Hopping Over the Pond

Starting a new blog feels like it should have the fanfare of a new mini-series, a few pilot episodes before the site is launched.  In lieu of that, I don’t know any other way to begin that simply by beginning.

I am a middle school math teacher in Berkeley, CA.  I adore & admire  my colleagues in the math department and couldn’t think of a place I’d rather work.

I actually do have another blog, which has seen two iterations and was retired in the spring of 2010.  It was originally started when my husband and I were avid road bike racers and was a place to document our racing and banter with other racers.  We stopped racing two years ago when our son was born and the blog morphed into a “here is why my son is the cutest and smartest infant on earth” blog.  So, with some recent inspiration by Sam and The Park City Math Institute, I have hopped over the pond into the world of math teacher bloggers.  If you’re curious about my past ramblings, they’re found here.

Thanks to another new teacher-blogger, I have some feedback from experienced bloggers to guide my thinking.

While I have several reasons for wanting to blog, none of them involve a joy of writing.  I actually quite dislike writing and composing my musings into organized and visually appealing thoughts on paper.  BUT…my summer at PCMI made me commit to stay connected to other educators beyond my local colleagues and this forum feels quite right and ripe for feedback and dialogue on the issues most dear to me as a math teacher.  Until this summer, I had no idea that math-teacher blogs even existed, or at least not as the powerful tool for dialogue that I have recently discovered.

This coming year I’ll be teaching just two courses, both of which happen to have quite a bit of controversy attached to them.  I will be blogging and looking for feedback/opinions on these controversies in the coming weeks.  Here’s a sneak peak into upcoming August issues for discussion.

Class #1: 8th grade Pre-Algebra for students who did poorly in 7th grade Pre-Algebra.  In our district, until this year, all 8th graders took Algebra 1, regardless of what they learned or didn’t learn in Pre-Algebra.  I requested and am designing a  class for 8th graders to do a second year of Pre-Algebra.  Creating more tracking is (understandably) a very controversial topic.  

Class #2: 8th grade Geometry.  Certain people in our district are pushing for more 6th graders to skip Pre-Algebra and take Algebra 1 as 7th graders.  For the record, I am not one of them.  Not to sound repetitive, but …Creating more tracking is (understandably) a very controversial topic.  

I’m wondering who out there teaches either of these courses…I’ve got a lot to say and even more questions to ask.


5 thoughts on “Hopping Over the Pond

  1. Hi Allison. Welcome to blogging. I teach 8th sci in San Jose so pretty nearby. We do all 8th grade Algebra and 1 class of Geometry. I look forward to reading. Don’t worry about your writing. The thing about blogging is it’s awful and painful at first and then you catch your stride. My first few months are terrible and I’m embarrassed to even read them. Good luck this year in Berkeley.

  2. Jason–Does all of San Jose do algebra for all 8th graders? Is that successful? What kinds of supports/interventions does your district have for those kids who struggle in 8th grade algebra?

  3. Nice work Allison! I love it. Maybe you would care to share the results of the Geometry meeting with the high school in this forum – or maybe not (!)… as you probably know by now, I filled Kim in on the little I knew about what is going on. I know she can be a wonderful support for our vision of a unified math sequence K-12. And with her connection to elementary – I think we can actually do it.

  4. Hi Allison, I am excited to read and comment on your blog. I also did some great PD this summer here in Vermont and down in Georgia. My own classroom pedagogy seems to be moving down the Alfie Kohn/John Dewey axis…trying to create a more democratic, student-centered classroom full of student choice and voice. It is going to be an interesting year, lets stay in touch.

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