,I made it 15 whole days before a real rant. That is more than two weeks. That is pretty good for a girl like me. Here goes my first rant. I HATE Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). My mother told me never to use that word (hate) but I really don't think saying that I strongly dislike Teachers Pay Teachers really conveys my true feelings.
Tonight I spent some time rereading a post on Graham Fletcher's page, Questioning My Metacognition. Graham is an incredible educator. He has really caused me to pause and think more deeply about the math I teach and the instructional choices I make. His site and his Twitter feed @gfletchy are sources of inspiration. I spent time tonight relearning about subitizing to foster multiplicative thinking. I'm fired up about using Marilyn Burns' game Circles and Stars hand in hand with what Graham Fletcher calls, "Not Your Mom's Flash Cards." I know these tools will help to build number sense, automaticity, and multiplicative reasoning. I'll get a lot more bang for my buck than if I just drilled with traditional flashcards where the best result that I'd likely attain would be fact memorization.
Anyway, I digress. Do you know what Graham Fletcher charges for this great PD? Before you decide, let me add that there was a video I could watch where he modeled using the, "Not Your Mom's Flash Cards." He and other readers of his site share other (array, etc.) cards based in building number sense, automaticity, and multiplicative reasoning . Do you think there is a one time fee or a subscription to his site/resources? If you do, you are wrong. He charges Zip. Zilch. Nada! I'm not exactly sure why he doesn't charge or throw his resources on TPT but if I had to guess it is likely because he has made a commitment to doing his part to ensure that math is amazing for as many kids as possible. Every time he shares his knowledge, experiences, or materials, his reach is greater. He impacts more students and more teachers. He enriches math education for not only those teachers (and their students) who can afford to spend on resources but because they are FREE, we all have access. Isn't that just all kinds of awesome?
So, for all the teachers who say, "if I'm going to put all my time into designing or making or creating something, then shouldn't I get paid to share it because, after all, now the teacher who buys it is saving all that time? Don't I deserve to be paid for my time?" I'd offer this first question in response: So why did you take the time to design, make, or create that whatever you want to call it? Did you do it for your students? Or did you do it to make extra money? Did you do it because you wanted to offer your students an experience that is better than what they'd otherwise have? Or did you do it to make some cash? Then I'd ask: Has no one ever just given you a resource that they designed, made, or created? If they did, how'd that make you feel? Have you ever just given away the fruits of your labor only to see that a colleague thought enough of your work to use it with his or her own students? How'd that make you feel? Are we really about collecting money from our colleagues?
Finally (I promise...almost done), so much of the "stuff" on TPT is pretty CRAP. Don't get me wrong. The teachers who sell on that site are often very talented and have, in fact, spent tremendous time and energy designing, making, and creating. I just can't help but notice that a lot of the stuff (not all) on that site is crap. Pretty crap, but crap. There are a plethora of worksheets and packets that are "standards-based" and designed with the intention of making the life of a busy teacher easier. However, especially when it comes to math materials, buyer beware! A lot of it is mathematically concerning and just low quality "stuff".
Instead, couldn't we just be generous? Couldn't we just share more, knowing that what we get in return is impact and influence. Those are pretty great returns on investment, no?
In the spirit of generosity I'm sharing a week long unit that I developed to introduce students to unit fractions, adding fractions, subtracting fractions, iterating, and comparing fractions, As a result of this week long unit, students are generally able to name a fraction as a mixed number and as a fraction greater than one with no procedural instruction. I've taught it for two years now, along with my colleagues, and students generally remember it as one of their favorite math experiences of the year. If you like more of a project-based-learning, hands-on approach, this might be for you. Access to Cuisenaire rods is necessary though.
It would be appropriate for students in grades 3-6. I'd love your feedback.
The Construction Conundrum
Even more important, check out Graham Fletcher at Questioning my Metacognition. It will be worth every moment you spend there.
Oh, and stay off Teachers Pay Teachers.
And share generously with your colleagues. Your work is worthy. They are worthy. Their students are worthy. The impact you can make makes it worth it.