Robert Kaplinsky is a math educator and presenter. He also co-founded Open Middle, a website that encourages problems which require “a higher Depth of Knowledge than most problems that assess procedural and conceptual understanding,” according to the Open Middle website. These “open middle problems” support the Common Core standards and give students opportunities to discuss their thinking.
Kaplinsky is also the creator of #ObserveMe, according to his Twitter profile. That movement encourages teachers to observe one another and provide suggestions for improvements. In a post on his blog, he provided a template that teachers can use to list a few points they want feedback on from colleagues who observe their classrooms. Many teachers have used the hashtag to share photos of their signs on Twitter. (In a different blog post, he also shares a collection of suggestions for “Troubleshooting #ObserveMe” based on some common problems teachers have encountered after joining the movement.)
His blog has a wide range of posts that appeal to different audiences. Some are targeted towards a K-12 audience of teachers, parents and students (such as this series about the Common Core standards). Posts such as “What Do Van Halen, King Solomon And Formative Assessment Have In Common?” are framed in the context of education, but could also appeal to folks who enjoy reading engaging posts that are sprinkled with novel connections. (I won’t spoil the surprise link between King Solomon and Van Halen, but it’s a fascinating one.) Here are just a few of his other thought-provoking blog posts:
- “Never Ask A Question A Horse Could Answer,” which tells the story of Clever Hans, a famous horse who appeared to do math in front of audiences. It also relates that story back to the way we ask questions.
- “The Differences Between Scary And Dangerous Are Alarming,” a short post sharing insights that apply both within and outside of math.
- “What I Wish Teachers Knew About Living In A Group Home”
- “Math Modeling Can Get You Kicked Off A Plane” (and the other posts in his “Math Modeling Can…” series)
Kaplinsky’s website also offers more than 70 “real world problem-based math lessons” for grades K-8 and the subjects of algebra 1, geometry and algebra 2. The lessons, which are free to download and use with students, are centered on topics ranging from “How Can We Make Stronger Passwords?” to “How Many Soda Combos Are There On A Coke Freestyle?” At the bottom of each lesson is information about which content standard(s) the lesson relates to.
Recently, Kaplinsky offered a series of webinars on “Why We Should Reconsider Using Word Problems (And What We Should Be Doing Instead).” He created one for elementary school teachers, one for middle school teachers and one for high school teachers. You can replay them here.
Have you joined the #ObserveMe movement for your own teaching? Are there other resources for math teachers that you would like to see covered in future blog posts? Please always feel free to reach out to me in the comments, on Twitter (@writesRCrowell) or via email (RachelJCrowell@gmail.com)!