The Mathtwitterblogoshere is more than just a mouthful. MTBoS for short, the Mathtwitterblogosphere identifies the online community of math teachers who connect and share ideas via the Internet, namely through Twitter chats and teacher blogs. Essentially, MTBoS functions as a platform for free, continual professional development in which teachers can both participate and contribute, regardless of the degree of their experience teaching. Their website serves to introduce teachers to MTBoS and acts as a launchpad for teachers seeking to get involved in the realm of MTBoS.
The MTBoS scavenger hunt is a great way to see what this virtual community of educators is all about. The scavenger hunt helps teachers find a particularly helpful resource on the MTBoS website entitled “Cool Things We’ve Done Together.” This page consolidates into one location all of the beneficial resources that have been produced through collaboration on MTBoS. One such resource is the Virtual Filing Cabinet created by teacher Sam Shah, which categorizes lesson plans and ideas by grade level and subject. Another important resource is the free E-book Nix the Tricks, which uncovers and explains why many of the common “tricks” taught by teachers actually hinder student learning, and it offers methods for replacing those tricks. Nix the Tricks offers invaluable insight into how math “tricks” promote what Skemp (1978) deems instrumental understanding, while the suggested replacement methods help students gain relational understanding (knowing the why behind the how). Teachers can utilize resources like these in lesson planning, whether they start with ideas found in the Virtual Filing Cabinet or improve lessons by eliminating any “tricks” that may have been hiding.
MTBoS also aids teachers in finding avenues by which to incorporate real world problems into the classroom through resources such as the Would You Rather and Estimation 180 links. The Would You Rather page contains numerous questions (complete with photos) that ask students to choose between two options, requiring them to engage in mathematical thinking in order to justify their choices. The Estimation 180 page houses over 200 days worth of pictures and videos designed to help students build number sense over time. The activities found in these pages do not require large quantities of time, which make them well suited for warm up problems.
The MTBoS Google search engine does that which not-so-tech-savvy teachers never thought possible by limiting the scope of Google searches to blogs and pages directly connected to MTBoS. Since most of the material affiliated with MTBoS is tried and true, the MTBoS search engine saves teachers from hours spent sifting through pages of irrelevant and ineffective material that pops up as the result of a general Google search. Not only useful for tailored searches related to a given topic (like “factoring” for example), the MTBoS search engine also helps teachers quickly find blogs by other teachers who have shared experiences. For example, typing “frustrated” into the MTBoS search engine results in ten pages of blog references in which a teacher has mentioned having a frustrated student or being frustrated themselves. It is no secret that teaching is hard work, but having a support system (even if it is online) helps.
The resources mentioned above represent only the tip of the MTBoS iceberg. While a Twitter account is necessary to engage in every dimension of MTBoS, it is by no means needed to gain huge benefits from this progressive resource. Even if you do not consider yourself a technologically inclined individual, chances are that you want to live up to your teaching potential, and the Mathtwitterblogosphere will not disappoint.
Skemp, R. (1978). Relational understanding and instrumental understanding.
Arithmetic Teacher, 152-161.