Trying to find math inside everything else

Have you ever listened to Pandora and wondered what method they used to determine what songs to play for you? I did and remember writing a research paper about it back in grad school.

Pandora makes use of something called the Music Genome Project. Professional musicians will actually listen to every song in their database and tag all of the songs along different dimensions – timbre of the instruments, vocal type, volume, bpm, etc. Each song then gets a vector associated with it where each dimension is one of those categories.

Then, when you put in a seed song, Pandora will calculate the closest songs to your seed, basically using the distance formula in hundreds of dimensions. (There’s some weighting and tweaking, of course, but that’s the core premise.)

At the Sunday My Favorites session of TMC14, Bob Lochel and Megan Schmidt show us how to find our closest buddies by filling out a survey about what movies they like. Then they calculated the correlation coefficient and the people who correlated the most were the best friends of the pair.

On Saturday, I was talking with someone (I think it was Matt Baker) about how to help people get into our community. He mentioned that while there are a lot of good ideas out there, the ideas that resonate the most with him are the ones that comes from they people he most identified with – whose teaching style was most like his. I had the idea that we could somehow make a survey that a new person could fill out and it would give them a personalized output of Twitter accounts and blogs to follow – a somewhat advanced version of the category lists we made here during TMC12.

I want to make this, but I need help. What are the dimensions that we should ask about? What are important aspects of your teacher identity, and what are some of the things that make you feel on the same wavelength as another teacher in the MTBoS? Please let me know so I can start compiling these dimensions and building this.

(Also, if there is anyone more skilled in programming who is willing to help me, ping me.)

Comments on: "The MTBoS Genome Project" (7)

  1. Some brainstormy ideas (not all scales)…

    It also might be interesting to have ppl rate how important that particular trait IS for what you’re looking for (e.g. I might not care much about how many years someone has taught but really care if they are working on improving good questioning in their classroom)…


    Quirky Teacher Personality –> Serious Teacher Personality

    How many years teaching?

    Laptop school, IPad School, or not either?

    Someone who thinks a lot before doing something –> Someone who jumps right in and thinks while doing

    Feel restricted about what and how you teach by state tests –> No state tests

    Individual work in classroom as norm –> Individual-Pairwork-Groupwork mixture as norm –> Groupwork in classroom as norm

    What one blogs about (questions-or-ask-for-help, things you create for your curriculum, things you create for the classroom, education in general, etc.)

    What specifically you’re working towards at the moment (better notetaking, assessments, good questioning, groupwork, classroom routines, problem solving, conceptual depth, etc.)

    Is most of the work done by kids done in your class in notebooks, on worksheets, on whiteboards, through projects, or something else?

    What sorts of things do you use to assess kids formally?

    What kind of school you work at (K-12? Independent or Charter or Public?)

    Blogging practices (e.g. Blogs infrequently –> Blogs frequently)

    Twitter practices (e.g. tweets a lot with math educators –> Tweets a little or not all with math educators)

    Just some initial thoughts off the top of my head…

  2. Would probably help to know if they are teaching geometry, algebra II, etc….ms or hs,
    Maybe one thing they are trying to improve upon in their teaching for the next school year?

  3. Great idea and love all,the suggestions so far. Also maybe what kind of materials are shared…fully formed worksheets, slides, smart board files, etc

    And why am I just seeing this tmc12 list now??

  4. Mr. P said:

    One scale that comes to mind would be:

    Very organized —–> What’s a list?


    Student Directed -> Blended -> Direct Instruction

  5. What type of school – public, independent, parochial, class sizes, urban, etc

  6. I love this idea. I’m curious if there are things that are simple and non-intuitive that describe connections besides the things we *think* we are looking for. Is there a reasonable way to look backwards into what things form clumps in the current community connections? You could possibly give the survey with a handful of questions as suggested above but then go back and see which ones best predicted the Twitter interactions and blog comment patterns that already exist?

    • I was thinking of doing exactly that, Andy – calibrating the project by having people say who they believe would be closest to them and seeing how that works out in the formula.

      Max also suggested it would be interesting to see if there were external factors (like, say, favorite color or movie) that would reveal these patterns, but that might be outside the scope.

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