Our in-service was boring but I...

...came up with a fun idea!

*update*: What if I cut and pasted the blue facebook parts and laminated them? I could give them to each student and they could use poster board to write and draw and use the laminated parts as the headings and such.

I've wanted to do some projects but being that it's my first year, I don't really know what the heck I'm doing. Throughout college, we always had to write a paper about a famous mathematician.

What if I had them make a facebook page about a famous mathematician?

I have to admit, I stole this idea from a poster I saw in a magazine:

Seriously, please go look at this poster and how fun it is! It names relatives, work info, status updates, groups, friends, etc. How fun! It would definitely be entertaining and relate to their lives but the thing is...what does it have to do with real life? I so hate how everything I do is pointless. Yes, this would be more fun than a worksheet and I kind of love designing and arranging and organizing things but is this teaching them anything worthwhile? They are already experts at creating a facebook page so the only benefit I can see is learning what critical/important information to pull from different resources to present on the facebook page. Anybody else see anything? Is this project worth pursuing?

Today we had an inservice meeting about school improvement and we had a presentation done on a survey of enacted curriculum. The idea itself is that we all take this in-depth survey and it graphically compares what we do in class to what we are supposed to be doing (according to the state). It actually looks helpful and interesting, especially to me as a first year teacher. The thing I hated was, our presenter had a Powerpoint with screen shots of the survey...the ones where we fill in our name and school and all the obvious things. I figure if we aren't smart enough to read and fill out the form, we have no business here anyway. I was thinking to myself how much better the presentation would be if they would start by presenting the results and the changes it made in their teaching first, and then let us ask 'how' questions when needed. Start the presentation by answering these two questions:

  1. How will this help me become a better teacher?
  2. How do I go about implementing change in my classroom?
Once you have my attention and my interest, then let's talk about how to achieve the results.

Now I realize how my students feel. They are asking questions as well:

  1. How does this affect my life?
  2. How can I learn to do it myself?

I have no answers.

The next part of our in-service was about Professional Learning Communities. The presenter used (crooked) transparencies on an overhead projector and VHS tapes. Need I say more? Actually, he didn't show the tapes but I'm not sure what his point was. He basically said how hard it was to develop an authentic PLC and get everyone on board. Fortunately for us, he offered no suggestions on how to do it or any reasoning on why it's even important. My insides were busting: Twitter! Delicious! Blogging! Oh my!

But alas, I said nothing.


  1. I have a template that I have used in the past with my History class when I had them create a facebook page for a 1920's person. It needs to be updated (very rough word document), but I am willing to share. The kids liked the project and they "got" how we wanted them to complete the project. I like the poster you shared and will use some of those ideas when I update my project. I like your idea of how to use it in math...I think the kids would like it.

  2. Sure, I would love to see it!

  3. I'm sure the math-phobic kids would love (anything is better than learning math), but what would they learn? Some useless factoids about a mathematician? Better that they learn some statistics or something else useful.

  4. Let me encourage you to really think about what facts you want your students to research and include in the facebook page.

    My daughter just did a problem like this for an English class and really disliked it because the instructions were vague, and it seemed like the art quality was the important thing to the teacher, so keep in mind that your left brain students are going to be a lot happier with the project if you be really specific about how many of what kind of facts you want, or something like that, so they can get a handle on what they're supposed to be learning, and don't end up feeling like it's a vague art project.

  5. Kevin,
    Yes, that's what I'm afraid of too. Can't think of another way to use the idea that would inspire true learning. =(

    I'm nothing if not detailed (which you can probably tell from reading my writing) so that's not something I usually have a problem with. I like details! =)

  6. I know this sounds cheesy, but maybe you can do the facebook about a certain topic? I just saw your blog today so I don't know what you teach exactly but an alg II example would be the conic sections. So someone could be 'Mr. Circle' and talk about his hobbies (how he is useful in real life), pics of himself in real life, his equations, etc. Kind of a stretch, but the kids might like it! I may have to make it work somehow for my class! :)

  7. I was thinking about the mathematicians and had similar thoughts as Kevin & Elissa - what's the point? But, what if the students created a facebook page for a shape or figure? I know, how far can they go with it, right? But as I think more about it, I get excited to see just that - the creativity that some of the students will display in coming up with a hometown for a triangle! I chuckle just thinking about it. And relatives and pictures (that might be easy thanks to Google images). I think the connections and logic that they could display when setting this up could be very fun! Now, does this really fit my standards and how many days can I justify spending on this? Anyway, just a thought. :-)

  8. Well that does sound like a better idea than what I was originally thinking. Seems like it would be a good lesson for my polygon unit but I also wanted to do a project where you build a rhombicasadodecahedron out of pentagons, triangles, and squares. Maybe I could do the Facebook page as a final exam type project over any figure/shape/definition/theorem from the entire course?

  9. sure you can make a facebook page for a famous mathematician + teach maths. ok how about this:

    eulers number - eg f - e + v = 2

    you could have leonard euler's facebook page - status update "anyone know anything about 3d shapes?" - plato likes it, adds a comment; i found 5 platonic solids, names them

    then status update "been thinking about what happens with faces + vertices + edges of shapes - will let you know wot i am thinking"
    reply: "what is a vertice???"
    "it's a point on a shape"


    basically somehow you could use it to show how mathematical discourse can work, how everything builds upon what has already been found.

    or you could go for leibniz-newton battles which could show importance for notation?

    i'm sure you could find something without having to abandon it.

  10. Okay, I was the first anonymous post above and just finalized my updated version of my facebook template for my students when I came across a template from another teacher online. It has a few things that mine doesn't AND has multiple formats. I have only used this project for History, the students research 1920's personalities and create a facebook page for them, similar to the poster you shared.

    I do think this could be used in math, since I am currently teaching geometry to 8th graders, the thought of using polygons, circles, etc. as facebook topics sounds like it could work.

    Either way, here is the link to the templates I found online...just today!