into our lives
We must’ve taught so bad
And you should know that.

So tweet me, maybe?

Other Blog Posts About TMC12 – These are the blogs that have been written as of today.  If you have written a blog about TMC12, please put the link in the comments so I won’t miss you!

FLAG – Fix Learning And Grow

Addressing the needs of students when they struggle haunts me.  I am not only talking about students who may be working below grade, but any student who begins to stumble on a concept.  At times even my best students have trouble on new topics.  Currently, I use a Concepts Checklist, which is an altered version of SBG (Standards Based Grading) to identify this.  However, I would ideally like to give additional support to students when they FIRST begin to have trouble, instead of trying to remediate when they are already behind or completely lost.

I read about using “red flags” in Robyn Jackson’s book “How To Support Struggling Students” while doing a book study with my amazing PLN (Professional Learning Network) of mathematics educators on Twitter.  I immediately loved the idea of the red flag, but was worried about the negative connotation of a student receiving a “red flag”.  I do not want the flag to be seen as a negative, a sign that a student is “not good” at math or “in trouble”.  To give the flag a positive connotation, I decided to come up with a positive acronym for FLAG.  Thanks to @fourkatie via Twitter, Fix Learning And Grow was born.

I do not plan to use FLAGs for purely academic reasons.  I would like to give students a FLAG in any area where they can “Fix and Grow”.  I plan on handing out flags for incomplete or missing homework, recurring misunderstandings in class, sloppy/incomplete notebooks, and excessive absences and tardies if they are having trouble making up the work.

UPDATE:  I originally included disruptive behavior, but after some insightful comments, I rethought that and will NOT be including disruptive behavior in the FLAG system.  I want to FLAG to focus on academics.

As teachers we do not have much time to implement an exhaustive new program.  It must require low maintenance from me in order for it to be long-lasting.  Thus, I am organizing the FLAG program to encourage independent learning.  When I identify a need, I will place a flag on a students paper (or notebook).  I will write the name of the FLAG on the flag.  It is then the students responsibility to address their FLAG.  The student will visit the FLAG page on our Wiki to read about their FLAG and see the steps they need to follow.  The FLAGs are only temporary, and once they have addressed their need, their FLAG can be “waived”.

I think that this will save me time because a FLAG is quick and easy to write and hand out (post-it flags).  I do not have to worry if an issue is serious enough to warrant a “talk” with a student or initiate a parent contact.  I do not have to come up with “fixes” for the problem each time I do talk to a student.  FLAG is a system that is already in place and ready to address many student needs, from the minor to the major.

I am still developing this idea and the overall FLAG system so I would LOVE any thoughts and feedback.  Read more on my FLAG page on the wiki.  Please help me make FLAGs better!