Reflections is a monthly column for teachers, by teachers on topics of interest to mathematics educators: lesson plans, book/resource reviews, reflections on classroom experiences, and more. If you are interested in sharing your own ideas with mathematics educators in the province (and beyond), consider contributing to this column! Contact us at email@example.com.
From Twitter to Twin Cities
I’m convinced that my best learning happens when I listen to other teachers – when I hear their stories, try their strategies, and make lasting connections with them. This is exactly what Twitter Math Camp (TMC) is all about: It brings together 200 math/STEM educators from around North America to share with each other. It’s professional development for teachers, by teachers. To learn more about TMC, check out the website http://www.twittermathcamp.com/, as well as this archived post from the first TMC held in July 2012: http://www.twittermathcamp.com/tmc-archive/tmc2012/genesis-of-tmc2012/ This year’s camp was held at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN from July 16-19.
But I don’t want my post to be about explaining this awesome opportunity. Rather, I’d like to share with you my favorite things about this year’s TMC:
- Continuing sessions. TMC organizes its 3 days of sessions so that your morning session is continued each day. This means that I spent 6 hours (essentially a day session) learning with the same session attendees and session leaders. The benefit of this over a single day session is that between sessions, I had time to process the new learning and solidify it before moving on. It also meant that I was able to bring learning from my afternoon sessions back to my morning session.
I chose to attend a session called Tessellation Nation and spent three days with Christopher Danielson (a favorite from the 2016 Saskatchewan Understands Math conference) exploring all my questions about tessellations. This session also included a trip to the maker space where Christopher cuts his famous turtles and narwhals.
- “My Favorites” sharing. Each day, several teachers presented during mini-sessions called “My Favorites.” They took place following opening announcements or prior to the keynotes, when we were all gathered as a large group. “My Favorites” had teachers sharing a favorite of theirs—a lesson, a website, a teaching strategy—all in 15 minutes or less. This means that, in addition to the 10 sessions I attended, I also got to see 20 teachers share something they cared about. Many of the favorites have already been added to my bag of tricks for next year. I am excited to use visually random groupings, high fives, and maps to extend my students’ learning.
- It gives faces to the handles. It’s called Twitter Math Camp because during the rest of the year, we spend our time on Twitter as part of the Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere (MTBoS), supporting and challenging each other. Through the social network, we share our ideas, our blogs, and generally belong to each other. TMC allowed me to meet the people who developed the lessons I’ve been using, or the websites I share with kids, or who are willing to answer any question I ask. If you want to know more about MTBoS and why you should join, too, check this website out: https://exploremtbos.wordpress.com/. MTBoS is for EVERYONE!
- Conversations. The conversations were amazing and very welcoming – everybody’s in at TMC. Simply being there makes you part of the conversation. I spent 3 full days learning how to support my kids—and not once did we talk about what our students couldn’t do, nor did we focus on what’s wrong with the curriculum. Instead, we focused on getting students where we need them to be. We talked about what we needed for that to happen, and then we got started on actively doing it. I didn’t sit through sessions and then simply tuck that information away for later use.
- It’s CAMP. I spent 5 days sleeping in dorms with 200 other people. We ate together, we learned together, and we played together. The evenings were spent together playing trivia at a local pub, hiking to a waterfall together, hitting up the Mall of America, and even learning to ride a backwards bicycle. New friendships developed quickly and old ones were deepened. And, as you can see in the photo, there was ample floor space in a dorm, enough for Malke Rosenfeld to help us all explore ‘math in our feet’! If you haven’t heard of Math In Your Feet, check it out here: http://www.malkerosenfeld.com/math-in-your-feet-for-students.html
If you didn’t attend TMC16, you can still do some of the learning that I did. TMC has a wiki where many of the presenters have posted their session outlines, PowerPoints, and other resources (see http://twittermathcamp.pbworks.com/w/). You can also explore the TMC archives from previous years on the TMC website.
And finally, you can get started on planning for your attendance at TMC 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia! I hope to see you there.