So, I never did a recap for day 3. I should have done it on Saturday, but I somehow stayed up until 4am having amazing conversations with some amazing teachers (Dave, Andy and Rachel in particular for getting SUPER philosophical, and a special shout-out to Summer for her pep talk) and that didn’t leave me much energy to blog. Then I was traveling and sightseeing in LA, so I’m just sort of getting to it now.
As I sit down several days later, I’m torn between wanting to do a recap for day 3 and then a final recap as separate posts, and recognizing my limits as a blogger. Let’s write some stuff and see what comes out.
So day 3 started out with a My Favorites session. I don’t think I talked about this in previous posts, but it’s basically an opportunity for people to come to the front of the auditorium and do a super-short presentation about one (or more) things that they find really useful or interesting. There were a lot of awesome ideas shared that I know are shared in a wiki somewhere, but I want to shout out Pam Wilson for her Plickers idea. For anyone reading this that doesn’t know, clickers are a formative assessment tool where students all have a little device or some sort and when asked a question, they press a corresponding number, and it gives a teacher quick feedback. But the thing is those are expensive. So there are versions that you can do on your phone, but in my district phones are banned. So Plickers basically let a teacher use clickers without having to buy all the expensive equipment or use phones. It’s awesome. Teachers print out QR codes for the kids and uses their phone to scan the room. I’m not sure how well it works yet, but it’s exciting to try.
Then we were back in the Algebra 2 session, talking about Modeling. The biggest takeaway for me here is just how useful Desmos can really be in the classroom. Specifically, go to teacher.desmos.com for some fantastic activities that the whole class can do and then reflect on together. The Penny Circle activity is fun. But the real conversation we had about modeling is about how we view the whole idea. Glenn broke it down so that we think of a problem, do some work to solve that problem, and then check to see if it works, and repeat. Students lack a lot of the skills involved in modeling, so even the highest performing kids struggle with the process unless it is practiced. I’m going to admit right now that at this point in the weekend, I was a little over-saturated with information so I don’t think I absorbed as much as I wanted to, but it definitely gave me some stuff to think about as I try to set up more real-world connections with the material, and it gave me resources to draw from when it comes up.
Our keynote on Saturday was Eli Luberoff from Desmos, further cementing what a cool program it is. Especially cause it’s free. You can now label axes, and insert pictures into the graphing area. I learned how to work in some different functions like area, and how to look up functions that other people have already created. The best part was when he let us preview a new model for the teacher.desmos.com side of things. Long story short, there may be dragons. It’s fantastic and awesome. The real gem, however, is watching how a room of 150 math teachers LOSES THEIR SHIT over an online graphing calculator. I likened it to that Oprah episode when she gave cars to everyone. Bob made a god joke. We were all winners.
In the afternoon sessions I did a quick one on Geogebra, which primarily served to drive home how much I don’t understand about Geogebra. I know people love it but it feels so counter-intuitive to me. The second afternoon session was actually a Flex session where presenters could come up with panels they wanted to run that occurred to them after the presentation had started. I chose to go to Elizabeth’s panel on Groupwork, which acted like a snippet of the morning sessions she ran. I really liked the structure that she set up, in which one person reads a topic, then the each person in the group gets to give their opinion without comments or interruptions from the others. Then there’s another round where people can change (or not) their opinion based on what they heard, but still without comment. Overall the structure, like the whole panel, was a very calm, very … zen kind of moment, and a great way to wrap up the last full day of Twitter Math Camp.
Except it wasn’t wrapped up. When we got back to the hotel, I was dumbstruck by how many people had set themselves up in small groups to continue working on different topics. Everyone from the Group Work session in particular were planning for at least an hour and a half after the day had “ended.” I got in on the fun by sitting with the Interactive Notebook group (the INB Jamboree, if you will). The work that some of these teachers are doing is incredible. If you’re not familiar, an interactive notebook is a slightly different way of structuring your notes. I first read about it at Jonathan’s blog post on “The $1 Textbook” but this was the first time I was able to see them in person. Of the samples I saw, they range from super-super-super organized, with foldables and colors and a mind-blowing amount of organization, to a slightly more organized notebook. But the interesting thing was that every single teacher that uses them said that students start to treat their notebooks as artifacts. They keep their notes organized and bring it to class and save it for next year. I really like the idea of creating a notebook that my kids will value as a resource in the future and not dump in the trash on the last day of school. I’m going to spend some time thinking about ways I can implement a sort of notebook without driving myself nuts with papers and time-management concerns.
Now this is a great segue into my TMC reflections overall, but I think this post has gotten long enough (plus we’re about to go to the beach. Yay LA!) so I’ll save that for another day. Plus I want some more time to reflect on some of the bigger lessons that I came away with. It’s hard to believe it’s only been just over 48 hours since I left Jenks, my brain has been on overdrive. Anyway, I expect all of my three readers to eagerly await my TMC recap post. TTFN – Ta Ta For Now