In January and again this past summer, I led an online discussion of Dr. Jo Boaler’s book Mathematical Mindsets.
The Winter discussion was google docs-based and sort of fell apart after a few weeks. It was composed of people mostly from the Central Valley (Fresno area) and some of them were doing their own face to face study, etc.
By the time the Summer study rolled around the Facebook Group (mathematical mindsets book study) had over 200 members from around North America and even abroad!
As the summer progressed we usually had 30-50 active participants (as not all 200 people in the FB Group said they wanted to do the study this time around etc, some were just looking for more resources. ) I am trying to capture some of this into a template book study document that PLC’s for example could just grab and adapt for their needs. This post is aimed primarily at people running a book study in their district or other non face to face situations.
First I would do a call to action a couple of weeks before the study would start. I announced the purpose of the study as well as the schedule – I usually have just used a google doc to keep track of the chapters and dates etc. You could also create a Google Calendar and share that so participants get reminders on their phones etc.
I created an Intro Video explaining how the book study would work – ie, have the chapters read a week ahead of time and be ready to make notes etc.
A few important things to note:
I chose to attempt to learn new things myself while going through the study! So I forced myself to use tools that I may not have used much before such as Google Spaces, Stormboard, even Padlet with a background image as a template. You can just do a google doc perhaps with questions for participants to answer, but I felt that wasn’t the most compelling way to have community. Short summary of Pros/Cons of different discussion tools below:
|Stormboard||Amazing features with templates, voting, comments on thoughts, ability to move categories as the chapter and discussion evolves - and very nice looking/easy to read!||Can be pricey although there is an educator version for free with limited administrator rights/exporting of the conversations|
|Google Docs||Easy, accessible by all, linear and collaborative||Linear nature can lead to participants getting 'stuck' or discussion being static and less interactive.|
|Accessible, collaborative,||Can be difficult for many people to use still between hashtags and the public nature might discourage use|
|Facebook Thread||Easy, accessible and public||Minimal threading for threading, more than a few people can become a mess of a listing of disconnected comments.|
|Padlet||Freeform, looks nice, collaborative||Not as much room as it might look; minimal structure for organizing comments.|
|Google Spaces||Easy to post resources and have discussions about those resources. Geared towards internet/multimedia rich interaction||Not available for EDU accounts. Can become too much like Facebook threads with people posting but not having a conversation about the questions or sharing resources.|
I felt it was a good thing in a book study on growth mindset thinking, to use technology tools that would stretch participants towards increased collaboration and communication.
I usually posted a reminder on Facebook (or wherever your base of discussion is) to do the reading mid-week as well as Sunday night announced that we were starting the next week’s discussion. I would make sure to include the link to the discussion forum and if needed, the instructional video on how to use that tool as well in the post. I then would pin the post to the top of the group.
My Google Doc that had all of the instructions for a newcomer was linked to on the side of the description for the group so anyone coming in could go there and not get lost in the flood of Facebook posts.
Also during the course of the study, I would take participant questions every few chapters and offer a ‘regroup’ Google doc that re-asked questions for participants to chime in on since a few weeks had passed since they were first posed… this was a highly successful tactic as well with a lot of great responses. Only problem was that people didn’t say who was responding and since it was a public doc it did not record their username. I did not say in the initial instructions to leave their initials.
I’ve had almost as much fun developing this book study concept/implementation as reading the book/seeing Jo Boaler live! I plan on training others to run the study and running it a couple of times a year because I always learn something new and it’s a great book! I will probably try this same type of model with other EDU books in the future because it’s so much fun! Links:
youcubed.org :The definition site for math mindset related materials
My Math Mindset Youtube Channel (only a few videos but helpful)
Math Mindset Book Study google drive folder (templates, past book study materials so you can see how discussions turned out!)
Presentation to use with staff about Math Mindset Strategies (please add/re-use!)