The post No One Is A Prophet In Their Own Land appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>If you’ve ever felt like you don’t get the attention or respect you deserve from the people who know you well, you’re not alone. Maybe you’ve even heard the saying that no one is a prophet in their own land? The phrase has it’s origins in Luke 4:24 meaning that this phenomenon is by no means new. The basic idea is that people take for granted the things they’re familiar with.

This can take many forms including when you tell a loved one about a restaurant you want to go to, only for them to dismiss you. Then, later that same loved one may come back telling you about how they want to go to that same restaurant because their friend told them it was great. If you’re laughing because this has happened to you, you’re not alone. It’s so common that we’ve all probably experienced one or both sides of it yet, yet it can be exceptionally hard to defeat.

Applications in Education

It can drive you bonkers because you’re pretty sure that what you’re sharing is worthwhile, if you’d only be taken seriously. It can sow seeds of doubt that make you question whether others are right for not taking you seriously. Believe me, I’ve been there.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic spell to make this reality go away. However, I do have a couple pieces of advice for you:

- Realize that you’re not alone in feeling this way, and there’s a good chance that the people who doubt you also feel that way because they’re often the ones being doubted.
- Consider sharing what you’re doing in other ways. For example, if you’ve got great lesson ideas and strategies, consider posting them on social media or presenting them at a conference. Doing this has several great results including:
- it will give you valuable feedback that’s less biased, help you determine your ideas’ worth, and help you refine your ideas.
- the next time someone doubts you, you’ll have a reserve of memories you can go back to to help you find balance and realize that it’s not you.
- it may also cause people to give your ideas a second look when they see that others like them too.

Conclusion

If this has happened to you before, I’d love to know what saying you use to describe this phenomenon or any other suggestions you have for defeating it. Please let me know in the comments.

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]]>The post My Six Favorite Non-Education Podcasts appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>I’m always looking to learn about new podcasts and so I wanted to share six of my favorites. In general, I like podcasts that teach me things I didn’t know or help me see things I thought I knew but really didn’t. Here they are in alphabetical order with a little about why I love them.

99% Invisible

This podcast has helped me appreciate some of the thoughtful decision making that I take for granted in our world and be more intentional about the choices I make when creating something.

Ear Hustle

It has helped me to appreciate what prisoners go through, how they’re treated, how they are supported and given other opportunities, and what comes next.

A really interesting plot twist has been that after 21 years Earlonne Woods had his sentence commuted towards the end of season 3. He’s continuing with the show by talking about the challenging transition after prison.

Freakonomics

One episode that still sticks with me is called The Upside of Quitting. The episode’s premise is that as a society, we stigmatize the idea of giving up on something. In reality, we all have to decide when it’s time to quit something. It could be a relationship, a job, a hobby, a lifestyle choice, or more. Saying no to the right things is often more challenging and important than saying yes to everything else. This has been something I’ve struggled with as I want to please everyone and sometimes get overcommitted. I enjoyed this economic take on quitting.

Again, I’m super interested in rethinking things I thought I knew and seeing what else could be learned.

How I Built This

For example, when he interviews John Zimmer, the co-founder of Lyft, you have to realize that the idea of the company goes against everything your parents told you as children: never get in cars with strangers. If you had invited me to invest in Lyft early on, I would have said that the business idea was crazy and would never work. Yet, here we are.

As a business owner myself, with Grassroots Workshops, I find inspiration from this show because I also hope that one day we’ll help so many people that the idea of allowing educators to learn from the educators they love will also seem obvious in retrospect.

Revisionist History

Some memorable episodes include Free Brian Williams where he examines how fallible our memory is and why Brian Williams’ recollection of what happened in his reporting may not have been lying (SPOILER: what happened to Brian Williams happens to all of us, just much less publicly). I also enjoyed Puzzle Rush where he shows how the LSAT and law school are intended to help find the best potential lawyers but instead seem to act as gatekeepers that prevent people who could be amazing from having the chance. It’s bad because we’re probably turning away thousands of great lawyers.

I have learned soooo much from him.

