One request towards the end of Twitter Math Camp was for participants to share their thoughts. The organizers are going to gather these up and collect them as a way to archive the awesomeness that was and presumably help sell more people on attending TMC14: Return of the Shah.

Travel

Getting from Houston to Philadelphia is not as easy as it used to be. There aren't many direct flights, and most methods take anywhere from 8-10 hours of travel time. The hot new alternative is to fly into BWI and cruise on Amtrak. Great for weekdays. A bit tricky when flying on the weekend with reduced Amtrak service. Catching our 10:45am Sunday flight required a 4:15am trip to 30th Street Station.

A summary of the week:

car, shuttle, plane, shuttle, train, cab, walking, subway, walking, subway, walking, cab, train, shuttle, plane, shuttle, car, tacos, bed

Sessions

After six or seven weeks sitting around and napping frequently, it was daunting to think about spending an entire day engaged and trying to focus on school. But the conference was so well segmented that you were never doing anything for a long period of time, and the speakers were so fantastic that I could've sat there for while. The two 4-5pm sessions were a bit tough, but I was never bored.

Thursday: 

Took in the atmosphere for a while. Said hi to people, recognized dozens more.  Spent the morning with the Pre-Calculus group. Sam and Dave worked us through an ice breaker where we have graphs on our forehead and have to guess what it looks like. I unknowingly chose an inverse square beast and couldn't figure it out. Greg (@sarcasmyptote) got a straight line. Shenanigans.

We shuffled through curriculum ideas and I got to talk science with Frank (@fnoschese). I wish he could've stayed longer.  Summer and I traded sass.

Max gave a great talk about the I Notice, I Wonder methodology. Lots of parallels to WCYDWT and 3ACTS. 

I couldn't resist the Desmos session, knowing that Eli was THE Desmos dude. He introduced himself, told us we were going to see a secret project he was working on and that there would be a special guest. He flips around the laptop and BOOM, Dan Meyer is staring me in the face. It was awesome and hilarious because I was sucking down a lollipop and was very clearly on camera. The group did a live textbook makeover with Dan. Then he and Eli showed us the beginnings of what happens when you mix 3ACTS and Desmos. I said hi to Dan. He said hi back. 

Attended the SBG workflow session. I know so little about how to work magic with Google docs/apps. Jamie's infrastructure was pretty neat. The desks we sat at had motorized monitors. It was our own evil genius lair. 

Friday: 

We spent some time in the Pre Cal session discussing topics that are tough to teach. Me, Dave (@calcdave), and Mary (marybourassa) rattled through some ideas about rational functions. Dave had some great ideas about resonance frequencies. We talked about swaying bridges. Dave showed us a bean counting 3ACT that Dan had made and we talked about those "I do something in 3 hours, you do the same in 5 hours" kind of things which are apparently rational. I never knew. Final conclusion: asymptotes are interesting, holes are nothing but contrived LIES. 

The Mathalicious folks presented a couple of their lessons. One concerned the "half your age plus seven" dating rule for systems of equations. The other discussed the NSA and probability. Very smart people over there.

Fawn taught us a really nifty rope game. There were negative reciprocals involved and a LOT of fraction math just to untie knots. She gave us a really tricky knot to untangle. Our group solved it just in time.  It could work well in Pre Cal. Official name is Conway's Rational Tangles.

Attended the organization session. A parade of people discussed some of their favorite tech tools for organizing. I knew about most of these already. 

Saturday: 

Subject area sessions were over, so this morning was Megan's (@mgolding) session on interactive notebooks. Having presented on notebooks at globalmath, I thought it prudent to bring samples and help answer questions. Megan sent experienced notebookers off to another room to talk about strategies. Learned a lot about methods to keep track of them, and Sarah (@msrubinteach) mentioned she coats the front and back with mailing tape. Many people said they let students use them on assessments. A sentiment I came to last school year. Upon returning, Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeySF) shared our findings. I talked for a bit about how to integrate SBG into notebooks and how I pull them off without being hyper-organized.

At this point the strain from the week was getting to us. Ate pizza in near silence. 

We spent an hour after lunch learning some tricks about Desmos from the man himself. My mind was blown a few times. Desmos is getting a ton of features in the next year. They claim to print and post every praise tweet they get. They might need to add a wall just for the back channel discussion that occurred during this session. The whole room crowned Eli their king. I hope some Silicon Valley juggernaut doesn't buy them and kill their product.

Lastly, I went to Hedge's (@approx_normal) session on stats for non-stats people. I am a total non-stats person but would have LOVED to take stats from this lady. She shared her opening problem (about a nurse who had a suspicious incidence of death on her shifts) that she uses to guide students through the first few weeks of concepts. We did some quick overviews of her other activities. It was fascinating. 

Conclusion

Think about the top 5% of teachers at your school. Think about sending them and the top 5% from all around the country to get together in the same room. It was the best professional development experience I've ever had. Imagine discussing SBG, 3ACTS, and notebooks with a room full of people who don't think you're crazy. Who hate fill in the blank worksheets as much as you. Who can't believe all the fun textbooks suck out of learning. Who never complain one bit about their chosen profession. That's TMC. 

Posted
AuthorJonathan Claydon