Thursday, July 26, 2012

My thoughts on #TMC12

Oh my goodness - where to even start!!! The past 9 days have been such a whorlwind that I honestly cannot wrap my head around it.

Let's back up to last Wednesday morning, when hubs dropped me off at school and said goodbye for a week. I worked in my room for a bit, then off to St Louis I went. Thankfully @agktmte and his wife were willing to give me a ride, which I greatly appreciate. The next four days was spent with this group of people:

Honestly, this was the most amazing experience! We had been planning TMC for a while, but on the trip, I was nervous. I mean, some of these people I've talked to for years, some for mere weeks. What if I didn't like them? What if they didn't like me? But, never fear... as soon as I walked into the hotel, @mgolding was sitting there and immediately came over to say hi and my fears vanished. She was exactly what I expected from her tweets and she immediately put me at ease. After checking in and going to my room to catch up with my bestie, @approx_normal, she and I headed back down to meet the rest of the crew. That evening started a 4 day experience that I will never forget.

The next morning, I drove over to MICDS with @lmhenry9 and her hubby. Let me just say that Jason really loves Lisa a lot to put up with all of us for 4 days :). MICDS has a beautiful facility and I was so grateful for their hospitality. Of course, it had the added benefit of letting me see Mel, who has been one of my best friends for many many years. She and I taught next to each other for years, before she moved to St Louis. It was awesome to spend time with her and see her school. Mel, Lisa, Jason, and I put together the goodie bags, then before we knew it, we had 40 participants from 19 states and 3 countries pouring through the doors, ready to "get their math on". That morning we had a welcome session, then off to work in our small groups on the Exeter math problem sets. After a hosted lunch (thanks so much, MICDS!), we had our first "My Favorites" session, then presentations. It was a blast to watch @approx_normal try to explain a marshmallow gun and then demonstrate by taking shots at @maxmathforum. I'm not going to go into details on everything because @rdkpickle already did an amazing job of that, but let's just say that the afternoon sessions were amazing. The presenters did a great job and I can honestly say that I have never been to a PD workshop where I was able to walk away from EVERY session with something I could use. This cycle of up early, work on Exeter problems, go to lunch, come back to My Favorites and presentations repeated for several days and it was just flat-out amazing.

Some of my take-aways...
  • @troystein is just a doll - His session on flipping the classroom really let me gain a new perspective on it. I loved talking with Troy - his intensity in conversations and the questions he asks really conveys that he truly wants to know what you think.
  • @mathbratt did an amazing job with her Rich Problems talk. I had seen the locker problem before, but had never explored the idea of prime/composite numbers, squared numbers, factors, odd/even number of factors, etc. Pure genius! I loved how she encouraged us to make a prediction, then check it concretely. What a great idea with kids! The purple milk problem was a lot of fun and really had a variety of entry levels for kids.
  • @jreulbach originally thought that there was no way a talk on Foldables would last 30 minutes, however, I could have easily stayed and talked to her about it for another hour! I loved some of the templates she shared and I also like the idea of having blank templates ready to go and just tell the kids, "Go grab a copy of the 3 tab foldable" (or whatever). I really would love a "make and take" foldable session next year!
  • @gwaddellnvhs and @jreulbach really opened my eyes to the power of Google Docs. I'm thinking this should be its own #matheme sometime! I loved the ability to highlight emails and put them into a group and the idea of having a collaborative document for kids to work on and it's all combined into one document for grading!
  • @mel6871 showed me the software they use at MICDS called "DyKnow" - holy moly, I wish I had a 1:1 option! that was crazy amazing! She also showed me her mega-cool portable charger for her cell phone... so many times this week I really wished I had one too! :)
  • @calcdave reminded us to be curious, imaginative, skeptical, and precise. During his talk, I starting really thinking about 4x+3 = 11 and showing that graphically with two lines (y = 4x + 3 and y = 11), then the simplified equation of 4x = 8 and its corresponding graphic, to show that solving equations really is a functional relationship.
  • @mgolding really rocked her talk on INBs and I can't wait to integrate them this year. She had some brilliant ideas such as the "centerfold" method for adding more writing space to a page, creating a pocket for foldables, and only taping the TOP of the handout so kids could write underneath it on the page. I also loved her idea on HW for the kids to pick 4 favorite problems, work them, and twll WHY they picked those problems.
  • @maxmathforum changed the way we ask a problem... we should be asking kids "What do you notice? What do you wonder?" even if the answer is "all the rectangles are blue". This change in wording from "What do you know" lowers the barrier of entry and starts conversation.
  • @justagurl24 stole the show with her heartfelt thank you - definitely the sweetest moment at TMC
  • @bowmanimal talked to us about whiteboarding and @mgolding had the genius idea of using black socks as erasers... why didn't I think of that before???
  • @misscalcul8 gave a great "Two nice things" talk... totally stealing that idea!
  • Lots of cool software/websites were shared... @aanthonya told us about, @colinmac10 shared about Socrative (loved the space race!), @jrykse introduced Scribblar, @SweenWSweens shared his "I'm not a programmer, but here's this kick-butt program I wrote"
  • and of course, none of us will ever forget the ending rendition of "Tweet Me, Maybe" by @rdkpickle, @SweenWSweens, @bowmanimal, and whoever else was in on that! Brilliant! :)

    You'll notice that the above take-aways are mostly academic. that's not to say that we didn't have plenty of fun in our off time as well! (You'll notice this list is shorter... that's due to the confidentiality agreement we all signed about "What happens at TMC stays at TMC" :) kidding... kind of)
  • I had the opportunity to eat at the Pi Pizzeria (umm, what math teacher wouldn't want to eat here??)
  • A group of us visited the City Museum, which is an amazing place with tons to see and do. Even had cash fluttering down around me as @maxmathforum's wallet slipped out of his pocket and to the ground. I don't think the people around me that also saw it fall quite believed that I knew Max until he came down, got his wallet and gave me his wallet and iPhone for safe keeping.
  • We stayed up WAYYY too late - let's just say that 20 hours of sleep over 4 nights isn't ideal
  • Found out that the executive lounge really did exist (thanks @aanthonya!) and had a great chat with @aanthonya and @gwaddellnvhs
  • Met two "Magic Mikes" in person! Let's just say that @MSeiler and @mesimmons5 kept us laughing a lot. Best tweet of the week definitely had to be @mesimmons5 and his "Woke up and found out that I now own a polka dot tshirt" :)
  • @mwmathews had a great sense of humor... #pinterest !!!
  • @samjshah is just as much fun in real life as he is online. What a fun and quirky personality that guy has! And he has bowties! And hats! <3
  • It was great to see @JamiDanielle again. I can't imagine how much fun the trip with @Mathbratt, @MSeiler, and @Fouss had to be :)

    All in all, I just had the time of my life. I could have stayed for days, getting the chance to visit and spend time with everyone, but there's always next year :)

    Thank you again to all of you for making this an amazing experience. Thank you to Lisa for thinking of all the little details that I would have never thought of. Thank you to Mel and MICDS for letting us invade your world for 4 days. Thank you to the Frontenac for not siccing security on us more often. Thank you all for the awesome Pi glasses and pizza cutter. Thank you for whoever left me a ladybug Tervis cup. Thank you for "getting me" and not looking at me like I grew a third eye when I talk math and teaching during the summer. Thank you all for blowing up my twitter feed for days afterward as we all adjusted to life after #TMC12 - I miss you all!

    But, most importantly...

    Thank you for being my friends... I love you all :)
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