#TMC15 Day 4 – Family Reunions

TMC2015-solidThis post is in two parts: first being a day 4 recap, second being an overall reflection.

TMC15 Day 4

The last day is always just a short My Favorites session. Fair warning, this recap will be crap because I felt like crap. I was so tired and so mentally and emotionally drained that I was there more in body than in mind. First up was Andy talking about simulating an Ultimate Frisbee tournament using Excel and modeling a draft. It looked like a really awesome way to show students how stats can influence things. Then Daryl Yong gave a short pitch for the Math for America LA Fellowships. I know that without my MfA NYC fellowship I wouldn’t be able to do half of this crazy stuff, so it’s definitely worth looking in to. Heather and Dylan gave a quick plug for the Global Math Department. I gave a short My Favorite presentation last year on it and it’s a fantastic resource that I need to get better about joining (if for no other reason than I get to chat with everyone again).  If you want the newsletter go to bit.ly/GMDnewsletter and if you have a suggestion go to bit.ly/GMDsuggestion.  Then we moved to a room that had working tech and Stephanie spoke a bit about her Desmos art projects. This is something I’d seen various other teachers do over the year and it’s definitely something I want to try this year. It would be a super simple way of getting kids familiar with Desmos and with graphing, which I already think is a really big weakness for our students.  Matt spoke briefly about using Music cues to get students do what he wants (which let’s be honest, is basically brainwashing kids, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me). I think it streamlines things if you can get the songs to play quickly, but I can see me struggling mightily with that. Also @rawrdimus brought up the brilliant point that these kids will hear “Stuck Like Glue” in 15 years and suddenly need to glue ALL THE THINGS. I really liked his presentation though.  Princess came up and gave a very amusing short talk about videos in the classroom, and I realized I was missing out during the whole conference by not hanging out with her more. I also like the idea of making students make videos of things as a project. Maybe as an extra credit project if I’m unhappy with their performance. Or maybe as a review assignment at the beginning of the year.  Amy did what I think was a really cool folding activity, but at this point I was in no sort of analytical mathematical mind so I think I missed a few steps.

(Basically at this point I’m admitting to the public that I’m a terrible audience member and by the transitive property kind of a crappy person.)

John G came up and did a short talk about his Math Tumblr. I’m already an avid Tumblr user, but it’s mainly sci fi memes and snark from Tyler Oakley and the occasional shirtless guy so I’m really glad to have more math in my life.  If anyone is curious, http://trigonometry-is-my-bitch.tumblr.com/ has some really cool gifs and proofs too. Then John M came up to share some of the things they did in their morning session, which was basically like “How can we use a Zombie Apocalypse to teach Math?”  Their focus was on Middle School so I had opted for a different session, but I love the idea of doing something so crazy. What if every unit this year in Studies tied in into some crazy theme? Clearly Studies is the class I’m most struggling with. But all the activities that people tweeted about from these morning sessions looked ridiculous in the best way.

The last “Favorite” was the TMC15 Song!!  Some of it is “You Had to Be There” but overall this is amazing. I’ve watched it several times today and get more emotional each time.

Finally we had Lisa’s closing remarks. I won’t try to add to them, she nailed it. Then finally put us out of our misery and announced that we will all be spend July 16th – 19th next summer in Minneapolis, MN at Augsburg College for Twitter Math Camp 2016. Then we foolishly didn’t follow Sam’s advice to Irish Exit and had lots of emotional goodbyes with everyone.

What can I say about Twitter Math Camp?

I think sometimes when I talk to people about Twitter Math Camp they think that I’m crazy. I can’t mention those three words together without a smile breaking out across my face and getting incredibly animated and extolling the virtues of the Math Twitter Blogosphere and these four days that we spend all together in some random corner of the country. I want every math teacher I know to join because you can’t help but love everything about this.  Basically, it sounds like a cult.

Sam is the one in the middle.

Sam is the one in the middle, if the one in the middle had two pairs of glasses.

But the truth is that I can’t help myself. It’s four days of the most engaging, heartfelt, intelligent conversations about math education. We get there on Wednesday night to play games and chat, but it’s all about our teaching year and new activities we like. Every meal is at least partially if not completely devoted to talking about life in the classroom and different ways of reaching students. Our sessions end and everyone keeps the conversation going over drinks at the local bar or even just in a random corner of the courtyard.

This year was even better for me because I had come last year and already knew so many amazing people. When we checked in Chris was trying to get his reservation straightened out and I was hopping around like a puppy that had to pee because I wanted to run in to the room and see Julie and Sam and Elizabeth and Lisa and everyone else. And as soon as we walked in Julie came running up to hug me. So many people remembered me or just knew of me and it was amazing. I’m so energized and so … overwhelmed.  But in a great way. In the way that I know no matter what new subject I’m struggling, at least 10 tweeps will have my back. In the way that if I need something new to try, people will have a plethora of ideas. Hell, my #1TMCThing is Vertical Non-Permanent Whiteboards and I didn’t even attend a session on that, I just saw some research that someone tweeted from Alex and felt inspired (And we all know we have at least six #1TMCthing ideas we want to put out there).

Through some random happenstance two people that I know in my face-to-face life came to their first TMC this year. One of the other members of my MfA cohort, Sahar, came because she is active with tweeting, and she sent the following to my cohort Facebook group:

Name removed for her privacy, obviously.

Every time I saw her over the four days she was like “Wow, you were so right about this.” There were a number of tweets and conversations from others something along the lines of “I’m going to get everyone I know to come to this, it’s incredible.”

But I think the most gratifying bit for me this year was that my co-worker Kat made the trek. When she arrived on Wednesday night she didn’t even have a twitter handle. I made her create one before bed. Now she’s got numerous followers and is following even more of these amazing people. The first night she looks at me and says “I understand you so much better now. I get why you saw this curriculum and cringed.” And every night she would come back to the room and want to talk about this year and all the amazing things she wants to do. On the last morning I woke up and she had left me the following letter:

letter

And it reminded me that the MTBoS really is a big extended family. Everyone is welcoming, everyone is happy. Unlike some families, everyone is smart and helpful. And we make each other better. I wouldn’t be half the teacher I am today without Chris or Sam or Julie or Elizabeth or Lisa or Bob or Mary or Fawn or Anna or Meg or Jim or Megan or Teresa or Mark or Dylan or John or Heather or Glenn or Jonathan or Kate or anyone else I’ve ever tweeted with ever (I follow 208 people, I can’t name you all, and I’ve probably already named too many). My heart and my brain are full.

So for everyone I met and spoke with over the last four days, I thank you and I love you and I can’t wait to see you all again next year. I’ll start organizing the Mall of America trip. Sam’s already found the Piano bar. And if 12 months is too long, New York is a pretty amazing city to visit. Plus we have a Math museum.

Stay awesome everyone.

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