I am a nerd.
For people that know me in real life, this comes as no surprise. I have always been a nerd. From the time I was able to read, I always had my 'nose stuck in a book' and even as an adult, never ride along in a car without at least one book in my bag. My favorite stores are used book stores and I'm so jealous of my Dallas area friends with their plethora of Half Price Book Stores throughout the DFW Metroplex. When hubby and I go on a road trip, you can be assured that we will stop at every used book store we find, just to browse.
Back in the summer of 2010, I was fairly new to Twitter and just starting to build my PLN. That summer, my Twitter PLN decided we would do an online book club, which really built my professional library and fueled my love of professional literature. We read books by Marzano, Brookhart, Jackson, Small, and so many more. Throughout the past four years, I have purchased and read so many books to help me grow as an educator, but time, as it always does, seems to get in my way. :(
This past year was pretty rough time wise. I had 3 preps, two of which were brand new to me and to our district. I took on several coordinator-ships, which took almost all of my spare time. I would come home at 8 pm or later and literally fall into bed and did not keep up on my reading, chatting, or reflecting. I would purchase a book with all intentions of chatting weekly, but instead I would get caught up in my to-do list and ended up driving home during the chat time.
One evening this spring, the idea of discussing educational articles came up and #EduRead was born. The idea is simple... people suggest an article to read, we advertise it and chat about it on Wednesday evenings. This allows us the flexibility to be absent because we don't have an 8-12 week commitment that a book requires. We can chat about different topics of interest rather than being tied to a specific topic for weeks. All in all, it fulfills my hunger to read and learn, but in a much more manageable way. Each week, the article is posted on the #EduRead blog and after the chat, the archive is also posted. You can see a schedule of future articles on the right, so if one peaks your interest, then you can plan for it.
This Week's Article
This week's #EduRead article is "Faster Isn't Smarter" by Cathy Seeley. This was a deep article for me and I'm really eager to discuss it tonight with the rest of the crowd. (Feel free to join us on Twitter at 8pm Central!) I had heard before about the TIMSS study and how the US lags behind other countries, but I had never really processed the idea of inclusive education vs exclusive education. The US education philosophy is 'education for all', which really creates an unfair comparison to other countries, but what are the untold consequences of that 'education for all' philosophy?
The author mentions that many teachers have reported to her that "students are not willing to try hard problems that they can't immediately see how to solve." I have to agree with this statement. As I look around my classroom, I watch students give up as soon as the answer isn't immediately apparent. I see them "explain" or "justify" their answer with one or two word phrases. I see students barely scratch the surface before declaring that something is "too hard", when they really mean that they are afraid to try and fail. When did society and education instill in our students that failure is bad? Why do they think that they must be perfect the first time they try something? The odd thing is that I don't see this as much in non-educational endeavors. A child does not get on a bicycle and ride perfectly right away... we fall down, scrape our knees, but get up and try again.
When I read an article, I annotate it in order to process and "interact with the text". When I read, I underline things that really speak to me, highlight one or two key statements, and write a lot of notes/questions/comments in the margins. For this article, the main thing that stuck out to me and I highlighted was this statement, "It appears that in the interest of having students succeed, we sometimes spoon-feed our students two much information and ask too little of them in return." In the margin next to it, I put a star and "WOW". This was a statement that really sucker-punched me. I have a tendency to scaffold for my students, but I have a feeling that really, I'm just spoon-feeding them. Instead of letting them struggle, I guide them down the path that I want them to take, which creates a cycle of dependency. :(
My final big thought from this article was about productive struggle in general. The author says, "...sometimes mathematics is hard, and sometimes we have to struggle to figure things out...". As a teacher, when was the last time you struggled? I'm trying to think back in my own situation and honestly, as a teacher, I don't spend time in "productive struggle" like I ask my students to do. My struggles tend to be more focused on how to teach a concept, not the concept itself. This morning, on my daily walk, I spent some time thinking about this as well as a Facebook post that Fawn made a few days ago about meeting new teachers that didn't know the MTBoS existed. I am saddened to think that some teachers stopped being learners when they became teachers. How can we re-introduce that "productive struggle" in our classrooms and in our personal lives?
Please join us tonight at 8pm Central on Twitter... I'd love to hear your thoughts!
And a shout-out to the others who are joining me in the July Challenge! Your support means so much to me! I really enjoyed reading all of your posts yesterday and even if you missed yesterday, join on in! While my personal goal is 31 days, maybe yours is 7 days, or even 1 day.. no matter what, just keep blogging... it's worth it!
The bloggers (so far)
Robin at Flip! Learn! Share
Bridget at Reflections in the Plane
Teresa at GeometryWiz
Sherrie at Middle School Math Rules!
Brooke at Sined, Sealed, Calculated
John at Functions are Fun
Jedidiah at Math Butler
Pam at the radical rational