I learned about Twitter Math Camp (TMC) last summer when Sam and everyone else fortunate enough to attend #TMC12 wrote their recaps and started the new blogger initiation. I decided at that moment, that I would do absolutely anything to make sure I could attend this summer. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
#TMC13 was an incredible experience, and quite frankly, difficult to put into words. It felt like freshmen year of college, but better. I didn’t know anyone IRL before attending and it didn’t matter. We talked a lot about math, about teaching, about teaching math, and about a lot of stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with any of those. One of the main reasons an individual would decide to attend TMC is to actually meet and make connections with tweeps they have been chatting with online. It’s not just about what you learn in the four days of camp, it’s the knowledge that when you go home, the conversations/sharing/friendships, are going to continue.
It would be impossible for me to share everything I learned over the past four days, but it seems easiest for me to share my new knowledge in terms of “My Favorites.” So here goes, some things I learned and/or experienced at math camp (in no particular order):
Favorite Review Activity: Jenn’s “4 to 1” lesson. Jenn uses large whiteboards that are partitioned into the sections below. Project four problems on the board that each have a numerical answer. Problems can be differentiated for students by assigning each student a number to complete, and varying the levels of questions asked. Each student works on their own problem in their own corner. Then, all answers are added together and the total is recorded in the middle square. The teacher only checks the middle number, and if it’s wrong, all students have to check each other’s work to find the mistake.
Favorite Activity to Implement Tomorrow (or in September): Datelines by Mathalicious. Mathalicious provides fun, relevant, teacher-friendly, CCSS-aligned lessons that can be implemented in the classroom immediately. This particular lesson investigates the standard dating creepiness rule using systems of linear inequalities. The Mathalicious crew were campers themselves and also ran excellent sessions on their lesson writing process. I wish I had more time to plan they way they do, but feel so thankful that I am able use their incredible lessons.
Favorite Philly Food Truck: Insomnia Cookies
Favorite Breakfast Location: Cosi. This is where I discovered Squagels. Regular bagels will never be the same.
Favorite Interpretation of Student Questions: David Wees presented on the three types of questions students ask in the classroom 1) Stop Thinking Qs – Ss just want to be done and know if they’re right or not. 2) Proximity Qs – Ss ask question just because the teacher is close to them. 3) Start Thinking Qs – When Ss are curious and want to know more. David suggests that we stop answering the first two types and only answer the third.
Favorite Multiple Choice Assessment Layout: Kate provided us with many changes that can be made to assessments to make them more accessible to special education and struggling students. One recommendation is to provide a designated work space on multiple choice questions so that students remember they need to do work even though it’s multiple choice. I think this would be beneficial to ALL students.
Favorite Activity to Replace a Current Activity: Peg’s tissue paper folding activity to model exponential growth and decay. Last year I had students cut a piece of paper in half, layer the sheets, cut in half again, repeat repeat repeat. Peg has her students take a sheet of tissue paper and keep folding it. Her method is way better as the students don’t have to deal with scissors and will eventually be holding 1024 layers in their hand. She has them calculate area which is something I didn’t do.
Favorite Desmos Tool in the Works: Eli and his team at Desmos are developing an animation option for the slider tool. We got a sneak peek and there was audible swooning amongst the audience. Desmos has also reached #1 in google search options for graphing calculators. Everything about his presentation is a “My Favorite” because the site is just so awesome, so check it out if you haven’t already. It’s something we can all start using immediately.
Favorite CCSS Tool: Shmoop. They’ve taken the standards, translated them into clear, understandable language, and provided examples. You can’t get any better than this.
Favorite Session That Is Making Me Analyze My Teaching: Dan Goldner ran an eye-opening presentation on “Problem-Based Class Designs.” We analyzed the decisions being made in six problem-based classroom structures and determined what are the values expressed by these choices. We didn’t have time to analyze our own classrooms, but it’s something that I know everyone in the room will be doing when they have time. Even if you aren’t running a problem-based classroom, you should constantly be thinking about every decision you make, as it directly reflects who you are as a teacher. I left the room wanting to make sure that the way I act accurately reflects what I value.
Favorite Piano Bar Performance: Another tie! This one between “Baby Got Back” and “Tweet Me, Maybe”
Favorite Website I Didn’t Know About But Should Have: Math Munch. Each week they find and post great mathematics resources on the internet. The site is free, fun, and getting easier to use as the team is continuously trying to make it more teacher-friendly.
Favorite Quotes: These are things I heard during sessions that resonated with me/amused me so much I tweeted them out, or favorited when others tweeted them.
- “Stop fixing everything. Shut up and just listen to your students.” – @sophgermain
- “You might not know something, but you can always notice something” – @maxmathforum
- “Everybody wants a shot at glory!” – @johnberray
- “We’re going to talk about something that’s on all our minds… dating” – @karimkai
- “He didn’t steal your idea, you both had the same one because it’s so important” – @maxmathforum
- “I never thought I’d hear so many nerdgasms in the room.” – lmhenry9
- “Sometimes I’m authentically unhelpful, because I don’t really know the answer.” – @jaz_math
Books I Now Have To Read:
- How to Sharpen Pencils – David Rees (Thanks, @johnberray)
- 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions – Margaret Smith and Mary Stein (Thanks, @trianglemancsd)
- The Choice in Teaching and Education – The Arbinger Institute (Thanks, @misterdittmer)
Websites I Have To Check Out:
I attended a final flex session where planning for #TMC14 had begun. We talked a lot about cost, attendance numbers, and keeping TMC un-commercialized. I know there are so many decisions to be made in the next few months, but the most important one has already been made in my mind…. nothing is going to keep me from attending #TMC14. Nothing.
Thank you to the incredibly dedicated team of TMC planners and all my tweeps for four days that I’ll never forget! ❤