Day 1 of #TMC14 was great. Day 2 made it even harder to choose sessions. There were literally three or four things I wanted to do in each slot. We need more than three days or to record the sessions for viewing later!
We started with morning announcements and another round of My Favorites.
1. Edmund Harriss (@gelada) started by sharing the message that even counting is hard and was overall SO entertaining to listen to. Wait for his forthcoming poster; it's spectacular.
2. Christine Sullivan (@mathiechris) shared her love of using an online plan book called planbookedu.com.
3. Bob Lochel (@bobloch) shared an icebreaker related to what he called "Meaningful Adjacencies." Essentially, students list their five favorite current TV shows on an index card and are tasked with placing their cards as close as possible to the cards of others they have things in common with. This is the same way the names of the victims were carved into one of the 9/11 memorials in NYC. Pretty neat!
4. Glenn Waddell (@gwaddellnvhs) shared that an old smart phone can become a great (free) video camera for your classroom. And...bonus...notching a slit in the bottom of a cup and placing it on a table upside down makes a pretty great tripod. Genius!
5. Justin Lanier suggested two books by John Holt: Why Children Fail and Why Children Learn. They gave him three major insights: 1. Look around (be conscious of your students at all times; you'll learn about them even when they're being quiet) 2. Teach crazy (acknowledge the leaps we expect students to take and that the logic of what we're teaching isn't always on the surface) 3. Trust children.
6. Michael Pershan (@mpershan) was there to plug Global Math Department, something I'm totally under-utilizing at the moment, and to have us fill in a demographic survey about the TMC participants.
7. Karim Ani (@karimkai) shared Mathalicious. Thanks to Mathalicious for offering us a free trial; the good news for you is that my school is already paying for several licenses for teachers because I told them how awesome your lessons are!
Shew, that was a lot of favorites!
Next up, Dan Meyer's keynote (@ddmeyer). What can I say? He's such a good speaker. Dan shared lots of data about the MTBoS and TMC participants. Nothing's really conclusive, except that men and women are represented about equally. It was interesting to look at what he pulled together and also to see how many fewer teachers seem to blog than to tweet.
Chris Shore's (@mathprojects) presentation on "How to Teach Those Kids" could be its own post. Oh, so much good stuff there. My biggest takeaway is that I'm too lenient. I knew this. I knew I needed to address it. Something in the way Chris phrased things just made it sink in all the more. My classroom needs to become a classroom with "no options." In other words, you do your work. You didn't do it? Guess what, you still need to. And I'll make your life more difficult unless you get it done. He also talked about cumulative tests. While I don't currently do those, I get similar exposure to previous content in my math maintenance. Boot camp, a remediation effort specific to each student was also an interesting idea. It may be hard to get students to get past the whining, "It's not fair that I have to do twice as much work as he does," but I've never cared much about that whining anyway. The idea is to get all of the kids to the finish line. Take a coaching mentality. Finally, Chris wanted to talk about a new grading/reward policy but I think he ran a little short on time and I'd be interested to hear more about that aspect of his success. I feel like I do a great job of reaching 95% of my students, but I'm aiming for 100%.
Finally, Jason Valade (@jay2thavee) shared some techniques for editing together video clips. He suggests videos of 6-8 minutes based on interviews he's done with students.
For dinner, I went with Greg (@mathtans), John (@Math_CS_Teach), and Kathryn (@kathrynfreed) -yay for name twins! It was totally random; we all ended up in the lobby without definitive plans. After a few minutes of randomly waiting, I said, "I've got room for 4 more people. Follow me if you want and we'll just pick something." We went to a sandwich/salad/smoothie place and had a great 90-minute or so chat sharing our best tips and a good bit of ed psych. Kathryn absolutely has to blog about her circle paper passing activity. I hadn't talked to Greg or John before then, so it was awesome to meet some new people. Greg has written these awesome function stories that I can't believe I've missed for years. John is a career changer who will be starting his first full year in the classroom this fall. I'm so impressed that he made the trip to #TMC14 as a beginning teacher! This dinner and several other experiences this week have shown me that one of the coolest things about #TMC14 is that all the teachers here have so much in common that you can have a conversation with anyone just after meeting them. Within an hour, you feel like you've known each other for years!
What would you share as a "my favorite" here at TMC?