How to Promote Yourself

I received an e-mail from a blogger who is unsure about how to promote themselves as a math blogger.

As I was writing a reply, I thought that there might be some other people who were wondering the same thing. We've already covered this before (see #7) but maybe since the blogging initiative we might need a refresher.

I've found that the best way to promote myself is to be proactive.

1. Set a blogging goal for yourself so that you are consistently putting out new material. Tell yourself you will blog once a week or four times a month, etc. It took me about two years to get a regular following of blog readers. Don't give up, even if you're sure that no one in the world is reading your blog. Keep going. When you do start to get followers, you want to have something for them to dig into and read.

2. Participate in the blogging world by reading and commenting on other people's blogs. By putting yourself out there people will start to click through and find your blog.

3. When you feel like you have absolutely nothing to say, share a resource or write about something that happened in class. People will either give you advice on how to make it better or steal your idea because it's already good. My blog followers majorly picked up when my posts went from random ramblings and venting to sharing a resource, idea, or activity.

4. Add pictures to your blog posts. By doing this, you add visual interest as well as giving a peek into your classroom. Reading about an activity is always more enjoyable if you can see how it actually played out.

5. Don't try to be anyone but you. Don't mimic anyone else or say what you think is the right thing. Write about what is important and interesting to you. Write about what matters. Write with your own voice and your own style.

6. Participate in a meme like #made4math or #myfavfriday. This motivates you to actively blog as well as becoming a regular contributor to a meme that serveral groups of people are reading. Here is a list of other math blog memes for inspiration.

7. Read Kate's post.

Good luck!


Made 4 Math #24 City Design Project

Recently finished up a unit on parallel lines and transversals and used this as an alternative assessment. I found this four years ago somewhere and have modified it and added reflection questions to it. I have no idea where I found this so let me know if I can give credit to somebody.

Until then, I'm taking partial credit. :)

I used a checklist to grade because I was too lazy to create a nicely done rubric.

Here are some student samples:


Using UDL to Set Clear Goals

My current (and final!) grad class is on Systematic Approaches to Instruction and we are currently discussing Universal Design for Learning. I will be posting some notes and excerpts from our readings. This excerpt comes from Chapter 5 of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age which can be found here: http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes/

Following a plan that is based on an outcome-rather than one that is more concerned with the precise steps necessary to reach that outcome-is the surest way to preserve the outcome when external conditions change.

Goals that are too highly specified limit the possible strategies for reaching them, thus suppressing creative solutions and limiting the number of people who can even attempt to attain the goals.

We believe the key to reconciling standards with student diversity is a careful examination of the standards themselves-first to determine the true purpose of a particular standard, and then to separate that purpose from the methods for attaining it. If the goal statement reflects its true purpose, it can work for an entire class made up of diverse learners. The means, or approaches, can then be individualized.

If the woodworking instructor had only a handsaw and pencil (the woodshop equivalent of traditional, inflexible instructional media and materials), he might find it very difficult to shift set and reinterpret the goal so that all of his students could make progress. However, if he had a range of modern tools to work with (the equivalent of UDL's flexible media), he could broaden the goal from "master cutting wood with a handsaw" to "cutting wood" or "learning basic carpentry,"-two outcomes that better represent his true purpose. All students could work toward these broader goals, using whatever tools suit them best, and all could strive toward levels
of competency that represent individual progress.

Mr. Hernandez might restate the goal more generally: "Students will collect information from a variety of sources." This rewording separates the goal from the methods for attaining it, broadening the options for the entire class. Patrick, instead of having to lower his sights because of difficulty accessing a particular medium, could rely on scaffolds and supports to achieve the same goal as his peers.

Standards that ask students to identify "who, what, when, and where" prioritize the learning of specific content. This is the domain of recognition networks

Standards that ask students to learn "how" to do something emphasize skills and strategies, the province of strategic networks.

Less common (but we believe, just as important) are the goals that emphasize the value and importance of ideas and connections to students' lives, the "why" of learning, the domain of affective networks.

This standard focuses on process and is rooted in strategic networks. Because the content is not specified and is not key to this particular standard, we could increase students' engagement by encouraging them to select content that interests them and setting the challenge at individually appropriate levels.

For some students, at some times, it may be more important to build engagement than to attempt to develop knowledge or skills. Balancing these three networks as we develop goals is in part a fine art.

Csikszentmihalyi (1997) calls this state "flow" and explains that it's only possible when the level of challenge is just right:
Flow tends to occur when a person's skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable. . . . When goals are clear, feedback relevant, and challenges and skills are in balance, attention becomes ordered and fully invested. Because of the total demand on psychic energy, a person in flow is completely focused. (pp. 30-31)
This state of flow is also noted by Malone (1981) in his studies of video games, in which the challenge escalates as players develop skill, so that they're always playing just above their current level of competence. The video game Lode Runner, for example, includes more than 100 levels, with each level slightly harder than the level beneath it. Mastery of one level opens the door to the next; the difference between successive levels is small, presenting a highly motivating challenge. This same kind of incremental challenge can foster engagement in the classroom. 
When a goal is clear, our strategic networks can devise many different ways to reach it

 What flexible media is available for math content?

Rose, D.H. & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Association for Curriculum and Development http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes/