Sunday, July 7, 2013

Math Teacher Popularity Contest

OK, first a disclaimer. I didn't intend to make a list of most popular math teachers on twitter. Technically, it's not really that. It's really a list of most popular math teachers as determined by people attending Twitter Math Camp (TMC) this summer. (That's just not a good title for a blog post.)

Let me explain. I will be attending TMC in Philadelphia in a couple of weeks and I was roped into helping with Game Night. Basically we're coming up with a game that tests TMC attendees knowledge of math teachers on twitter. The only problem is...who should be on that list? They had to be well known, otherwise the game wouldn't be any fun.

So I volunteered to figure out which tweeps (people on twitter) were the most popular by looking at who TMC attendees followed on twitter*. I ranked those followed tweeps by highest frequency, and voila, my list. I created this list on twitter at:

After I made the list, I realized that there were a lot of cool and intelligent math teachers out there that I wasn't following. For whatever reasons, our paths just never crossed. Maybe there are some cool people on here that you don't follow. If this list is helpful to you, great! If not, the hell with you. I don't care.

* I ended up looking at 116 of the 122 people going. I couldn't include everyone because of protected accounts or they followed way too many people (one person is following more than 14,000 people).

Random thoughts:

1. How the hell did I get on this list?

2. I was really surprised to see that some people aren't on this list. I was going to list them here, but then thought, "no, because then I'll forget someone and they'll think I'm a jerkface." If you're not here, but you think you should be, don't cry about it. This was heavily influenced by who is attending TMC.

3. I didn't want to show the actual rankings, because people can get weird. But if this were like homecoming, Dan Meyer would be Homecoming King and Kate Nowak would be Homecoming Queen. Fawn Nguyen, Captain Bad Idea, Julie Reulbach, and Sam Shah would all get honorable mentions. Congrats!

4. Conan O'Brien, Barack Obama, and Zooey Deschanel all got a lot of votes. Sadly, they didn't have enough followers to make the list.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Whiteboard Envy

My whiteboards are small. And this bothers me, because I know other teachers (Andrew and Fawn) have bigger whiteboards and they're able to do so much more with them. They know how insecure I am, but that doesn't stop them from showing off.

So I decided to write a letter to my administration this morning. I hope that I was convincing.

Ladies and gentlemen,

First off, let me tell you how impressed I am with your charming personalities and insights. You are all very in tune with what works in education, and very supportive of teachers’ requests for new materials.

Incidentally, I have been having some enlightening discussions with some other successful teachers from across the country, and a common theme in group problem-solving is the use of large whiteboards. In my own experiences, a whiteboard seems to have some magical effect on student engagement. Could it be that a clean whiteboard, this blank slate, represents new beginnings and unlimited possibilities? Could it be that students are better at sharing their work when they share their workspace? Do some of my students enjoy the pleasant aromas emanating from their dry-erase markers? (The answer to this is a resounding “Yes!”. One student in particular prefers the black markers because they smell like bananas.) Regardless, it seems that whiteboarding is a preferable medium for students to share their mathematical thinking.

But alas…I do not possess whiteboards of such size that would foster such thinking. My tiny 12” by 12” boards are capable of containing only the smallest amount of information. They are woefully inadequate.

This is why I would like to purchase large, group-friendly, 24” by 32” whiteboards from Each board costs only $10.50, or the cost of two Pomegranate Frappaccinos. Accounting for the fact that I could have a class of 30 students, and the smallest group I might have is a group of two students, it would make sense that we order 15 boards for a cost of $157.50. There would also be some shipping costs, which might be costly, but isn’t it worth it…you know, for the kids?

Thank you for taking the time to consider this purchase.

Nathan Kraft
Math Department
DHH Lengel Middle School, Pottsville, PA
Class Website:


Everyone in the twitterverse (and their mothers) is telling me that I should just go to Lowes or Home Depot:

I think the biggest concern I have about this is that the edges will be rough which does not look pretty and could give kids splinters. Yeah, I could sand it down...would that be sufficient? I also am concerned about the thickness and quality of the materials. I don't want these things breaking easily. Any thoughts from you, the whiteboarding community?

Finally, Dan Bowdoin had this solution....