Mission #2: The Twitter Mission

Justin Lanier’s Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere Challenge (#2 of 8):

Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to try your hand at Twitter. Maybe for the first time, maybe for the first time in a while, maybe in new ways, maybe with new people.


This mission, combined with our blogwork in Mission #1, will provide you a sure foundation for all future Explore MTBoS enterprises. You’ll be platformed up and ready to mingle by the week’s end.

Continuing my theme of “evading work like my students”, I tried some aspects of this challenge and repurposed some of what I already do into something that sort of fits the challenge. And I took a lot of photos that I meant to tweet and then didn’t.

In general, I use Twitter to find information. If I see a blog post or article that’s been reposted by a handful of people, I’ll check it out.


While I love blogging, I haven’t been able to find the time for it these days, which is why the brevity of Twitter (and Instagram) is nice. I’m experimenting with posting photos of my board and my classroom on Instagram. I’ve gotten some good reactions from friends on Instagram (who aren’t math teachers, but still have contributions all the same). It’s neat to see how people connect to math and what they learned about math. I’m not sure how much of a presence the Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere community has on Twitter, but given how visual teaching math can be, I think it’s a neat space to explore. I try to cross-post these photos to Twitter in conjunction with #180blog posts, though I’m  behind on both.

I tried started some hashtags – #MusicWhileGrading, #MusicWhilePlanning, #TeacherPockets, #MyBoard. None really took off, but I wasn’t consistent about using them. They are also less related to math. I also acknowledge that many people don’t listen to music while working and that even fewer want to know that I basically only ever listen to the Old 97’s and Billy Joel. I am curious to see what #MTBoS hashtags start trending.

Most exciting twitter moment

Through a professor that I follow in Twitter, I connected with a math teacher in Pennsylvania who is working on complex instruction. Short twitter conversations were had, emails were sent, I’m excited to see how it goes. Even if nothing concrete comes of it (teachers are busy, planning is hard, implementing groupwork is really hard), I’m excited that we got in touch and am excited to follow the work that he does online.

The Future

Moving forward, I am trying to contribute more to the world of math online. Right now, I’m more of a passive consume and I’d like to be more of an active participant. For me, this means trying to be consistent about posting and trying to stay active on Twitter (short attention span, relatively little free time, etc). I am trying to take part in #AlgChat (Algebra Chat) on Sundays, if nothing else, just to see what other teachers are doing.

Related but Unrelated

Related but unrelated #1: I thought it would be cool to tweet my first tweet from the top of Mt. Cotopaxi. Unfortunately, my cheap Ecuadorian phone couldn’t quite connect to Twitter and we didn’t make it to the top anyway, so…

Related but Unrelated #2: A few of my students from last year used to randomly say “Follow me on Instagram, Mr. Chan!” If only they knew…

Related but unrelated #3: Possibly my biggest accomplishment of my last job was convincing my boss that he should be on Twitter. It hasn’t 100% happened yet, but he texted me a month ago to say he’d gotten an account. Baby steps, y’all…

From the least political person EVER

I spent about ten minutes last night trying to decide if I actually wanted to watch the State of the Union. The part of me that wants to be more civically engaged wanted to see the whole thing through (with subtitles and all) to “be there” “while the experience was happening” (I also wanted to see the education part). The part of me that’s trying to be more productive and fit 30 hours into 24 said to turn the SOTU on in the living room, work in the bedroom (I did the same thing with the Niners game on Sunday. They lost), read the speech online afterwards and catch the highlights on YouTube.

I caved and watched the State of the Union. Was it worth it? As much as any speech can be, yeah. I liked the line about spilled milk. I think that we need to do a better job engaging students before we can demand that they stay in school until age 18 (if someone’s disengaged at 15, good luck getting them to stick around ’til 18. Journalist Dana Goldstein lays it out here). I think there were a lot of good calls to action and now we (the Royal We? The Collective We? Yeah.) need to make that happen.

Cool SOTU infographics here (Twitter) and here (keywords).

PS I’m not quite sure what this post says about me or my generation, but, hey, I never promised you a policy wonk blog, did I?

Things I Did At Work Today (To Be Explained in a Blog Later):

  • Added a table of comments and did madcap formatting to our employee handbook
  • Sat in on a bookkeeping call so that we can (finally) get our books in order
  • Called career centers to promote our Blue Engine Teaching Assistant position
  • Started running Twitter analytics