A List of Lists

Now is that group-think time of year when everyone makes lists of how they will be better. I am a list lemming, though I also tend to find myself making these kinds of resolutions at other times throughout the year. Most often ’round about the end of May/beginning of June…

I actually began this post in early November, when I was feeling kind of sucky about my teaching. I wrote the following list.

Some Questions I Need to Remember to Ask Myself:

  • How are students building their understanding of this concept?
  • What is the context?
  • When is the right time to remove the context?
  • Do students know why we are practicing this skill?
  • Do students understand how this connects to previous knowledge?
  • Have I asked students to articulate these connections?

In the shower this morning, I was thinking about Big Questions. These are the Big Questions up on the walls in my classroom (note: I didn’t come up with these).

  • What is mathematics?
  • How does mathematics connect to the world around me?
  • What is the pattern?
  • How many ways can I represent it?
  • How am I a mathematician?

I don’t feel like I use these questions very often. I don’t really refer back to them. I wanted to come up with something a little more personalized. So I did.

Big Questions (a work in progress):

  • What story does the math tell?
  • How could I represent this scenario in a different way? (& Which representation tells the story best?)
  • What information do I need to solve this problem?
  • What else can I figure out?

You can see these two lists are different, though there are certainly some common ideas in both (hello, multiple representations!). One of my goals in writing my own set of Big Questions is to create something from this year of teaching that I can bring to my future job(s) regardless of which grade level I’m teaching or what school I am at. I’ve been thinking about Big Questions for a while so it didn’t take me too long to come up with this list (and I didn’t waste too much water in the process).

What I like about both lists is that they are general enough to be used in any math class. I was trying to think about what big ideas and skills do I want students to take with them throughout their lives. And I think my list speaks to that idea.

While I’m in the swing of making lists I might as well make one for my new year’s resolutions. And while I’m at it, why not make two?

Personal Resolutions:

  • Make a quilt.
  • Start observing Meatless Mondays (or some other day of the week)
  • Write something every day.
  • Read 70+ books this year (I put this into the 2012 reading challenge on GoodReads).
  • Bake bread regularly.

Professional Resolutions: 

  • Be more consistent. [This is my always goal. I never do not have this goal. But in my mental space right now, I am thinking of being more consistent with my classroom routines like checking off homework and stuff like that. ]
  • Give more presentations at conferences!

I think that about sums it up. Now that I’ve worn out the bulleted list button on my computer, I may have to relearn how to write in complete paragraphs. I do have one last goal though:

  • Do not leave purse on plane. Again.
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One thought on “A List of Lists

  1. I tried to ‘like’ this post, and was asked for a username and password. Hmm. So I’ll just tell you the old-fashioned way. I liked this post. I’m not big on resolutions, but I like your big questions lists.

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