My #1TMCThing, and the two that spoke to me

I need to write this out as a blog post because if I don’t it will become way too easy to not be accountable.

One of the sessions I went to this year was Rachel’s session on Questioning.  I already mentioned it in my blog post from TMC15 Friday, but she did a great job of setting up the whole session and got us really thinking about how we question. But my favorite part was when she had us all tweet ONE thing from the session that we were going to commit to working on this year. For the record, here is mine:


I loved this idea because Twitter Math Camp is three days of amazing ideas, and it leads to overload.  Basically I want to do ALL the things.

My Quintessential TMC Picture

My Quintessential TMC Picture

But that’s insane. I’m going into my third year of teaching and there are so many basic things I have to work on that I can’t do literally every great idea I find at TMC (It was even more insane to try last year). It’s obviously good to take risks, but goals need to be Actionable and Reasonable and whatever other words spell SMART.

So I wrote to Lisa Henry and said “Yo Lisa, sup gurl? Howz ’bout we do the same thing for #TMC15?”  Thus the hashtag #1TMCThing was born. There was some grumbling that “How do I pick just one thing out of all of these great ideas?!” but the whole point was to keep it manageable. Sure, you can do a #2TMCThing* and a #3TMCThing** but you commit to at least one and work from there.

The feed is so inspiring to read through. I attempted to post a link below, but we’ll see how that works.

Of course this means I have to put my money where my mouth is. I went to a bunch of amazing sessions, and went back and forth with my idea, but finally I decided on:


It’s kind of crazy because I didn’t even hear Alex talk about his “Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces” (which, for the record, I still think is a silly name for them, but moving on). But I did see tweets from several people about the data Alex found (inserted below)  To decipher this, the top 3 lines are the amount of time, on average, kids spent. on things.  The bottom half of the grid is a scale, from 1 to 3, of basically how awesome it was. The difference between non-permanent (white boards) and permanent (notebooks) was crazy. I’m not sure if I can get Vertical Boards set-up this year, especially since I don’t know what rooms I’m going to be in, but I definitely want to at least get large whiteboards to go on the tables for kids. For more information, check out Alex’s blog post: (h/t to Chris R for finding that for me).

data highlighted

To make it even better James gave me the awesome idea to have kids do a bunch of practice problems on the whiteboard, and then choose one to put in their notebooks as an example. Part of my concern had been “If the work is on the whiteboard, how do they study from it?” but this alleviated that issue, and gave the students a chance to reflect on what the best problem is and why they should write it down.  I love everything about this idea and I’ve had it in the back of my head for a while, and this is the year I will finally commit to it.

But wait, there’s more!  Lisa recognized that just saying “This is a thing that I’m going to do!” isn’t actually the best accountability system. She told all of us to look through the #1TMCThing tweets and find 1 or 2 that spoke to us. Then, six months later on October 26th, we would reach out and follow up with those people and see how it was going. This is a great way to keep us connected and accountable, and also I always listen to whatever Lisa tells me to do, so here are the things that spoke to me:

If it was possible to be too focused on accountable talk, that would describe our school culture. We are always trying to get kids to talk more to each other about content. That’s why I’ve found Elizabeth’s material on Talking Points to be very intriguing. But I’ve never tried it and I really want to know how it works with actual math content. I know some of the #MTBoS did it last year but I wasn’t in a place to really assimilate all of that. This year I want to follow-up with Heather using it in her Algebra 1 class so I can think about how to apply it to to my IB SL and IB Studies classes (Also Heather is awesome and I’ll look for any chance to talk to her).

I don’t think I spoke to Nate the entire TMC15, but I love this idea. I think the idea of moving away from strict units and just having Math presented in novel ways would be so powerful for kids. The trick is it scares the crap out of me to try it. I’m not afraid to take certain leaps, but I’m still new and with two new preps I’m not at all sure how to just jump in headfirst. I’m really curious to see how Nate pulls this off in both big and small ways. Plus hey, new twitter friend.

Honorable Mention:

So Lisa said pick one or two, but Deb posted this a few days later and I loved it because I plan on doing it too, especially for my IB Studies kids. Last year we had a couple estimation challenges that I put together for the school, and the kids did TERRIBLY. So I wanted to put in Estimation 180, but not limit it to only that. This is an idea I first saw from Mary and I think would be super easy to implement but very powerful.

So those three people can expect a tweet from me on or around October 26th, but I look forward to how everyone’s year is going.

* My #2TMCThing is to have at least one activity based lesson this year. I’ve already talked it over with my coplanner so this may happen!

** My #3TMCThing is to give everyone a high-five at the door on their way in to get them excited about class.


2 thoughts on “My #1TMCThing, and the two that spoke to me

  1. I love seeing you enthused about all the great ideas and contacts that you were exposed to at TMC; if you can put a fraction of that energy to use successfully, it will be a great thing for the kids ad your school.

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