Included this week: This week's Global Math webinar details, some blogs posts you might have missed.  Edited by Megan Schmidt
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This Week at Global Math:  Open Middle

How do you take a closed, uninspiring problem and transform it into an engaging, rich task? Open the middle!

Join the Global Math Department as Michael Fenton leads us through an introduction to the “open middle” genre. We’ll wrestle with sample problems, discuss effective classroom use, tackle a series of “Open Middle Makeover” challenges, and wrap things up with a tour of Robert Kaplinsky’s open middle gold mine (

Plus, keep your eyes on #slowmathchat all week for daily open middle challenges.

Presented by: Michael Fenton

Sign up here.  

Last week on Global Math we heard from Justin Lanier who spoke on the emotions and experiences we have with mathematics, including beauty.  View the recording here.

Blog, Blog, Bloggy Blog

Over at Math with Bad Drawings, Ben Orlin discusses a realization he had early in his teaching career. After a year of showing his students how to solve every question in the book, he realized that they still had major misconceptions that he couldn't fix. As he states, "Good questions are a resource, and I’d squandered mine." 

In Ben's view, questions are the fuel that powers a math classroom. And like fossil fuels, they are nonrenewable. You can't solve a riddle twice. So the best way to take care of this precious resource is to lengthen the time between the question and the answer. So please, math teachers. No Spoilers.
Written by Kent Haines (@MrAKHaines)

I've long been a follower of Tina Cardone , her blog Drawing On Math.  Her book, Nix the Tricks, is a must-read for all math teachers.  In combing through the mounting unread blog posts in my reader (I'm not quite at the point that Sarah Hagan over at wrote about this week, but the number does get high during peak working times), I came across the brief but compelling post of Tina's, "When Blank Stares Work".  Tina describes a situation in which she patiently waited while her foster daughter sorted through a problem, her patience being the exact thing that J needed to find her own solution to a problem.   We all know the value of 'wait time', but how long do we, as teachers, wait for answers before supplying our students with hints that we think will gently highlight a direction which they might pursue?  The 40-some odd minutes we have each day is precious, perhaps we feel other students are impatient, and maybe we really don't have enough faith that our students will get to the right answer completely on their own.  Tina's post certainly got me thinking about my own impatience, and how to balance higher order questioning with patient and perceptive waiting.

And while you are reading Tina's post on talking about math with her daughter, check out the posts she's been writing about her experiences with the Salem Teacher's Cabinet.  She's been given the opportunity to have a voice in education policy in her hometown, and she is using her considerable insight and passion as a teacher to great effect outside the classroom.  Lots of great stuff to read over at Drawing on Math these days!
Written by Wendy Menard (@wmukluk)
As spring fades into summer, standardized tests become a topic of conversation in and around schools.  With AP, IB, State tests, PARCC, SBAC, and others all weighing on the minds of so many people, it's no surprise to see the conversation about testing taking place in as prominent a place as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  With such a divisive issue, it can be difficult to have conversation that is in fact a conversation, where you consider and understand the arguments of the other side.  
In a blog post last week Dawn Burgess (@dburgessmdi)describes how an opinionated teacher's lounge conversation about standardized tests left her feeling unsettled. "Both my colleague and I did a good job on the surface; we appeared to listen thoughtfully to each other and discuss our disagreements like grownups.  (At least my colleague did, and I hope I did, too.) But on my side, the key phrase is “appeared to,” and I know that part of that appearance was an act."  She writes about how she was "intellectually lazy" in not really considering this co-worker's different opinion on standardized test and how this viewpoint "deprives [herself] of some really interesting ideas." 

Dawn, who was a twitter skeptic before the @ExploreMTBoS challenges this spring, then goes through a reasoned discussion of her and her co-workers main arguments.  What is particularly interesting is that it sounds like Dawn was the person supporting testing in her conversation.  Because of her viewpoint is different than the norm, she can give people a chance to open up to some really interesting ideas. For example, in response to people who say kids don't know the test material: 
"Others get angry that they are being unfairly assessed on content they haven’t been taught.  But whose fault is that?  I think it is something we as educators have brought on ourselves, by never presenting kids with test questions that they shouldn’t immediately know how to answer. ... We make fixed grading scales that penalize the students when the teacher writes a question they can’t wrap their heads around yet.  As a result, neither the teachers nor the students ever really find out what they can do."

It is definitely worth reading, both for her insights about testing, and for the reminder to listen and respond thoughtfully when in conversation about contentious issues with your colleagues.

Written by Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter)
Just go ahead, tweet Geoff Krall and tell him thank you!  Geoff (aka: @emergentmath) has done the work of giants. He’s curated Problem-Based Curriculum Maps for grades 4-11…that was until last week.  Coming out of hibernation, Geoff has now extended his awesomeness to 3rd grade which includes the work of Robert Kaplinsky,Joe SchwartzDane Elhert, and YummyMath to name a few.  Elementary school teachers are always looking for quality resources and Geoff has delivered.  Wondering if K-2 is up next?!?!
In Annie Fetter’s latest post, she introduces the #MTBoS to the Game About Squares.  The game encompasses everything that Annie and the people over at The Math Forum work for each day. It’s a place where answers and teachers take a back seat to student lead lessons, which are driven by curiosity and the idea of #Notice and Wonder.  Caution: The Game About Squares will decrease productivity beyond the levels achieved during March Madness.
Christy Sutton takes the idea of Sometimes, Always, Never to her 2nd graders and a debate follows.  What’s beautiful about Christy’s post is that she captures her students' thinking to share with us.  If you want to see what 8-year-olds can do when provided the opportunity you have to check this out. 

Written by Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy