Archive | July, 2013

My #TMC13 Experience

31 Jul

Last week I attended #TMC13 in Philadelphia, PA. This three-plus day event was an opportunity for a small group of teachers teachers to get together and share. Here is my recap:

Pre-Calculus Morning Session – in this session we looked at the overall big picture and our “hard-to-teach” topics. Top take-away: Sam Shah’s “Introduction Junction” where each student has a headband with a graph. Students ask each other one question about their graph trying to determine the equation of their graph or create a sketch of their graph. This is a great way for students to get to know each other as well as review graphing.

My FavoritesPam Wilson and the Hole Punch Game. Students work together to solve problems, agree as a group, and get a whole punch on their paper if correct.  Post-it notes with + (could do better), ! (learned, don’t forget), ? (still unclear), lightbulb (that ah-ha moment) … use these to have students do a self-analysis and post around the room. Leave up for teacher to read at a later time. Can use + and ? comments to structure review at a later date. Anne Schwartz – sometimes just listening for 5 minutes to a student is enough. You don’t need to fix everything. Michael Pershan –  check out his blog at Justin Lanier of making an math-related internet world for students. Michelle – mathematizing the world by looking at every form together: picture, graph, table, equation, verbal scenario. David Weis – student questions fall into three types (1) the “stop thinking” – is this right (2) proximity – you are nearby and (3) the “start thinking” curiosity types. Stop answering (1) and (2) to build mathematical independence  by responding with a leading question or tool and jump on the (3) types to explore. Also wait for the second or third hand to call on so you are not always getting the most extroverted student. Heather – texting Olympics to collect data. Have students text a phrase exactly and another student time. Find the line of best fit. Peg Cagle – paper folding and record # folds, # layers, area of top layer (use area of unfolded = 1) to explore exponential growth and decay. Measure your smallest folded – how many times would you have to fold to be as tall as you? as tall as ___? Anthony Rossetti – the wireless tablet that I covet and Remind101. Me – Trigonometry Murder Mystery … I will post here later but it is also on the wiki.

Max Ray presented on “I Notice, I Wonder” having students write an “I Notice” post-it and an “I Wonder” post-it. This can be used with gallery walks, problems, pictures and more. Similarly Glenn Waddell spoke about “Problem Posing” where you have students pick out the attributes and then work problems by changing one attribute. Justin Aion did a great recap at Global Math last night.

Other great presenters were Karim from Mathalicious. I suggest everyone check it out, some cool stuff that we as teachers do not have time to do ourselves. And Eli Luberoff showed us the Desmos graphing “calculator” that is free and web-based. There were geek-gasms at the powerfulness and ease of his creation. I will be using this tool next year and beyond…

“Making Math Sticky” by Elizabeth Stratmore. Try to make problems simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and/or storied. One interesting technique we tried was problem solving with your non-dominant hand. I found I thought differently and was definitely slowed down. I will try this in my classroom. Another was to have two people solve the same problem but back-to-back – what a great way to talk and explain a problem!

Megan Hayes-Golding share the Interactive Notebook with lots of examples and ideas of what can be done in an INB. While I will not be doing a “true” INB, I will be incorporating many aspects but not as strictly. I like the matching activity and how to fits in the INB – match type, graph, and parent function of all the Algebra 2 equation types. I will be purchasing tape in bulk.

I wrapped up my TMC experience with a discussion on SBG. I found out I was not alone and there are lots of hurdles that make SBG difficult and for us to develop our own hybrid system. 

Overall, TMC was awesome and I hope to be able to travel to next year’s location, no matter where it is, but we shall see. I met some of the super-stars and found out they are real people. I made friends from all over and can only hope those friendships hold over the school year. I realized how cool it was to be with a group of people just like me and that we are all super-stars in our own way. I may not publish awesome blogs or indoctrinate my top achievers into the unicorn-universe or play ukulele while my students work, but I have my own quiet, super-star ways. I read children’s books to my class – and most listen intensely and will wait after the bell rings for me to finish (The Paper Bag Princess is a favorite). And I do some basic chair yoga moves with my students, which they have nicknamed “moga” for math-yoga, to calm down, transition, or start an assessment. We are teachers and we are super-stars! We just need to find our way of expressing it.

Thanks TMC for helping me find my super-star. What is yours?


So, what are you doing this summer?

8 Jul

I hear this all the time. And it is asked in a way that really says “are you eating bon-bons all summer?” I mean really, I do have a life outside of teaching September through June. And June through August I do the same things as I do the rest of the year, just at a more leisurely pace. Laundry, changing of linens, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, grocery shopping, farm market, planning and executing meals all take place. Now, however, I choose one to complete in a day instead of completing it all during Saturday-Sunday. My favorite? Going to the grocery store when they open mid-week! Oh, and I try to take care of all the doctor and dentist appointments during the summer too.

Now that I have been out a bit over two weeks here is some of what I have accomplished:

Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb Pie

Homemade Granola with Pecans & Crystallized Ginger

Homemade Granola with Pecans & Crystallized Ginger

Peach Rhubarb Pie for July 4!

Peach Rhubarb Pie for July 4!

The project I am working on.

The project I am working on.

In addition to what you see here I have also made a mixed berry pie to take to the neighbors when they invited us for dinner and pizza crust from scratch 4 times.  Pizza on the grill is the best!

I am also taking the How to Learn Math Class and am super-excited to attend TMC13. And hopefully the spouse and I will have the opportunity to get away for a week or weekend or two – it all depends on his job. And, of course, there is SY13-14 to plan. I know I will have a few summer meetings and Mr. W & I are going to reorganize our Algebra 2/Trig curriculum.

So, just because it is July or August, we teachers are not necessarily laying by the pool, eating bon-bons and consuming copious amounts of beverages with umbrellas. Oh, how I wish that was true!