Our Favorite Three of #TMC – Middle School Teachers Edition

I am still working on my #TMC13 recap.  I hope it gets finished (fingers crossed but no promises).  There is just so much to say and everyone else has already said it better than I ever could!

So for now, I am going to focus on the favorite sessions of some of the marvelous middle school teachers that attended #TMC13.  I believe we had well over 30 middle school teachers in attendance, out of 107!  That’s not only a great number, but a big improvement from the three middle school teachers we had last year.  So, I sent out an email to the educators that attended the Middle School Morning Session requesting their top three sessions (or “My Favorites”).  If you teach middle school, went to #TMC13, and want to add your 3 favorites, throw them in the comments!  🙂

Almost all material (lessons, Powerpoints, pdf’s) can be found on the Twitter Math Camp wiki.

Justin Aion, @justinaion

  1. Problem solving in MS session run by the beautiful and brilliant Fawn (be still, my nerdy heart). Fawn did a wonderful job giving examples of problems that could solved in multiple ways for middle and high school students.  After working in small groups, she encouraged us not to discuss the answers, but rather our methods, explaining them in simple terms and requiring us to examine our own thinking. I frequently ask students to explain their work to each other, but never to this extent.  It caused me to think about my goals in terms of skills rather than content.  Fawn made the argument, and I completely agree, that problem solving skills are some of the most important that we can foster at a young age.
  2. Glenn Waddell, Jr. session on Problem Posing took an interesting tack on a mundane subject.  Often, we are told to find more interesting problems in order to help students understand abstract concepts, but Glenn’s review of The Art of Problem Posing flipped that concept on it’s head.  He, and the book, advocate taking very basic problems, breaking them into their attributes, modifying only attribute at a time and then examining the results and making generalizations.  All too often students can solve 2x+1=5 without a problem, but 2x+3=5 will send them into fits of panic and distress.  By generalizing how a certain attribute affects the outcome of a problem, students are able to break things down into simpler terms and, hopefully, relieve some of their math anxiety.
  3. The Lesson Plan writing session by Karim from Mathalicious provided me with a framework from which I could develop my own rich, applicable lessons.  One of my shortcomings as a teacher is in lesson planning, partly because I need a framework in which to create and a rubric in which to do self-evaluation.  By demonstrating how the Mathalicious team creates their lessons and then leading a discussion about that process, I was able to put my own lesson goals into their model and use it a jumping off point.  The ensuing discussion with other teachers and Karim also helped to clarify goals for a particular lesson.  If the goal is discovery of a topic, the teacher would ask very different questions of the students than if the goal were depth and application.

Adrienne Shlagbaum, @shlagteach

  1. My Favorites: 4 to 1 – As a lover of all things whiteboard, Jen Crase’s favorite was right up my alley! Students simultaneously solve questions, each answering in one of four sections on the board. The sum of the responses is then recorded in the center box. Simply check the center box. Groups with an incorrect sum work together to find and fix the error. What an awesome way to engage all students in practice!
  2. MS Math Session – Aside from making some great connections and meeting some incredible people, my biggest take away from the session (thanks, Fawn!) was the importance of incorporating problem solving into the classroom routine and not making it an afterthought. Relevance to the current concept or topic not required!
  3. I Notice, I Wonder – Who knew that two little questions could lead to such rich discussion?! Max demonstrated that regardless of the simplicity or complexity of the problem, everyone has something to contribute. Furthermore, by recording every response, everyone’s ideas are valued. Use at the beginning, middle or end of a task, and is a rich feedback opportunity.

Mitzi Hasegawa, @mmhasegawa

  1. Max Ray’s presentation ” I notice…..I wonder….. “
  2. Fawn Nguyen’s problem solving and the game of Set.  I wasn’t able to attend the session where she introduced the game, but found an app.  I’d love to read anyone’s notes/blog to hear what she had to say and how she uses it in her class.
  3. Ashli Black’s from numbers to variables with number lines–fantastic stuff!

