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)


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