Inspiring and Humbling

on the bikes
Me, Mike, and Mike on a early morning TMC14 bike ride

It’s been a few days since Twitter Math Camp 2014 and here I find myself reflecting on the whole shindig. If I had to sum it up in one word…I wouldn’t. I would choose two words instead: inspiring and humbling.

I chose those words carefully. During those three and a half days, I was surrounded by folks with amazing ideas. I mean these people are doing AWESOME things with their kids. Because of this, I have nothing but admiration for the other 149 attendees of the conference. At the same time, I realized (yet again) how much I do not know about teaching. I am hungry to learn and gobble up everything I can (be selfish as Lisa put it), but there will always, always, always be more to learn. For this fact, I am deeply humbled by all of the knowledge and expertise I was able interact with at TMC14.

I could on and on about all the ideas I took from TMC14, as this was the absolute best professional development experience I have participated in. I’ll try and simplify some of the tools/resources/sessions/ideas that immediately stand out to me (in no particular order):

  • Plickers – amazing app that essentially allows you to use paper and your mobile device’s cam to poll your audience…just like a set of clickers (response system) would.
  •  60 Formative Assessment Strategies in 60 Minutes – awesome ideas. Check them out, very practical.
  • Steve Leinward’s idea that student’s are poisoned for life when teachers introduce a concept in an ineffective way. Powerful stuff.
  • Justin Lanier’s recommendations of How Children Learn and How Children Fail by John Holt.
  • The concepts of “Make a one/zero” and “Use a one/zero” when simplifying expressions and solving equations (instead of traditional methods). I forget who it was that told me about them, but thank you.
  • Malke Rosenfeld and Chris and the Math In Your Feet sessions. I will never see dancing in a non-mathematical way again. Step, slide, turn! See it action here (1 of 6). #bluetapelounge
  • Not using numeric grades for students. Instead, use stickers and stamps to assign grades. From Andrew Mazarakis. It sounds odd, but removing numbers from the grading system could be useful.
  • Absolute value blackjack from Anthony Rossetti. Just plain fun. Even for high schoolers.
  • Just how awesome Eli Luberoff and the Desmos team is. They are a company truly all about education. How refreshing.
  • Nik Doran and his push for Hinge Questions. I’ve never thought about multiple-choice questions in this very bottom-up, diagnostic way.

I’ve actually thought about this post since we left TMC14, wondering what it would look like. Also, given that it’s my inaugural post, I guess that had something to do with it as well. Part inspirational and part humbling. And now that its done, I’m glad. Reflection is essential to us all. I’m eager to travel on this journey. I cannot guarantee much along the way….but I do guarantee more questions than answers.


8 thoughts on “Inspiring and Humbling”

  1. Welcome to blogging! Eli was something, wasn’t he? I’m really thinking I should have gone to Nik’s hinge question session. I worked with a group of teachers for a week two summers ago as we tried to write a bunch of them for a resource. It was a challenging week. I would have liked to see Nik’s take on it.

  2. Thanks John! Tell me about it. He mentioned that a solid goal would be write 3-4 per school year. Then have colleagues create around 3-4 as well, and before you know it, you have a bunch of great questions that can be used year after year.

  3. Brian, it was great hanging out with you last week! I like the picture you paint of a community that always has more to offer — by definition, all of us know more than any of us — which is what makes it an ongoing source of learning and growth. I also appreciate the link to the 60 assessment strategies — I missed that session and forgot to go back to look at it.

    1. Andy! Great chilling with you as well. Good times for sure. Next year I’m coming to your session (if you have a follow up). I could use your expertise on statistics and how you teach it. Definitely a weakness for me.

  4. Congrats on your first blog post — can’t wait to read more from you! I still have “Justin, Brian, Catherine, Hannah…” buzzing through my brain. And, you chose wonderful words to describe your experience and TMC in general. It was truly inspiring and humbling to watch you guys work.

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