Lydia Kirkman @lydiakirkman
Blog – coming soon!

  1. Max’s “I notice, I wonder” – even if they have no idea how to solve a problem, EVERY student can notice and wonder.
  2. Megan’s INB session – I’ve used math notebooks for the past few years but Megan’s hints, tips and suggestions have made me so excited about the power student’s notebooks can have. I can’t wait to try out her ideas and to collaborate with others on #inbjamboree!
  3. Fawn’s problem solving! – Thanks to her I’m determined to have problem solving take a front position in my classroom this year! Looking forward to incorporating Mathalicious and Math Forum resources!

Judy Keeney, @judithkeeney

  1. MS morning sessions: The small group break out sessions-where we could dig into an interesting topic. Would have loved to have had a bit more time.
  2. Number Lines with Ashli Black. The push to move into variables and support for kids to experience variables at a more concrete level.
  3. Christopher Danielson’s talk on 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. It was great to participate in a session about a practice that I use (and have for awhile), and have my thinking stretched about other possibilities.
  4. Fawn’s problem solving-the tasks, the protocol she uses with kids—fabulous
Raj Shah
  1. Problem Solving with Fawn
  2. Notice & Wonder – Max Ray
  3. Two my favorites — Chris Lusto What is a… Circle & Three kinds of questions, David Wees, questions that stop thinking, proximity, and start thinking.

Julie Reulbach, @jreulbach, Me!

  1. Middle School Morning Sessions.  This was a win-win for me!  I worked in a fabulous group and the fabulous Eli from Desmos even taught us (well maybe just me) some physics. I loved Problem Solving in MS Session with Fawn.  She is my hero and I just want to visit her classroom for a month so I can be less sucky at problem solving. I’m still scared to death but encouraged to try after being with her for two mornings.  I loved that she suggested giving them manipulatives when problem solving.  We also got to hear Chris Danielson speak about what student’s will need for Calculus.  He is absolutely amazing. I feel I got so much out of these sessions but needed still more time!
  2. Ashli Black’s variables on the number line.  I currently use a blank number line at the beginning of 6th grade for fractions.  Putting variables on the number line is a perfect next step and a great extension of the previous activity.  I also liked how much discussion there was in this hour and makes me rethink about cramming too much into an hour!
  3. Mathalicious MS – I did a Pizza Project Pilot with them this past spring and my student ate it up so I couldn’t pass this up.  I still can’t stop thinking about ice.  But even more crucial was that we though about how we would plan the lesson before we saw how they planned it.  I felt that gave me much more depth than just reading how they did it like I usually do!   I need to remember this when lesson planning.
  4. My Favorites – I had THREE favorites!  Jen Crase’s Four Boxes.  I play this currently (and call it Add It Up) but she had two extra elements that were very interesting.  One was that she put all the questions on a ppt instead of on a worksheet.  That saves me time and paper!  Two, she labeled the boxes from one to four and assigned kids numbers according to problem difficulty.
    AND Anne and her terrific, “SHUT UP AND LISTEN!” Which I never do bc I’m either talking or singing all of the time.
    Ok, so I can’t count.  But I also can’t leave out Nicole Paris and her orangemellows. I talk about not making apple bananas all of the time but it never occurred to me to have students put them in a bag together and shake them up. Duh.

7 thoughts on “Our Favorite Three of #TMC – Middle School Teachers Edition

  1. I just posted my recap (a little late, I know!) http://orangamallows.blogspot.com .
    Specific to our middle school group in addition to my blog post…I really did like the discussions that went on while we were doing our problem solving session- it is so important to let students try out their own strategies and then be able to share them out…so many fantastic ways to approach these rich problems.
    I’m so looking forward to teaching this year and brainstorming ideas before teaching and sharing ideas after I try them out!

  2. Pingback: MS Favorite Three from TMC | Out of the Zone

  3. For those of us coming late to this party, can someone direct me to some intro information to TMC?? This old dog would like some new tricks 🙂

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