Sleep With Me

Personally, I have a lot of trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. My biggest problem with falling asleep is that my mind races, replaying events from the day, thinking about what’s going on the next day, and pondering the future. Before this podcast, I might be up for an hour or more before falling asleep. Now, I pop this on and soon enough I’m listening to stories that crowd out my thoughts. Soon, I am drowsy, turn it off, and fall asleep.

I should say that it took me four or five listens to go from “What the heck is this guy talking about?!” to “Oh, I get it. This could work.” Now it triggers a Pavlovian response where as soon as I think about listening to it, I get drowsy.

Conclusion

Do you like any of these podcasts? Are there any that you think I should check out that are similar to these? Any tips you’d recommend? Please let me know in the comments.

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]]>The post California’s Math Teacher Subject Matter Test Is Awful appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>Imagine that people who wanted to become a math teacher had to take a test to determine how well they understood mathematics. Sounds reasonable. However also imagine that this test was both ludicrously hard and assessed topics that had little to do with what teachers actually teach. Not so great.

Well unfortunately, this test exists and in California we call it the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers). It’s supposed to ensure that math teachers have sufficient content knowledge but instead acts more like a misinformed gatekeeper. To show you an example of what I mean, check out these two problems below from the Algebra and Number Theory subtest:

Problem 1

Problem 2

**Here’s your reality check**: if you can’t solve problems like these, then you can’t pass the test and you won’t be able to teach math from 6th grade through calculus. I don’t know about you, but I know two things when I see these problems:

- I have no clue how to solve either of them.
- These problems are MUCH closer to something you’d see in a college level Linear Algebra class than anything in high school.

With this in mind, let me take a step back. The CSET has three subtests which have names that seem reasonable enough (click on the test names to see more practice problems):

1. Algebra and Number Theory

2. Geometry, Probability, and Statistics

3. Calculus and the History of Mathematics

If you want to teach middle school mathematics, you only need to pass the first and second tests. If you want to teach high school mathematics, you have to pass all three. I was a math major at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and I took the first and second tests about three years after I graduated. They were by FAR the hardest math tests I had ever taken. Most of the content was college level mathematics, and a lot of it I had never seen in high school *or* college. So this entire test hangs on the assumption that if you know how to do this math, you must know all the math that came before it. That would be like giving kids a Geometry final and having that grade represent all earlier classes.

When I first took the first practice test ahead of the actual test I got something like 4 out of 32 right on my first try! It took me two weeks with the answers AND explanations to fully understand how every problem was solved.

So think about what this means: there are potential educators who have solid content knowledge of middle and high school level mathematics yet are not able to pass these tests… and conversely, people could pass these tests yet still not know the mathematics they’d actually teach!

Conclusion

I’m all for ensuring that math teachers understand what they teach, but this test does not do that. Why are we not assessing the content knowledge teachers actually need? How do we go about revising these assessments?

If you’ve had similar experiences with these tests or one for where you live, please let me know in the comments. If you think I’m missing something, I’d also appreciate reading about that too. Thanks.

The post California’s Math Teacher Subject Matter Test Is Awful appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – 5th Grade appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>**[Looking for other grade levels? The button below allows you to download all of them or you can look here.]**

If you’ve been looking for a way to challenge your students that was simultaneously accessible for all students but still challenged your high flyers, then you’ll love the problems on my Open Middle Depth of Knowledge matrix. I’ll be releasing each grade level separately but if you want to see all of them now, you can download high quality, printable PDFs by clicking the button below.

It includes:

- Elementary & Secondary matrix (a selection from 8 grade levels)
- Elementary matrix (kindergarten through 5th)
- Secondary matrix (6th grade through calculus)
- 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 matrices (separate matrices for each grade level)

Preview

You’ll notice that the first problem in the column is traditional and familiar. It’s something you’d expect students in your class to eventually be able to figure out. Then look at the Open Middle problems at DOK 2 and DOK 3. You’ll notice that they’re on the same topic, yet are significantly more challenging. You may start to wonder whether or not your students can solve them, and what that may imply about how well they understand the concept.

Want answers or more Open Middle problems?

Want more support?

