It's been a year. Time to recap the best math professional development game in town. In summary, I had a fantastic time.
Exactly. To the recap!
Earlier in the year in the speaker proposal phase, there were requests to hear about my kooky Algebra II idea from last summer, now that real kids had helped me troubleshoot it. I submitted it as an independent session, but it worked better to integrate it in the general purpose Algebra II session. And so, I became partnered with Glenn. It became pretty evident that he and I had similar experiences hating the traditional Algebra II approach. Our theories matched up nicely. The plan was to discuss the universal concepts, what that means for curriculum structure, and some ideas for creating interesting and science based modeling lessons.
I thought we were going to have some room for discussion, the original draft called for a "help me with this topic.." and a "My Favorites" type deal. But it became apparent that most of the people in the group had never taught Algebra II before and were hungry for resources.
On Day 3 we were fortunate to have Eli from Desmos drop in. While Glenn was discussing his super clever modeling activities I was asked what kind of modeling I've done. The only thing I've done is Penny Circle, so we talked about that. And in 10 minutes I found myself instructing a group of people through Penny Circle in front of the guy who helped build the thing and let me beta test it a year ago. Mind. Blown.
iPads and Notebooks
I lead two afternoon sessions. I walked a few people through Inequality Explorations and Photo Sharing. Attendance was low, but we had a good time. It was a murderer's row during that time slot, so I don't blame people for skipping, especially if they aren't in an iPad environment.
Friday was the notebook session. It was well attended. It you're curious, I used this year's notebook write up as the framework for the session.
Man, these were killer. Steve Leinwand was fantastic. I was ready to start the school year 30 seconds after this talk was over. Dan Meyer discussed some nitty gritty details about who contributes to the math teacher twitter discussion. It flirted with being a little inside baseball but it touched on an issue I noticed last week in an AP Calculus workshop: there is clearly an "us" and "them." And we should probably call each other? Eli gave us the Desmos State of the Union and briefly toured the new interface for us and gave hints about things that will be ready for the school year. We were able to play with their latest lesson, Central Park, a few days before it went public.
Because I lead a morning group and had two presentations of my own, I didn't attend much else. I contributed a tiny bit to Justin Aion and his discussion of 180 blogging. I enjoyed listening to the discussions that popped up during Nix the Tricks. On Saturday Hedge let us play with all sorts of fun toys, and my group delved into the finer properties of a marshmallow gun. Then we went to the planetarium (yes, the school had a planetarium) and I passed out in the dark.
You could call this conference Meet Your Heroes. But the rockstar vibe is incorrect. It's more like, here's every great post you read this year, on display live and in person. Last year at TMC13 was a lot of fan girling by me and generally being exhausted from the great energy. This year I had the explicit goal of having conversations with a checklist of people. All of them happened and all of them were amazing. It was humbling to meet a lot of people who knew who the heck I was, and it was cool to meet all of you! Please, e-mail/tweet me if there's anything I can help you with.
It's easy to feel intimidated at this thing. Everyone is so crazy smart and cares so much about their work. The Saturday night EXPLOSION of conversation in the lobby made that clear. I had many moments where I was just impressed. Then you watch them eat a cheeseburger, and you're like "hey, I eat cheeseburgers." Then you calm down.
TMC is about bringing together people where there is a base line assumption: I like teaching, I have scoured the internet to be better at teaching, and I want to share how excited I am about teaching with other people. Think about this when Colleague X starts whining about children any day now.
Until we meet again in Los Angeles. I can't promise I am not going to FREAK OUT when Mr. Stadel walks in. Just saying.