Sunday, August 6, 2017

My 17 Favorites from TMC17

I wasn't going to blog about this year's Twitter Math Camp.  Others have covered the territory pretty thoroughly and I jumped right into planning when I got home, leaving little time for reflection.  Last night, however, I decided to jot down my 17 Favorite Things about TMC 17 so that I can reflect nostalgically in years to come.  So here you go...

  1. Play With Your Math - I loved this presentation by Joey Kelly (@joeykelly89) about the problems they posted at their school to engage students with mathematical play. The problems are engaging and the posters his team created are appealing. I am looking forward to sharing this resource with my school team to see how we might utilize it.
  2. Waffle House With My TMC Bestie - A greasy spoon right in the hotel parking lot?  Catching up with Cortni Muir (@CortniJ)? Yes, please! It wasn't the same not having her with us in Minneapolis so it was wonderful to have her return. I never quite made it over for the waffle ice cream sandwich inspired by Sean Sweeney (@SweenWSweens), is important to have goals for the future.
  3. Chris Shore and Clothesline Math - I cherish any opportunity I have to learn from Chris Shore (@MathProjects), but his session on Clothesline this year was particularly powerful. I'd been endeavoring to use clothesline style activities in my classroom for the past few years. And while I had found them to be a very worthwhile endeavor, I suspected I was only scratching the surface. Watching Chris model the activity brought it to life. What a powerful visual model for everything from rational numbers to algebra and more...!  I can't wait to play some more this year!
  4. Mullet Ratio and Barbie Zipline - The decision of a morning session is always grueling.  Every session at TMC is so rich, but the time commitment involved in morning sessions make it even more high stakes. This year, I chose to attend Classroom Chef with John Stevens (@Jstevens009) and Matt Vaudrey (@MrVaudrey).  They used the opportunity to model many of the activities discussed in their book and on their website.  Many of the "appetizers" they covered were things I was already using pretty regularly in class, but their teacher moves gave me a good deal of insight into ways I could tweak my implementation. But the two "Main Courses" were worth the price of admission (even if admission hadn't been free).  I was messaging my 8th grade colleague all through Barbie Zipline about how awesome it was and how excited I was for us to use it when I move to 8th grade in a year.  I missed the first half of Mullet Ratio, but the second half was cool enough to have me googling mullet wigs before I left. I am looking forward to trying it out in the class this year...making it my #1TMCthing.  
  5. My Wonderful Roommate - Every year since TMC12, I have had a different roommate. I love the opportunity to get to know one of my fellow #MTBoS folks a little bit better than rushed lunches and chaotic trivia nights allow. Carol (@chieffoullis) was a delightful roommate who I really enjoyed getting to know a bit more. She shared my need to pull back for some downtime amidst all of the socializing. She shared her Interactive Notebooks with me, which gave me some ideas for tweaking mine this year. And she was kind enough to not complain when my son crashed our hotel room with all of his teenage mess and angst.  
  6. Dipping Into Calculus - This was a venture I had not quite anticipated.  I had removed both Jonathan (@rawrdimus) and Chase's (@mathgeek76) sessions from my options before I'd ever set foot in Atlanta. I've never taken a Calculus course and my work in middle school and special education has allowed me to successfully avoid it. After hearing them talk about what they planned to cover with such passion and enthusiasm, I had to change courses and check out both their sessions (Chase's session materials are here). They did not disappoint. While I clearly have a lot to learn, I feel like I have a good understanding now about what Calculus is and why it is worth learning. I very much appreciated the insight they gave me and I am confident that my Calculus learning is just beginning.
  7. Crocheting - Even though I have admired her work for many years, I have rarely had the opportunity to spend much quality time with Tina Cardone (@crstn85). At TMC16 in Minneapolis, we were part of a group that hiked to the Minnehaha Falls together where I got to talk with her a bit more. I enjoyed it immensely, so when she put the call out for #TMC17 to get together and learn to crochet I was on board. I have never crocheted and I am always up for learning something new. She was quite occupied with teaching everyone in the lobby about her passion, so Jedidiah (@MathButler) filled in as my tutor and was fantastic! He was incredibly patient and kept me calm, even though my own struggles with Fixed Mindset often make me want to quit when I don't pick something up right away. The entire endeavor was a perfectly relaxing way to spend time with some of my #MTBoS family without all of the social pressure to be witty. :)
  8. Heather's Pre-Conference Tour of Atlanta - Every year at Twitter Math Camp, I try to find the balance between the desire to spend time with each and every person there and the need for time to myself or in small groups of company. The pre-conference touring days that Heather (@heather_kohn) and Megan (@mgolding) organized for this year were a perfect way to ease into the waters. Plus, driving into Atlanta was the perfect chance to catch up with Lydia (@lydiakirkman) and Anya (@anyaostapczuk) who were my Jucy Lucy buddies in Minneapolis. The group evolved a bit throughout the day, but there were around 12 of us. We visited the Center for Civil Rights, the Coca Cola Museum, and the Georgia Aquarium. Combined with my stop to the CNN building the day before with my son, it was a wonderful few days of playing tourist. We have all started lobbying Heather already to organize a trip to Cedar Point for TMC18. 