- I’ve recorded a free webinar with versions for elementary (K-5) and secondary (6-12) math teachers called Why We Should Reconsider Using Worksheets (And What We Should Be Doing Instead) where I make the case for less worksheets and more Open Middle problems like these.
- I’ve written a book called Open Middle Math: Problems That Unlock Student Thinking, Grades 6-12 that walks you the entire process of using problems like these including:
- how to choose a problem
- how to prepare for a lesson
- how to facilitate classroom conversations
- what to do when things don’t go as expected
- how to make your own Open Middle problems

It’s available now in paper or Amazon Kindle versions.

- I’ve created an online workshop called Empowered Problem Solving that I offer every fall and spring where I dive deep into how to implement these problems (and others like my real world lessons) so that you feel prepared to use them with your students.

Acknowledgements

- The DOK 2 volume of rectangular prisms problem written by Joe Schwartz.

Conclusion

The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – 5th Grade appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – 4th Grade appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>**[Looking for other grade levels? The button below allows you to download all of them or you can look here.]**

If you’ve been looking for a way to challenge your students that was simultaneously accessible for all students but still challenged your high flyers, then you’ll love the problems on my Open Middle Depth of Knowledge matrix. I’ll be releasing each grade level separately but if you want to see all of them now, you can download high quality, printable PDFs by clicking the button below.

It includes:

- Elementary & Secondary matrix (a selection from 8 grade levels)
- Elementary matrix (kindergarten through 5th)
- Secondary matrix (6th grade through calculus)
- 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 matrices (separate matrices for each grade level)

Preview

You’ll notice that the first problem in the column is traditional and familiar. It’s something you’d expect students in your class to eventually be able to figure out. Then look at the Open Middle problems at DOK 2 and DOK 3. You’ll notice that they’re on the same topic, yet are significantly more challenging. You may start to wonder whether or not your students can solve them, and what that may imply about how well they understand the concept.

Want answers or more Open Middle problems?

Want more support?

- I’ve recorded a free webinar with versions for elementary (K-5) and secondary (6-12) math teachers called Why We Should Reconsider Using Worksheets (And What We Should Be Doing Instead) where I make the case for less worksheets and more Open Middle problems like these.
- I’ve written a book called Open Middle Math: Problems That Unlock Student Thinking, Grades 6-12 that walks you the entire process of using problems like these including:
- how to choose a problem
- how to prepare for a lesson
- how to facilitate classroom conversations
- what to do when things don’t go as expected
- how to make your own Open Middle problems

It’s available now in paper or Amazon Kindle versions.

- I’ve created an online workshop called Empowered Problem Solving that I offer every fall and spring where I dive deep into how to implement these problems (and others like my real world lessons) so that you feel prepared to use them with your students.

Acknowledgements

- The DOK 2 fractions on a number line problem inspired by Illustrative Mathematics.
- The DOK 2 multiplying decimals problem written by .
- The DOK 3 comparing fractions problem written by Peter Morris.
- The DOK 2 adding multiples problem written by my son, Owen Kaplinsky.
- The DOK 2 multiplying differences problem written by my son, Owen Kaplinsky.
- The DOK 3 multiplying differences problem written by my son, Owen Kaplinsky.
- The DOK 3 multi-digit division problem written by Ellen Metzger.

Conclusion

The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – 4th Grade appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – 3rd Grade appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>**[Looking for other grade levels? The button below allows you to download all of them or you can look here.]**

If you’ve been looking for a way to challenge your students that was simultaneously accessible for all students but still challenged your high flyers, then you’ll love the problems on my Open Middle Depth of Knowledge matrix. I’ll be releasing each grade level separately but if you want to see all of them now, you can download high quality, printable PDFs by clicking the button below.

It includes:

- Elementary & Secondary matrix (a selection from 8 grade levels)
- Elementary matrix (kindergarten through 5th)
- Secondary matrix (6th grade through calculus)
- 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 matrices (separate matrices for each grade level)

Preview

You’ll notice that the first problem in the column is traditional and familiar. It’s something you’d expect students in your class to eventually be able to figure out. Then look at the Open Middle problems at DOK 2 and DOK 3. You’ll notice that they’re on the same topic, yet are significantly more challenging. You may start to wonder whether or not your students can solve them, and what that may imply about how well they understand the concept.

Want answers or more Open Middle problems?

Want more support?

