There is this “buffet of choice” for teaching and learning of mathematics: How can I choose?!?

First: just breathe.

Second: start at the end, and work backwards. Reflect on these questions (posed by Brian Bushart During a #mathrocks event:

1. What are your goals for yourself for your math teaching

this school year?

2. What are your goals for your students’ math learning this school year?
3. What obstacles do you think you will face this school year that may affect your ability to achieve these goals?
4. What ideas do you have right
now for how you might overcome these obstacles?

There are so many options for our classrooms! Every day brings some new lesson, or tech idea, or classroom hack (okay, I actually like two or three of those!) that I feel I must incorporate into my classroom. Perhaps, like me, you try to bookmark the site, or put it on your reading list, or print it out (goes into a file or a stack of paper, right? Never to be seen or read again; can’t find it when you need it!!!

Truth: there are great ideas out there… 

Fact: we cannot incorporate every great idea.

Overwhelmed? Frozen by too much Information Overload, are you?

The four questions by Mr. Bushart gave me a way to identify my goals for my students and my classroom — for the lessons I need to plan now, AND later this year. Sure, I had my unit and daily pacing guides, but these questions helped me identify the daily outcomes I wanted to see.

Now, when I find a great idea, lesson, technology… I can evaluate its application for my classroom, choose to read/act on it now, save it for later – or not read it at all! (I know, scary right? I have this need to read everything that even looks remotely useful – Information Overload!!!)

Example: one goal for my classroom is to encourage a student-led learning environment. There are tons of stuff out there. TONS! I was clicking on links, reading blogs, deciding whether I should “buy the book” (and which book!)… You get the idea.

I went back to my goals: I want to speak less, I want my students to identify what they need to be learning/understanding using intelligent math talk. Obstacles for me: I love my subject, I know my subject, and I want to fill the silences. Obstacles for my kids: they try to say the “right” answer, or they remain silent because they a) don’t want to say the wrong thing, b)they don’t know what they are supposed to say!

With these items in mind, I can evaluate:

•does this give me ideas for short lesson prompts; inquiry based starters; or models for structuring student led conversations on the standard(s) of the lessons?

• are there ideas/questions/techniques that I can use to facilitate student conversation – ALL of their ideas – not just the ones they think are “right”?

• can I see my own errors being identified? Do the example lessons provide me with modeled behaviors that I can practice until I get good at this?

• does this material contain a way for my students to facilitate their own conversation – with little to no input from me.

If the article/ technology/ idea/ lesson applies, then I can think about the best way for me to use the information. Unless I can use the information immediately (I usually plan lessons ahead), how do I curate these ideas so I can get back to them when I am ready?

Ideas on curating information.

I am still working on this! I have bookmarked sites (changing the “name” to a keyword that will help me pull the site back up quickly; saving the link to my Smartphone screen, and placing them in a group with the keyword, pulling the file into iBooks; and keeping written notes in my journal that I use for lessons. I am also learning to use google docs. I want to be able to compile all of these sources in one place – for me to use, and to be able to share in one clean link.

I know there are more ways to create these docs. I have found good resource lists in wiki pages, but I am not as comfortable creating them as I am using them!

I have learned enough from my great PLN #MTBoS, to know there are many good curation ideas – but again, more overload! So maybe I’ll set some goals for my curation, and start reading – again!

I would love to know what works for you. How do you deal with your Information Overload?

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