Could I have come up with a more generic title? No need to answer that. I want to begin compiling a database, for lack of a better word, of exemplary teacher blogs to use as examples for the educators that I serve. Today is the first installment, and it comes from the wacky left coast:
Kudos to my favorite blogging principal, Greg Farr, for turning me on to Dan’s fantastic site. Dan is a high school math teacher. He is still fairly new to the job (3 years), and his writings reflect the struggles, conflicts, victories, aha moments, and other angst that all of us go through, but especially during those first 4 or 5 years. His writing is funny and direct, and he has little issue with stuffing a sacred cow right into the grinder. Beyond the humor and the revelations, though, it doesn’t take long to determine one thing: Dan is the kind of high school math teacher I’d want my own children to have. He is VERY focused on his students and their success, is very creative, and, although certainly opinionated (not that I would ever have an issue with that!), flexible and willing to recognize that other ideas are valid. All in all, his posts are a worthwhile read.
However, the best part of his blog, for me, is not his op/ed pieces. The thing that makes Dan’s blog such a powerful tool for me are his Lessons. Dan’s lessons go beyond using a PowerPoint presentation or the Internet and claiming to have”integrated” technology. Rather, they use available tools and a lot of creative muscle to create engaging, meaningful content. I am amazed at the simplicity of the questions Dan often poses, such as “How would you graph the change over time of this event?” Coupled with a creative video clip (starring Dan himself), this question becomes a great example of technology at work in the classroom. He also includes links to classroom handouts that accompany many of the lessons. Other lessons utilize tools including PowerPoint (I’ll let it slide this time), Google Maps, Flickr, Adobe Acrobat, Quicktime, and more.
Sidenote: Dan obviously spends a great deal of time working on his site and resources. Time, of course, has been a subject discussed here and in many other similar blogs. Greg pointed out the obvious to me today, though. These resources will serve Dan (and many others) for years, not days. How much more effective is it to spend a great deal of time constructing lessons that stand the test of time than to construct and reconstruct the typical classroom content every year? Pay now, or pay later, and, the older I get, the harder it is to pay!
Dan’s site is a wealth of resources for the high school math teacher, and that is what makes it so extraordinary, in my opinion. He is utilizing the blog as a tool to share information with other teachers…FREE. He is also using it as a means to share opinions and to seek opinions of others. Dan’s classroom is not limited by the walls that surround it. His students are not limited to the kids who sit in the desks around him. His mentors include teachers and leaders far beyond the school offices. His willingness to commit the time and effort to sharing via this blog will allow him to become a virtual mentor for the teachers I serve. Thanks to Dan, and keep it up!