Tuesday, May 6, 2014

MCTM Day 2 (the final sessions)

Saturday morning was the third act of the trilogy.  The climax of the action was my own session, mostly because I was so nervous about it.  I have presented on numerous topics to my own school before, but never at a conference of this magnitude.

Session 1: Bag of Math Tricks
I chose this first session because it was in the same room as I was presenting during the next time frame.  I figured this would help ease my nerves about being on time and getting set up and stuff.  It did seem to help, but not as much as a couple words of encouragement from staff from my school who were also in attendance.

The session itself was a very useful.  It was literally a bunch of small activities, tips and tricks for any age elementary classroom.  From getting to know you activities, to making booklets, to fun formative assessments, and brain breaks.  It was fabulous and very well done.  It is everything a session at a conference is supposed to be.  Fun, interactive and then sends you off with numerous activity ideas.

Session 2: My Session "Teach Like a Flippin' Pirate"
I have to admit I was extremely nervous about my session.  This was partly due to the fact that I am not an expert in flipped learning nor teaching like a pirate.  I was only trying to share how I mashed the two together.  My plan to help my nerves was to start with a humorous story about last year's MCTM.  The session was packed and the story drew some laughs and overall it went pretty well.  I had numerous teachers come up afterwards asking lots of questions and saying that it was "awesome."   The slideshow is below.

Session 3: Student Engagement in a Flipped Classroom
It was probably the fact that I has just finished, but this session did not engage me.  Although I am not sure any session would have.  I was just so relieved that my session was over.  The session was mostly about getting students to watch the video through Moodle tricks and class management.  It was mostly geared towards high school and none of the suggestions really applied to my classroom.

Session 4: Math My Pace
I was really excited about this session as it was Carol Mahler's session, who I had seen present 2 years ago about a self paced flipped classroom.  I took a lot of her ideas and ran with them.  So i was pumped to see what she had done to add to her idea.  I felt bad for her as she had some tech issues, but once she got going it was great!  Her ideas and resources are available at http://www.mathmypace.com/  I highly recommend stopping by this site, it is awesome.

Overall the last day was great.  My session went okay, I got some great ideas from other sessions, and I skipped out on the last keynote because my family wanted to grab lunch at a great local restaurant, walk the shores of Lake Superior, and go comic book shopping.  On a side note, free comic book day cost me $60 in comics...  Must be that new math they teach....

Monday, May 5, 2014

MCTM Day 1 PM Sessions

The MCTM (Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics) conference every spring is my PD highlight of the year for face to face sessions.  I always come back with great ideas to use right away and think about for next year.  In fact I usually have so many ideas, I have to take time to organize them so I can actually use them all at some point.  This year I am using this blog to do that.  Here is a quick summary of my afternoon on the first day....

Desmos & Meta Calculator:
This session focused on the online calculators desmos and metacalculator.  The presenter started with a quick summary of metacalculator.  It seems like a great free resource.  It seems like it could almost replace a TI-84 all by itself.

The real focus however was desmos.  The presenter quickly went over the basics and showed us how to do some slider graphs to create animations.  That was pretty cool.  But the real treat was the other activities that desmos has been adding.  Go here to explore some really fun math activities.
Penny Circle, Function Carnival, Desman and Waterline

Flipped JH Math Classroom
This session was called "Even Han Solo had a Wookie."  Its focus was on how this school used a team to determine essential learning targets and align their curriculum with no textbook.  They came from a bigger school and hearing about their meetings with 8-10 teachers trying to agree on "essential standards" sounded like a terrible process.  It made me really appreciate working in a small school where I am the only 7/8 math teacher.  Overall they had some good ideas on flipping and the fact that they presented in a team showed how easily a flipped classroom can be interpreted in different ways.

The Conversation before the Last Session
I got to my last session early and ended up sitting next to a teacher who has presented numerous times.  So as I was getting more nervous about my presentation the next day, I asked him for some advice.  He said some kind words that helped, but then said he was going to present again next year.  He was going to present on his use of this lesson and how he has adapted and expanded it.  It was fascinating.

However the best part was that it created a three-way conversation about the lesson and it could be further expanded.  We came up with some really great ideas involving probability, transformations and inequalities.  This is another great thing I love about MCTM, the side conversations which often are just as fruitful as the session themselves.

Potato Chips & Absolute Value Inequalities
This last session started and the teacher ran one of my favorite kind of sessions.  He basically ran us through a lesson as though we were students, but paused to add commentary from the teacher perspective to help us implement the ideas behind the lesson.

The actual lesson was a brilliant way to give a real world meaning to absolute value inequality.  it made perfect sense, and if I ever taught high school, I would really use this idea.

The main part of the lesson involved starting with a bag of potato chips which says it weighed 42.5 ounces.  Then we talked about how the bag would have to have a range of acceptable weight coming out of the factory.  Then we linked that to the graph and reversed engineered the inequality from the story and then linked it to the graph.  Really good stuff.

At this point I was supposed to go to my district meeting, which I really should go to.  However, my wife and 3 kids were waiting and so we went out on the town in Duluth and had a fabulous night that included supper, live music and toy shopping.

In the next blog:
Bag of Math Tricks
My own session
Engagement in a Flipped Classroom
MathMyPace (self-paced classroom)


Sunday, May 4, 2014

MCTM 2014: Day 1 A.M.

MCTM (Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics)

Just got back from the conference late last night.  It is always a rejuvenating experience.  I come back with great ideas for next year as well as ideas for tomorrow.  I also presented this year, and that went pretty well.  I will post on that later.  Below is a summary of the fabulous sessions I experienced on the morning of day 1.

Day 1 Morning Sessions

Keynote: Cathy Seeley
Overall, the keynote format is tough, but she was good and it was a good reminder of how to get students thinking, and the ways we unintentionally shut down their thinking.  She also talked about the I-We-You model, vs the You-We-I model of teaching.
I will show you.
We will practice
You will do it.

This is compared to
You will try it.
We will discuss it.
I will bring out the math summary.

I thought this was a good and simple way to remember students need to think and discuss mathematics.

Session #1: Peer Instruction Troy & Rob from Byron
Troy and Rob are part of Byron's award winning flipped math classroom.  They discussed how they use peer instruction in class to extend the learning beyond the videos.  I love peer instruction but am kind of a novice at it.  They had some great tips and examples to help me implement this in my classroom better.  blog.peerinstruction.net

Session #2: Sara VanDerWerf talking about Math Pictures
Sara is always a fun and engaging speaker.  She spoke about using pictures to help students engage, discuss  and learn math in a deeper way.  The quote she stressed was "“He who does the most talking, does the most learning.”  She had some great examples of using pictures to get discussion going.  She said phrasing is important to students when looking at a picture and trying to get them to ask questions.  
Phrases she highly recommended:
"How would a mathematician describe this picture?"
"What words would a mathematician use?"
"What do you wonder about this picture?"

She mentioned this amazing video by Annie Fetter.  It is short, and amazing.  She demonstrates simple strategies to get students wondering, thinking, and discussing mathematics.  

The afternoon of Day 1 will come later:
Desmos & MetaCalculator
Flipping a Junior High Math Classroom
Potato Chips & Absolute Value Inequalities
How the small conversations before and after sessions can be just as amazing as the sessions themselves.