Reflections on #TMC14

After a couple of days of reflection, vacationing, and reading, I have some ideas coming out of TMC14.

The first portion of this post is going to be my reaction to some of the conversations coming out of the conference.  The thoughts started rolling in my head with this blog post by @thescamdog and the subsequent comment by @ddmeyer: link

I think this is good, constructive criticism.  Having an explanation of why something is our favorite could be very beneficial to the MTBoS at large.  I also happen to give a My Favorite, and there has been some other chatter that made me think even more about what I presented, so I thought I would give a little space here for that.

I presented on how I use card games in the classroom.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it, those games will be posted up on the Middle School part of the TMC14 wiki (Middle School) hopefully by the end of the weekend.  So, to satiate Dan and John, why do I like using card games?  I like practice.  I come from a classical music background, so I am eminently familiar with practice.  One thing I sometimes struggle with the MTBoS community has been that we come up with really cool “teaching” activities where students create their own ways and learn new things, but I often miss where students get to practice their skills.  Games allow for us to put practice into a more enjoyable package for students, while also making sure they are getting the repetitive practice they need to master a skill.  I was actually heartened when I read this comment and portion of Dan’s post (link).  I like to see my students play skill building games because I know some of them are not getting quality practice at home, so I at least know they are practicing some at school when we play games.

If you gave a My Favorite at TMC, and you have a blog, give Dan and John what they want and take a post to explain the why of your My Favorite presentation.

What else did I take away from TMC?  By tweaking @iisanumber’s Math Maintenance to fit my own school situation, I finally have a routine I am comfortable starting each class with, and it will meet a few needs of my students that I have been struggling with.  Also, I am going to try random groupings and some work on non-permanent vertical work surfaces (I cannot currently remember who I talked about with this and who presented on it) as well as creating homework that has 10 or fewer quality problems as I was discussing the effectiveness of that with someone as well.  I am sure there are other lessons I heard about that will spark things in me as well, but those are the ones that stick out the most.

Mostly what TMC did for me was get me re-energized and thinking about math teaching again.  I had a rough end to the year and even a rough beginning to the summer, but now I feel like I am ready to get back in there and make some positive changes.  I hope after some good reflection, you all feel the same as well.


4 comments on “Reflections on #TMC14

  1. Dan Meyer says:

    Nice! I missed your favorite but I’m catching the gist now and the extra background on your students’ lack of good practice opportunities at home only increases its value for me.

  2. Meg says:

    Ha, I have the exact same goals about this new year as you! Even though I’m teaching higher level, I want to bring in card games because (a) like your students, they still need the practice and (b) it helps when you get to probability – so many kids have no knowledge of card decks. Thanks for a great write up!

  3. I like more compelling ways to have students practice than just worksheet or textbook questions. Kate Nowak’s speed dating and row games are two of my favorites. I’ve used them with kids and they do engage.

    And, for the record, Dan threw me under the bus. My original post was looking for more of the why in the longer sessions. I hadn’t even considered that for My Favorites. I don’t need the theory behind why I would use equation editor shortcuts. The answer is plain. It’s because it will save me time and make my life easier.

    • I have to check out Kate’s stuff. I wonder if her row game is the one I found last year and have been using.

      I think it was fine for Dan to ask. Obviously there are some presentations that don’t have a why question (keeping organized or like you said equation shortcuts) but I think a few could do a little more with some explanation of why we like them.

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