  9. The Center for Civil Rights - The highlight of the Tuesday touring was definitely the visit to the Center for Civil Rights. If you have not been there, it is worth a visit to Atlanta all on its own. I have been searching teacher workshops/seminars ever since with an overwhelming since of Social Studies Teacher Envy. I wish that I could describe the Lunch Counter Exhibit to you but I do not have any illusions about ability to do it justice. It is simply something you have to experience.  I left there with a renewed since of awe for the work done by those at the height of the Civil Rights era as well as being inspired to honor that legacy in a world where there remains so much work to be done. 
  10. Brazilian Barbecue - On Friday night before Trivia, a group of us decided to splurge and indulge ourselves in the meats. We headed to Fogo de Chao where the staff immediately pounced upon our table delivering an array of yummy deliciousness. The food was excellent, the company was even better. I am a happy woman anytime I get to bask in the glow of some Glenn Waddell (@gwaddellnvhs), who I am convinced must be wearing his modesty as a ruse. He can't possibly not know how amazing he is. It was a chance to catch up with some old friends and get to know a new one. After talking with Bob Batty (@batty314), I may never use the expression "reduce" again with fractions. So, thank you for that little insight that I can't believe I've overlooked. 
  11. Student Presentations as a Review Strategy - So, two totally different presentations that both struck a cord with me were Jennifer Fairbank's (@hhsmath) Google Slides and Matt Baker/Kat Glass' Session (@stoodle and @glasymptote) on Student Expos. While very different in their approaches, they shared the outcome of shifting responsibility for assessment review to students. In Jennifer's My Favorite, she talked about how she set up a shared Google Slide with students where there was one problem per page. Each student is assigned a problem that they have to record themselves solving and explaining. The resulting videos are placed on the Google Slide which becomes a collaborative working review document complete with a Table of Contents. In contrast, Matt and Kat's session talked about the initiative within their department (and the Latin Department as well) for groups of students to do presentations of problem solutions to their class. It is a structured, formalized process where students must cover the problem thoroughly (including typical misconceptions). Students are assessed on their presentation skills as well as their mathematics using a fairly thorough rubric. I am not at the place of implementing either of these strategies...YET. But I've mentally bookmarked both of them as a possible addition to my class when I move to 8th grade in a year.
  12. Registration Table - It is silly that manning the registration table would be one of my favorite things but it unequivocally is. No matter how crazy the week gets, I know that I had at least a few moments to interact with every attendee at camp. That is priceless. Add in the enthusiasm of sharing Sam's (@samjshah) First Timers Pin with an extra dose of welcoming to those new to TMC...and it was simply fun. Plus, a bit of time with Sam is a bonus. He remains to me one of the friendliest and most welcoming members of the entire MTBoS. Grateful to know him.
  13. Superhero Design Thinking - I have written entirely too much and this is taking forever so...Candace Bell (@CBellATL) walked us through a wonderful Design Thinking Project that she did with her kids where they made capes for members of their school community (Everyday Heroes) involving note only technical skills (measurement, sewing, etc.) but also interpersonal skills (emailing, interviews).  I loved it!
  14. Weekly Marble Slide Challenges - Sean Sweeney let us loose on a Marble Challenge and then showed us how he has turned them into a weekly exercise for kids, posting the results on a scoreboard where bonus points are given for creative submissions. My 13 year old was begrudingly sitting with me through this closing session and was thoroughly entranced, using his pre-Algebra skills to solve the challenge Sean had given us with only linear functions. Sean has a series of challenges on his blog and is working on creating more.
    My son was pretty determined. <3 td="">
  15. Fairy Bread - On Saturday, we were treated to some fairy bread by the much beloved David Butler (@DavidKButlerUoA). David insisted that this combination of bread, butter and candy sprinkles was a common treat at children's parties in Australia. I was skeptical but had to admit...the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. I won't be craving it any time soon, but I will probably make some for my own kids at some point. 
  16. Desmos for Assessments - For the past two years, Desmos has offered a one-day preconference where we get to discover new tools and learn more classroom applications and strategies for using Desmos (my notes from the day are here). I attended a breakout session on using Desmos in assessments where Julie Reulbach kicked things off by talking about how she uses Desmos Activity Builder as either a companion to assessments or as a calculator replacement.  Bob Lochel built on her ideas by showing us how he uses it formatively, including a getting to know you pretest for incoming Freshmen. Annie Scholl shared how she uses one class code for the entire year on a single sheet exit slip. The approaches varied but all gave me plenty of food for thought for how I might utilize Desmos in ways I hadn't considered before.
  17. The TMC Song - Every year (with the exception of 2014) a team of creative attendees give up some of their time to create a parody song performance that encapsulates the spirit of that year's Twitter Math Camp.  It is always a highlight of the camp and this year's was no exception.  No list of my favorite memories of TMC would be complete without their performance:   

And as always...thank you to this amazing crew for letting me be a part of the work that you do. Much love to all of you! <3 p="">

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