Twitter Tasting Menu – February 2020

Each month I share a selection of articles, blog posts, and/or videos that caught my attention over the past month. If a resource resonates with you, all I ask is that you share it with at least one other colleague. Help spread the learning!

No, teachers, you don’t have to consume yourself to light the way for others

In this post from Angela Watson, she debunks 10 of the most annoying—and dangerous—teacher platitudes

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Being a good teacher does NOT mean consuming yourself. I love the way a teacher named Chavie reframed this in the comments: “How about, ‘Good teachers are like a candle, because they can enable others to shine without shining any less themselves’?” I love that twist, and it’s so true — one candle can be used to light another, without losing any of its own flame or light. It’s a matter of sharing the fire. A candle doesn’t have to be completely consumed to be useful. In fact, the opposite is true.”

Calendar Time Must Die

In this blog post from Amy Parks, she makes the case for why teachers should stop doing calendar time. I appreciate that she not only provides her arguments against this routine but she also shares ideas about routines and activities that are a much better use of students’ precious time during the school day.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“As a former primary grades teacher, I do understand its appeal. It’s lovely to have a routine to start the day so children know what to expect; therefore, the daily challenge of planning five hours of meaningful instruction becomes a bit more manageable. I’m not arguing we should get rid of routines, only that we should be a bit more selective.”

Our Day in K

In this blog post, Katie Keier, co-author of the book Catching Readers Before They Fall, shares a typical day in her Kindergarten class. I always appreciate windows into other classrooms to hear how other teachers utilize their time and organize instruction.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Our workshops follow the foundation established by Donald Graves, Mary Ellen Giacobbe, Lucy Calkins, Nancie Atwell, Katie Wood Ray and others, with the key elements of: time, choice, response, identity & community. They have a predictable structure and begin with a short focus lesson, move into independent workshop time and end with coming back together as a community to share. But this is all done in a way that is appropriate for kindergarteners. And not all kindergarteners (since we know children are vastly different), but the kindergarteners I have at this moment. Playful, joyful, learning and discovery has to be at the heart of this work. The last thing we want to do is to turn off our youngest learners by focusing so much on a curriculum that we forget these are four, five and six year old capable human beings.”

Spatial Reasoning: Why Math Talk is About More Than Numbers

In this article from DREME (Development and Research in Early Math Education) the authors share the importance of fostering young children’s spatial reasoning skills. They provide tips to support adults with having discussions around spatial awareness.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Having strong abilities to mentally picture and manipulate objects in the ways described above predicts success in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Spatial skills may actually help kids think about numbers, too. For example, visualizing spatial transformations may allow children more easily to think of numbers linearly, from smallest to largest, or to solve calculation problems mentally.”

Different Types of Shapes and Nonexamples to Spark Geometric Learning

In this post from The Early Math Collaborative at the Erikson Institute, the authors share the importance of using diverse examples of shapes as well as carefully constructed nonexamples to help students build robust understandings of shapes.

Watch a small group discussion about “upside down” triangles during a preschool activity called Feel for Shapes.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Take triangles for example. Most children’s books present triangles as equilateral (3 equal sides) and oriented to sit on a horizontal base. As a result, children may not recognize isosceles and scalene triangles as triangles because they look “stretched out.” Children may say that a triangle with a vertex pointing down is “upside down.”

Digging in the Dirt for Quality Curriculum

In this post from Robert Pondiscio of the Fordham Institute, he reflects on the prevalent practice of teachers scouring the internet for lessons and other instructional materials, especially in light of recent analysis that shows these materials are generally not high quality.

Download the report here – If you want the quick overview, check out pages 9 and 10 for a short synopsis of the two strengths they identified and pages 11-18 for the seven weaknesses.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Yet the very existence of a vast “supplemental curriculum bazaar” should give us pause, no less than would a “supplemental pharmaceutical bazaar” heavily used by doctors, or a “supplemental surgical instrument bazaar.” Skilled practitioners in any profession who must scour the Internet for the basic tools of their trade should concern us at least as much as the quality of what they unearth.”

Understanding “understanding”

In this blog post from Henri Picciotto, he challenges the notion that students must learn skills before they can develop conceptual understanding. Rather, he believes, developing understanding and acquiring skills go hand in hand. He goes on to describe what it means for a student to understand a concept.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Clearly aiming for all this is a high bar, and it is tempting to just have students memorize some facts and techniques, and then test them to see if they remember those a few weeks later. (This is often how the “skills first” approach plays out.) But what good would that do? It would just add to the vast numbers who got A’s and B’s in secondary school math, went to college, and now tell us “they’re not math people”.  Yes, teaching for understanding is ambitious, and it must be our goal for all the students.”


This site challenges readers to question the neutrality of mathematical algorithms used by companies and organizations to make a host of decisions from the seemingly innocuous – which ads to show you on a web page – to the life-altering – deciding who is likely to reoffend after being let out of prison.

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“The discriminatory effects of algorithms are becoming increasingly visible in the news, like when research showed that Google’s algorithms were presenting job-seeking women with less high-paying jobs than men. But most people, especially in the technology and policy fields, still remain blissfully unaware.”

Want to learn more? Check out this TED Talk from Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction. “Algorithms are opinions embedded in code.”

Asians are good at math? Why dressing up racism as a compliment just doesn’t add up

In this post, Dr. Niral Shah challenges the pervasive narrative that “Asians are good at math.”

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“On the surface, the “Asians are good at math” narrative sounds like a compliment. After all, what’s wrong with saying that someone is good at something? But as I explain in a recent article, there are two problems. First, the narrative is false. And second, it is racist.”

Transform Textbook Problems Using WYR

In this video, Dr. Raj Shah shares an easy-to-implement strategy for modifying a textbook problem to get students more engaged and interested in solving the problem.

#MathMovement Ideas with Well-Known Math Routines

In this blog post from my colleague Sara Van Der Werf, she shares ideas for adding #MathMovement opportunities into popular math routines such as Which One Doesn’t Belong?, Estimation 180, and Open Middle.

“I love the increased discourse I see in adults and students when they are working vertically.”

Excerpt to whet your appetite:

“There are so many amazing math routines, many with websites full of resources. These math routines, when implemented well, will increase student mathematical discourse. I would argue that many of these routines are even better when students are standing and moving.”

That’s it for this month’s tasting menu. Come back in March to taste from a brand new selection of resources.

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