- I’ve recorded a free webinar with versions for elementary (K-5) and secondary (6-12) math teachers called Why We Should Reconsider Using Worksheets (And What We Should Be Doing Instead) where I make the case for less worksheets and more Open Middle problems like these.
- I’ve written a book called Open Middle Math: Problems That Unlock Student Thinking, Grades 6-12 that walks you the entire process of using problems like these including:
- how to choose a problem
- how to prepare for a lesson
- how to facilitate classroom conversations
- what to do when things don’t go as expected
- how to make your own Open Middle problems

It’s available now in paper or Amazon Kindle versions.

- I’ve created an online workshop called Empowered Problem Solving that I offer every fall and spring where I dive deep into how to implement these problems (and others like my real world lessons) so that you feel prepared to use them with your students.

Acknowledgements

- The DOK 2 perimeter problem written by Dan Meyer.

Conclusion

The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – 3rd Grade appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – Algebra 2 appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>

If you’ve been looking for a way to challenge your students that was simultaneously accessible for all students but still challenged your high flyers, then you’ll love the problems on my Open Middle Depth of Knowledge matrix. I’ll be releasing each grade level separately but if you want to see all of them now, you can download high quality, printable PDFs by clicking the button below.

It includes:

- Elementary & Secondary matrix (a selection from 8 grade levels)
- Elementary matrix (kindergarten through 5th)
- Secondary matrix (6th grade through calculus)

Preview

Want answers or more Open Middle problems?

Want more support?

- I’ve written a book called Open Middle Math: Problems That Unlock Student Thinking, Grades 6-12 that walks you the entire process of using problems like these including:
- how to choose a problem
- how to prepare for a lesson
- how to facilitate classroom conversations
- what to do when things don’t go as expected
- how to make your own Open Middle problems

It’s available now in paper or Amazon Kindle versions.

Conclusion

The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – Algebra 2 appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – Geometry appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>

If you’ve been looking for a way to challenge your students that was simultaneously accessible for all students but still challenged your high flyers, then you’ll love the problems on my Open Middle Depth of Knowledge matrix. I’ll be releasing each grade level separately but if you want to see all of them now, you can download high quality, printable PDFs by clicking the button below.

It includes:

- Elementary & Secondary matrix (a selection from 8 grade levels)
- Elementary matrix (kindergarten through 5th)
- Secondary matrix (6th grade through calculus)

Preview

Want answers or more Open Middle problems?

Want more support?

- I’ve written a book called Open Middle Math: Problems That Unlock Student Thinking, Grades 6-12 that walks you the entire process of using problems like these including:
- how to choose a problem
- how to prepare for a lesson
- how to facilitate classroom conversations
- what to do when things don’t go as expected
- how to make your own Open Middle problems

It’s available now in paper or Amazon Kindle versions.

Acknowledgements

- The DOK 3 geometric proof problem was a collaborative effort of Jose De La Torre and Nanette Johnson answer by Ricardo Navarro with help from Robert Kaplinsky

Conclusion

The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – Geometry appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – Algebra 1 appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>

If you’ve been looking for a way to challenge your students that was simultaneously accessible for all students but still challenged your high flyers, then you’ll love the problems on my Open Middle Depth of Knowledge matrix. I’ll be releasing each grade level separately but if you want to see all of them now, you can download high quality, printable PDFs by clicking the button below.

It includes:

- Elementary & Secondary matrix (a selection from 8 grade levels)
- Elementary matrix (kindergarten through 5th)
- Secondary matrix (6th grade through calculus)

Preview

Want answers or more Open Middle problems?

Want more support?

- I’ve written a book called Open Middle Math: Problems That Unlock Student Thinking, Grades 6-12 that walks you the entire process of using problems like these including:
- how to choose a problem
- how to prepare for a lesson
- how to facilitate classroom conversations
- what to do when things don’t go as expected
- how to make your own Open Middle problems

It’s available now in paper or Amazon Kindle versions.

Acknowledgements

- The DOK 3 solving equations with variables on both sides problem was created by Dan Luevanos.

Conclusion

The post Depth of Knowledge Matrix – Algebra 1 appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>The post Seven Things I Wish I Knew Before Writing My Book appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>I’m so excited that my book Open Middle Math: Problems That Unlock Student Thinking, Grades 6 – 12 just came out for secondary math teachers. I’ve learned so much from this experience that I wish I knew earlier on. So, I’m writing this blog post with hopes that this information will help aspiring authors and also give me a chance to reflect on my own journey.

