Does Blogging Help Build Community Within the Classroom? robin Elletson Smithton middle School http://mysocalledmathematicallife.blogspot.com/
How I Got Started My husband went on a business trip and kept a blog of his adventures for our boys back home. He showed me how easy it is to maintain a blog and I started thinking about how I could use this technology to enhance my communication with students outside of my classroom.
The Purpose of My Blog I wanted to show students how regular people interact with mathematics in the real world. I wanted to build a sense of community within my classroom. I wanted to improve my students disposition towards mathematics.
What My Research Suggested Productive disposition refers to the tendency to see sense in mathematics, to perceive it as both useful and worthwhile, to believe that steady effort in learning mathematics pays off, and to see oneself as an effective learner and doer of mathematics. Developing a productive disposition requires frequent opportunities to make sense of mathematics, to recognize the benefits of perseverance, and to experience the rewards of sense making in mathematics. Adding It Up p. 116
What My Research Suggested The more mathematical concepts they [the students] understand, the more sensible mathematics becomes. Mathematical proficiency goes beyond being able to understand, compute, solve, and reason. It includes a disposition toward mathematics that is personal. Mathematically proficient people believe that mathematics should make sense, that they can figure it out, that they can solve mathematical problems by working hard on them, and that becoming mathematically proficient is worth the effort. Adding It Up p. 116
Examples of Entries Blog posts from my so called mathematical life
How Much Did My Dinner Cost? My Task: To take these items and make Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup. Your Task: To figure out how much dinner costs. The details: Granny Smith Apples 0.81 lb @ $1.48/lb (but I only used one!) Sweet Potato 2.8 lbs @ $1.28/lb Yellow Onions 0.45lb @ $0.79/lb Celery $1.18 for a bunch, I only used 1 of the 10 stalks The following recipe will make enough to serve 8 people. Dane and I were the only ones enjoying this masterpiece and we each had one serving. How much did last night's dinner cost? The recipe (From Real Simple/October 2008) I know, I'm a little behind the times... 3 lbs sweet potatoes 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 celery stalk, sliced 1 apple thinly sliced salt & pepper Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prick the potatoes with a fork, place on baking sheet, and roast until tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and apple and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Halve the potatoes, scoop out the flesh, and add to the saucepan. Add 6 cups of water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook until heated through, 8 to 10 minutes. Puree the soup in an blender. Work in batches. Add water, if necessary, to reach the desired consistency.
When Will I Be Finished Grading? It just took me 32 minutes to grade Core 1's warm-up papers. There are 22 students in this class. There are 20 kids in Core 2, 20 in Core 3, and 24 in Core 4. Two kids were absent today. How much longer will I be grading? It's 5:29pm, will I finish in time to watch the beginning of "So You Think You Can Dance" at 7:00pm?
Snack Mix Alex is taking snack mix to his sleep over party. Can you figure out how much one serving costs? Here are the details: Cheese Nips $1.98 Hy-Vee Fruit Rings $1.72 Hy-Vee Rice Cereal $2.18 Teddy Grahams $2.99 Goldfish $2.19 Peanuts $4.48 Pretzels $2.50 Candy Corn $2.58 M& M's $3.77 Skittles $2.67 I used 2 cups of all the ingredients, except for the Rice Cereal and Cheese Nips. (Those each have 4 cups). If a serving size is 1/2 cup how many servings did I make and how much would each cost?
Smurf Pizza Last night at dinner, Dane told the boys these pizzas were "Smurf-sized". You know how I feel about accurate proportional reasoning, so I had to disagree with him. These pizzas have a diameter of about 6 cm and that seemed like it was the wrong size to me. Dane argued that no one can really know because we don't know how tall the Smurfs are in the cartoon. I argued that we have plenty of benchmarks to judge the height of the Smurfs. After all, Gargamel isn't a giant and he has a normal sized cat. Can you help us settle our debate? Here is a link to some very important research: Smurf Wiki Smurf.com
Who is the Desk Duck? The Desk Duck comes with me on my many adventures. (Mostly math conferences and family vacations.) While we travel, he keeps in touch with the students back home by blogging and sharing his mathematical experiences. Students have a chance to talk with the duck through comments that are posted to the blog.
Sample Questions Washington DC: Last night we took a taxi from the Lincoln Memorial to Chinatown. The first mile cost $3.00, each additional mile cost $1.50. Our fare was $10.50. How many miles did we travel? How much would a 15 mile trip cost? Write a general rule so you can find the cost for any number of miles. If I have $7.00, how far can I travel? San Diego: Mrs. Powell and I walked down to the bay this morning and found this giant version on the photograph: V-J Day in Times Square. I'm 5' 3/4'' Can you figure out the height of the solider? San Francisco: The picture with the sign says that one of the giant cables is 24,500 tons. I only weigh 2 ounces. How many of my friends would it take to equal that?There is some glare on the sign and it actually says that the main span is 4200 feet long. It also says that 80,000 miles of wire was used in total. How many times could that wire cross the bridge?
Results I Gathered From My Students • Blog Use By The Numbers: • 85% of my students reported having access to the internet at home. • 73% said they had visited the homework blog outside of the classroom. • 56% said they had visited “My So Called Mathematical Life” outside of the classroom. • 50% students reported sharing the blogs with someone outside of our classroom (parent, sibling, friend, etc.)
How Do My Students Feel About Our Classroom Community? • Quotes from the kids: • “Often, we [the students] wonder why we are learning math. We feel like we will never use it in our “real life”. The classroom blogs have helped me enjoy the math we are learning. It helps me see some of the math that occurs in the real world. • I feel like the blog has made us bond somewhat closer, not just to each other, but with other cores as well. • The class and teacher are open and ready to listen to what I have to say.
More Student Thoughts on Our Blog and Classroom Community • Quotes from the kids: • I think that this [the blog] is a very good idea, one thing I particularly enjoyed was the video about how math and nature were connected. It’s important to see how math and life are connected. Sometimes it’s easy to compartmentalize school into this one part of your brain and you don’t use that part of your brain when experiencing life. It’s good for kids to see how the formulas and stuff we learn can be part of the world we see around us, and how amazing the world can be. • Math is all around us, the blog opened our eyes to that. • At the beginning of the year, I hated math But, I started checking the blog and thought that was very interesting. Math is everywhere, even outside the classroom. Now math is better for me.
What I Have Learned Discussion between students about big mathematical ideas can be time consuming to foster. With the blog, I’ve found a way to keep the math conversation going when the kids leave my room. As I’ve worked with my students, I’ve pushed the thinking to elicit solutions that have greater clarity and precision. As I learned how to blog, I shared the experience with my students. Taking the students with me on my blogging journey helped them to see an adult question, reason, and produce with perseverance and purpose.
My Beliefs All students can and should be mathematically proficient. Efforts to improve students’ mathematics learning should be driven by the needs of individual students. Effort should be made to educate the whole student. Drawing from experiences outside the classroom and allowing parents to partner with their child’s understanding of the world of math.