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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why this blog has changed my career.

I cannot express how much better I am feeling about my career this year. I have enjoyed teaching before but this year has been fantastic. I owe a lot to my decision to take a workshop in modeling last summer, but by far the best part has been this blog. I originally started it with the thought that I would be able to reflect on the changes I am making this year sort of as a diary of change. I did not think that anyone would actually read it. At least not right away. I hoped that maybe someday another teacher starting modeling would find it helpful.

But the blogosphere doesn't really work that way. Somehow (and I'm still not sure how this happened) people started stumbling along this small place on some random server and started making comments. From this I have discovered other teachers doing amazing things. I have had more professional development in these last 4 months than I ever have in my entire 14 years of education. I have truly enjoyed the discussions. I am grateful on a daily basis for the challenges to my thinking that has stretched me as an educator. The best part is that I have found that the things that have bugged me about teaching have bugged others as well. And they have started to find solutions that I probably would never have had the guts to try on my own.

So here is is a list of shout-outs and thank-yous to the bloggers who have been the most influential to me at the end of 2010.

1- Steve Dickie at his blog FLOSS. This is actually a shared first. He represents all of my colleagues and instructors at my modeling workshop. They challenged me a ton and we learned together how awesome a classroom can be. We have been able to bounce ideas off each other and share in the transition to our new teaching lives. (I would include the rest of you guys if you'd start blogging. Jim did you get one up yet?)

2- Frank Noschese at his well-deserved Edublog winning site Action-Reaction. Frank was the first stranger to comment on my blog. His blog has led to many late nights for me. His was the doorway to all of the other amazing blogging educators. It was like taking the red pill and entering the true world of the matrix. His comment made a great journey even better.

3- John Burk at Quantum Progress. John's blog is amazing. His writing is excellent and well thought out. I am always excited when his newest entry is posted because I know that I will be learning something new. Like today's post. I watched a little of his Metic video. (Okay I watched the whole thing.) What did I learn? This little thing called the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. I have been on my soapbox with my students all year about this not really knowing how to describe it. How can I get my kids to want to grow as learners. Now that I know the term I have found tons of stuff on it that would be perfect for my kids to read.

4- Dan Meyer at dy/dan. It all started with his TED talk for me. His ideas about math reform are terrific. As is his WCYDWT idea. Only on Dan's blog will you see a question if the separate flusher button on a two/flush toilet is mathematically consistent or why a spreader bar is where it is on a ladder or even when will Vermont run out of license plates. Great stuff. I need to train my brain to see those questions too. But the biggest thing from Dan? Be less helpful. It's my new motto. My kids are finally starting to buy in now too. One student the other day came up to me and said, "I'm really confused and stuck. I know you won't tell me the answer, but could you ask me some questions?" Yes. I can do that.

5- Shawn Cornally writes Think Thank Thunk. His blog is where I first stumbled across the whole idea of Standards-based grading. If someone asked me what it was I would send them there first. Probably the best resource for this for the novice. Once you've read through that check out the SBG carnival that has been going on!

Those are my top five right now. There are several that are on the bubble right now and will assuredly need thank you's in another 4 months. Thanks again for all you have done for me and my students!


  1. Bryan, Thanks so much for the incredible compliment. I feel like I could say the exact same thing about making the decision to jump into blogging this year. Blogging has exponentiated my growth as a teacher in a way I could have scarcely imagined. I can remember reading Dan's Blog from years ago, thinking how cool he was, and how much I was getting from reading it, but it wasn't until I started to blog for myself (and comment on other blogs) that I really realized that the crazy growth comes from participating in the conversation (hmm, that's a lesson for my students, too).

    Also, I used your slinky demo with my kids in an effort to understand the wii accelerometer (I'm going to be writing about this soon), and the kids loved the activity. I was able to stay quiet for about 10 minutes while all they did was make observations. It was a great moment—thanks for the excellent idea.

    And more and more this reminds me that we need to create some sort of "Hey New Science Teacher—welcome to the internet!" landing page or something, so that teachers like me don't have to spend 10 years in the wilderness before making these connections.

  2. Hey thanks for the shout out! I know I'm not really first, too bad Don and Laura don't blog...

    It's kind of funny. I was thinking about doing a similar post. It was just brought to my attention that I've been blogging in some form for just over five years now. I started mainly as a way to keep track of cool stuff and have an easy place to point people to links and such when I gave presentations. But over the years it has helped me grow immensely.

    This whole reflective blogging piece has been great. Feel free to prod me again if I drop the ball.

    Btw, I'll probably have lost of questions for you regarding SBG. I'm still resisting at least until next year. In fact, I've been avoiding reading anything about it lest I be tempted to try and work it in this year. You sir are a braver man than I.