It may take longer than you think

Choose your voice

During that break, I read a lot of education books. However, where normally I read them to learn their content, now I was also thinking about how the author shared what she knew. I didn’t enjoy books that were overly formal as much as the ones that were conversational. Formal books made me feel like a child who should have known better but didn’t. Conversational books made me feel like I was getting advice from a colleague who wanted to see me grow. In that moment I realized I had to completely change my writing voice when I started again. In retrospect, I would have hated the book I was initially setting out to write.

Tell a story

Second, I listened to this podcast episode from Amy Porterfield (beginning at 9:01) about how to structure an online workshop. The guest talks about a post-it note strategy that helps people organize their content from disorganized information into a journey that takes someone from where they are to where they want to be. She meant this advice for an online workshop, but I modified the process to work for my book and it changed everything for me.

Using my experiences with StoryBrand, I thought about where math educators are now and where they want to go. Next, I thought about what the journey between those two points would look like. What would the steps be to go from one place to the other? Each of those steps then became chapters in my book.

For example, I imagined that a reader picking up my book may feel like she has resources that feel like they were written in 1970 (completely outdated) or 2070 (so far from their comfort zone that they feel inaccessible) and has students who do math robotically, because they’re forced to. She’d like to get to a place where she’s got resources she can immediately use to support and challenge all of her students so that they’d be excited to do math and begging to do more.

With that in mind, I thought about the steps that would take her from what she felt when she first picked up my book to where she wanted to be. I figured that first, she’d want to read about how Open Middle problems could help her. If she saw their value, then she’d be more open to learning about why they’re different from other problems. Then we could dive deep into how to implement them including how to choose a problem, how to prepare to use a problem, how to present it to her class, what to do if it doesn’t go as planned, and how to facilitate the discussion. Finally, she’d want to know about where to find more free problems she could use including making her own.

At this point, I’d hope that she’d feel like she’s much closer to where she’d want to be because she’d be excited about these resources and looking forward to immediately using them. Before my hiatus, there was no story. The book was just a collection of loosely related ideas and it was up to the reader to figure out how they connected or how they’d help her.

Less is more

The best storytellers know what details to add and what to leave out. This makes sense in theory but is challenging to do in practice. My initial drafts were essentially, “Here’s every single thing I know about this topic crammed into a book” because I wanted to provide as much value as possible. I felt like I had to share everything I knew. At the same time, there are very few math teachers complaining that a professional development book is too *short*.

As an example of how this played out, I had considered talking about integrating Open Middle problems with technology or why Open Middle problem are different than brainteasers. I’m sure that some people would have valued this information, but at the same time, it would have made the book even longer.

Ultimately, I decided to apply de Saint-Exupery’s rule and ask myself, “If I removed this from the book, would the book be readable?” If the answer was yes, I cut it. If it broke the book, it stayed. My goal was to end up with the shortest (and also most affordable book) that was jam packed with useful information for secondary math teachers. I sure hope I came close.

It’s not like blog writing

Ultimately, there were only a few stories from my blog posts that made it into the book, but the reality is that in general this principle did not work. Some of the reasons why include:

- Connecting all the blog posts together felt confusing like a rambling, tangential story.
- My thinking had evolved since I first wrote many of the blog posts and I wanted to express what I said differently.
- A lot of my blog posts focused on Depth of Knowledge, and that became less of a focus of my book as I got deeper into the writing process.

Hard to make a timeless book

Another concern was that I would reference something that made the book dated. For example, Depth of Knowledge was very trendy in 2016 when I wrote the proposal, but by 2018 it had already started to cool off. I didn’t want to tie my book’s value to a term like Depth of Knowledge, so the hiatus gave me more perspective and allowed me to shift the focus towards Open Middle problems.

I realize now that there’s no way to make a flawless book, but I sure tried. A core belief I have is “Do the best you can do and that’s the best you can do.” Many people put their best effort into this book and I have to hope that it’s enough.

My language could unintentionally offend

Conclusion

The post Seven Things I Wish I Knew Before Writing My Book appeared first on Robert Kaplinsky.

]]>