New beginnings and #TMC14 Day 1

So it is time to revive my too-long dead blog.  I just became a little overwhelmed with everything that came from being in a new environment, teaching my first year, and putting a few other responsibilities on myself, my blogging just slipped last year.  #TMC14 has given me a renewed energy for great teaching and innovation in my classroom.  This seemed like a good time restart my blog and set a challenge for myself.  In reflecting, I was trying to make my blog posts too involved and just too long.  The challenge to myself is to do a mini-blog everyday; just a little note about something going on in my classroom.  I will then expand on one topic every Sunday morning.  I think having this structure will help me keep accountable and get my into a rhythm of blogging.

With all of that out of the way, as I mentioned above, I am in Jenks, OK at #TMC14 and it has been an overwhelming experience to meet all of the other teachers with such a passion for innovative math instruction.  It has been great to put avatars with faces, and I cannot believe the passion present in these rooms.

I thought a little about some of the other sessions in the morning, but the middle school session always seemed to make the most sense.  I felt very affirmed by the discussions of use of games for number sense and sense making in the middle school classroom, as it is something I try to use often.  Discussions about how to use games, like review games vs. skills strengthen games vs. games for teaching concepts pushed to me to consider using them in ways outside of review or eating up some extra time.  The ways Justin(@justinaion) and Max(@maxmathforum) presented how to consider the use of games challenged me to be more intentional about my use of games.  I am stoked about where we can take this game development idea over the next couple of days.

The keynote speaker was also very affirming for me.  I always felt pulled to middle school because I felt the mathematics was important and it was a final checkpoint before students progressed into the scary world of Algebra I-Geometry-Algebra II, etc.  Steve’s (@steve_leinwand) words about how important we as a group of people are, as well as alternate solving solutions and the basic necessity of ratio and proportion concepts rang very true to me, and I hope to bring these ideas back to my school with not just myself, but my whole faculty.

Chris’ (@pispeak) session about debating in mathematics way eye opening to say the least.  As he stated, you see debate in other classrooms, where opinions can vary on different ideas, but I had not considered how you can apply this in a math classroom until today.  I love this as a structure to allow students a little more comfort in explaining their solving methods, and a way to use vocabulary in the classroom.  I cannot wait to apply this as I move forward.

Kathryn’s (@iisanumber) session on math maintenance was exactly what I was looking for in a way to include review and test prep in my classroom.  I know that standardized tests are a reality, and I know that I need to up my acknowledgement of them in my classroom.  This structure is going to allow me to include work on these as well as fill the gap in my beginning class routine which was lacking last year.

The thing I am most taken by is the conversations that I have found in non-structured times.  A discussion of the usefulness of poker in probability on the walk to the high school, a lunch-time discussion of a catapult project, making two points change places on a body-scale number line, computer programming and occam’s razor discussion on the walk back and a very involved dinner conversation about keynotes and everything else under the sun are just some of the highlights that I can think of off the top of my head.  Everyone has been nice, accepting, and just willing to allow you into a conversation and will converse with you about any mathematics concept.  I feel like I have found a bunch of allies and a support system that will push me to innovate and persist as I keep working to become a better teacher.  I look forward to new adventures on day two!  Time for 9:00 my favorites.



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