Friday, August 1, 2014

Twitter Math Camp!

Edmund Harriss' logo explained
The thing I was most afraid of about Twitter Math Camp was that it could not possibly meet my outrageous expectations. I had jealously not been able to go the last two years, and was so happy to go this year, meet so many teachers whose work I love, and get to experience this community that has become such a big part of my professional life, that there was no way it could measure up.

But I was blown away.

One of the benefits of this community is that we write and reflect. The #tmc14 hashtag on Twitter might be overwhelming, but the wiki has all the presentation info and most of the slides, and the reflection blogposts (that's a partial list) capture a lot of what went on and some of what was learned.

It's a bit overwhelming to recap, so I just want to try to capture my big takeaways here. Names link to twitter accounts, more specific links spelled out.

Dance: Malke Rosenfeld
I have been a fan of her work for a while, and she was running a three day session with Christopher Danielson, a master teacher educator. Attending this session was no mistake, as it was fun, provided experience with a new-to-me concept of embodied cognition, and had so many teaching and learning things to notice...
Also my excellent dance partner Melynee,
who explained all things OK to me.

Malke taught us to dance and choreograph a dance, then set us challenges to solve. This involved making a dance pattern, learning it, and then transforming it. She wasn't using dance as a representation system for mathematics, she was teaching dance, to which mathematical ideas applied. She also established the Blue Tape Lounge by the ice machines at the primary conference hotel, where participants taught what they had learned to other people, and tackled extended challenges. Christopher provided the hand-scale mathematics, manipulative contexts that connected to the dance, like his beautiful triangle symmetry ... doodads.

It was stunning how the dance created a context with lots of motivation for communication, refinement and ownership. The product was a doing not a thing to have. (No typos in that sentence, but I'm not sure how to say it, either.) There was also a lot just to observe about the teaching. Christopher is a teacher educator and was on A-level meta-teaching game. There is enormous benefit in watching someone teach well outside your content, and Malke did many interesting things. Very positive, process oriented feedback.

More: Malke's TMC post 1 & 2, and her Storify of the relevant tweets.

Counting Circles: Sadie Estrella 
Sadie led a session on Counting Circles. The class stands up in a circle, the teacher decides what they are going to count up by, and where to start. When the class is counting, everybody goes, the teacher records responses on a numberline on the board. ("Because number lines are awesome. And it's support for students."-SE) Count for the time you've got, then pose a prediction question to count up some number of spots more. When >everyone< has an answer, then solicit and record student thinking as they give it.

I'd watched the videos on her blog, but it was different getting to experience it. She shared how they tie into the building of classroom culture that she is seeking. In addition to the counting and number sense work, it is inherently collaborative, and leads to number talks at the end of the circle, when students make a prediction past the stopping point. ("If we kept going, what number would Judy say...") Participants quickly brainstormed a number of extensions, by extending the numbers counted, using integers, fractions, decimals or algebraic patterns. This ties in so well with Jo Boaler's research on resetting student beliefs about mathematics that I have to give it a go now.

More: Sadie's presentation page at the wiki has links to her other counting circle work, but also her first blogpost on it.

so sturdy it mostly survived packing
Math: Edmund Harris
Obviously, the days were just packed with math, but among these Edmund stood out. He was the token mathematician, I guess, but added a ton to the proceedings. His literal bag of tricks produced laser-cut paper tiles for assembling 3-D models, laser-cut beautiful Penrose tiles with matching conditions, a plastic ratio proportion engine... and who knows what else. The TMC logo was his design and he is a serious mathartist in addition to mathematician. So much fun. He also gave a terrific My Favorites on the math in dots and arrangements thereof. I learned I must never be given access to a laser-cutter.

More: his blog and the dots.

Group Work: CheesemonkeySF
Elizabeth led the Group Work Working Group, which is what I would have attended if there were two of me. Thankfully they thoroughly documented their work. I did get to sit in on a flex session trying out the Talking Points structure, and it was everything that it had seemed from reading about it. These structures are a part of her effort to push authority towards the student, and be true to restorative practices. I really think this is essential. We do not have a new game to play, and we inherit students who have experienced a lot of inequity and been trained to helplessness.

More: GWWG at the wiki and Elizabeth's references.

Just meeting them:
There were so many people whose ideas and opinions I value that I was glad to meet. I also had a handshake list - people who directly or indirectly have inspired me to dive into the MTBoS, to tweet and blog, which has definitely improved my practice and enriched my understanding. If any of you read this, THANK YOU.

Special shout out: the organizing committee, especially Lisa Henry and Shelly T, without whom this would not have happened.

  • Incorporate more and better structure in my groupwork based on the GWWG materials. In my classes and in the departmental diversity discussions this year.
  • When can I have students moving purposefully solving an embodied challenge?
  • How should I implement the counting circles? Which courses?
  • Edmund's Dots. Build a representation for students to notice things, or another classroom routine that builds over the semester?
  • Is there a way to incorporate Heather's Cut and Grow revisions or Rebeckah's Friday letters into a university environment? (probably; don't know)
  • Tweet. Less.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for you summary John. Before TMC I read a bunch of your shared resources so it was great to actually meet you and collaborate a bit in Malke's session. I thoroughly enjoyed your geogebra session and, despite its brevity, I learned quite a few things.

    I am with you on the group work situation. I often struggle with structuring effective group work and one of my goals is to try to improve on this. I wanted to get to Elizabeth's session bit couldn't. Thanks for reminding me! And Edmund was something wasn't he? I still need to get my hands on one of his posters!