First things first: Having a dueling piano bar in the parking lot of the hotel is a dangerous thing for getting enough sleep at Twitter Math Camp. Especially when Julie is around, because we will absolutely stay till closing. And there are some pictures floating around out there that are not the most … professional. The morning was a little rough, but the memories were totally worth it.
The morning Favorites were fantastic. First we got to see John Stevens’ fantastic MTBoS Search Engine at bit.ly/MTBOSS. It looks through all of the MTBoS blogs for topics, making it so freaking easy to draw from all the wonderful ideas that these amazing people have done. All of these superlatives are absolutely necessary, because it consolidates everything and saves so much time. Next up was Edmund Harris talking about his new math coloring book. I’m really too lazy to find pictures, but I have some on my twitter (Actually lies, the venn diagram with 7 sets was just too cool not to find). All of the designs just look like so much fun and I’ll be ordering a copy.
Tina then showed us a clever way to have personal whiteboards using little plastic sheets, and Peg Cagle suggested “Shop Ticket Holders” on Amazon as a cheap alternative. Glenn talked about how he has to remember that rather than teach math, he teaches people the subject of math (Yay problem frames!), and made an effort to engage with students more by something as simple as high-fiving them every day. I really like these super simple but super effective changes we can make cause they’re so easy. Finally Heather showed us some super awesome stuff she does with Desmos and 3D printing. A kid made a freaking house! SO COOL to see.
Then it was back to our activities morning session. We started with Alex doing a quick memory activity with us where we had to memorize 20 words, then write down all the ones we could remember. We then counted how many people remembered each word and plotted it those numbers on a graph, and the result had a quadratic regression. It was such a cool way of getting at quadratic regression that requires literally no work. Then we repeated the process except he wiped our short-term memory by surprising us at the end of the list, and you could see in real time how the regression changed. Then he talked about how he spirals in content. The top squares are the traditional units, each topic is isolated. The bottom half of the page is a list of each of his activities and the standards that those activities hit on. His activities hit so many different content standards all at once, and he hits them repeatedly throughout the year so kids are always spiraling. It’s crazy awesome to see, but also kind of intimidating with how much he’s got going on. This structure works great with Standards Based Grading (more on that in a second). I really admire Alex for just jumping in with both feet and seeing how it went, and I think it’s awesome how much success he’s had. We have to always remember as educators that we shouldn’t be beholden to “How it’s done” if it’s not working. Don’t be afraid to throw it all out and start over if necessary.
That said, it’s definitely intimidating to start over. I did maybe one activity this year. How do I switch to doing only activities, and how do I get those great activities to touch on so many things? To help, Mary blogged about all of her classroom activities for the last two years at her blog, http://marybourassa.blogspot.com/. She has all these posts that describe both her success and her failures, and it’s awesome. Bonus, check out how she does her warm-ups. I love them and want to implement them into my Studies class this year.
Lunch was a ridiculously large Pastrami sandwich from The Hat.
First afternoon favorite was Anna talking about Google Classroom. This looks like it would work so much better than me awkwardly forgetting to update my website every week, and it would be great for announcements for kids. I definitely have to look into it when I get home. Then the amazing Eli came to share some of his amazing @Desmos magic. I can’t talk about it, but it will add some great functionality to activities (and ties into my morning session now that I’m thinking about it). Every time he shows up the entire room swoons. Finally Mary shared the fantastic “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” It is so freaking awesome and useful, and if you’re into classroom debate they fit together very, very well.
The afternoon keynote was Christopher Danielson talked about teaching math from the heart, not from the textbook. He said to figure out what we love and bring that to the classroom. He talked a lot about his new children’s shape book which is similar to “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” and leads to some great conversations with kids.
Then I went to Rachel’s session on questioning, which was fantastic. She talked about what’s necessary for good questions, but also gave us resources and practice in how to help kids make better questions. She did such a great job of leading the session and sounding calm and knowledgeable and I really felt energized to work on my questioning. This year I really want to focus on Wait Time when I ask questions. I do OK at asking “What questions do you have?” instead of “Any questions?” but I tend to move too quickly.
Finally I went to the Standards Based Grading session led by Dave, Anna, and Lisa. They all have so many resources and gave a great presentation, but the concept is so freaking overwhelming to me. My biggest concern is how you grade questions that target more than one standard, especially since I’m already a really nervous grader. The rubrics add to that nervousness because holistic grading makes me uncomfortable. I like being able to specifically point to things and say like “You lost this negative sign here, so you lost one point”, as opposed to “You lost this negative sign here, so you’re not excellent, but you’re still competent” (I butchered all of the terminology there but you get the idea). I will definitely get to SBG, but I think I need a few more years under my belt.
I’m giving a My Favorites session in about 5 minutes so I have to finally wrap this up. Except a Day 3 post sometime soon!