TMC – People Just Like Me!

I just spent five of the most amazing days of my life at “Twitter Math Camp 2012” or #TMC12.  I have been anxious to blog about it since I came home.  However, I have also been simply overwhelmed with all that it was.  I doubt that I can convey to any reader the enormity of this experience, or how much it has changed me and help me grow as a teacher.  I feel like the best way for interested teachers to get a true sense of what  #TMC12 really was about, is to read all of our posted experiences and quilt them together (links to other blogs at end).

When trying to explain this conference to my non-teaching friends, I tell them.  “Think about the best teachers that you ever had.  Put them all in one room.  Ask them to all tell you their best ideas and strategies.  Listen in awe.  Take tons of notes.  Learn from the best.”  This was a meeting of the most creative, innovative, and inspired educators that I have ever been privileged enough to know.  Everything said this week was important, and relevant, and will directly help me with my students this year.  In fact, I will be lucky if I can even try out a fourth of the things that I leaned about at Twitter Math Camp.  These teachers are doing amazing things in the classroom.

How was I lucky enough to be part of this?  I am an impassioned educator who loves to talk about teaching math, all the time.  Just ask my family, I drive them crazy.  Thankfully, I found a bevy of great folks on Twitter to talk about teaching math, 24/7.  Since I found them a couple of years ago, we have talked practically non-stop about teaching math, planned lessons together, given each other great ideas, participated in book studies, and generally just supported each other through the thick and thin of teaching.  I love to talk to them because they love to teach as much, if not more, than I do.  They are always working, planning, wondering, and thinking up new ideas for their students and their classrooms.  They are all brilliant, and fun to talk to as well!  So much fun in fact, that we all started talking about getting together, to meet, in real life.  It started out almost like a joke, and I pushed hard for a cruise.  I even made a wiki page for the cruise!  But, time passed and we went back to our crazy, hectic, teacher lives.  At least until two amazing teachers, Lisa and Shelli, actually decided to do something about it.  Thus, #TMC12 was born.

I have been to multiple conferences in my many years of teaching.  This was by far the best PD (professional development) that I have ever attended.  What made #TMC12 so much different, so much better?  The key was that this was a teacher’s conference, by us, for us.  We knew what we needed.  We cut straight to the point in our presentations.  There was no wasted time.  I appreciated that and really felt like these amazing teachers are my people.  They understand me and knew what I needed.  They don’t think I am weird for wanting to talk about teaching all the time.  They can’t wait to discuss a great idea as well.  And we never stopped talking about teaching.  We talked about it over breakfast, all day long, at lunch, dinner, and even when we were hanging out at night.  And we had so much fun at night!  After a whole day of cramming our brains full or math and teaching ideas, we loved hanging out together even more at night.  But we never tired of talking about teaching!  We could be in the middle of a song, have an idea, and stop singing to talk about it immediately.  One verse later, we would jump right back in to singing (or dancing) again.  We even talked about education up until the very last minute, when we waited, together, for our departing flights in the airport.  Education was our undercurrent.

I learned more in these 5 days that I have in a year of reading blogs.  At the end of each session, poor Lisa had to cut us off.  We were so excited about each presenters ideas that we would have talked for hours.  My educational highlights for the week included:

  • Talking about how students learn, developing new lesson ideas, and learning new ways to present slope with the Math 1 folks.
  • Learning about many more uses for whiteboards. (Mistake camp).
  • Daily Favorite Things sessions (which will continue through the year via blogs – YEAH!)
  • Developing ideas for how video can be used to improve the classroom instead of just  “flipping” it.
  • Collaborating post-session with multiple teachers about the best way to represent integer subtraction.
  • Many side conversations about homework
  • Giving ownership back to the students including numerous ways to get students talking about math and working together in math class.
  • Interactive Notebook Nirvana
  • Meeting people (not related to me), that had actually read my blog.
  • Discovering (in the airport) that even teachers I greatly admire wonder if they are good teachers.  It made me feel so much better about my teaching and my failures.
  • Technology, technology, technology.  I may never even have a chance to try all of the amazing new websites that I learned about!  I wish I had taken better notes (thanks Rachel).
  • Math club collaboration
  • Marshmallow guns shoot much harder (and farther) than you think.
  • Having FUN in presentations with the presenters (even if it was off topic or off color sometimes) 
  • Jinx Tweets!  When people would think about the same thing, at the same time, and tweet it.  It was unreal how much this happened.  Our brains work alike.

My personal highlights:

  • Bonding with people immediately even though I was so nervous about going and talking to people I had never met IRL.
  • Finally meeting everyone that I had been tweeting for years with and discovering that they were all exactly like their tweets!
  • Just that feeling that you have when you are surrounded by people that totally get you, and still like you, for who you REALLY are.  
  • Doing “The Squirm” with my math class song mentor, Sean.  He even offered to write me a song for my class (love).  
  • Finding several other teachers that wear their purse cross body, on the right side.
  • Making stupid jokes that people laughed at bc they have my same weird sense of humor.
  • Feeling comfortable being as loud as I wanted to be.  (Thank you all for putting up with me).
  • Having an enormous group of people who also sing at random just because they hear two words that makes them think of a song. (Actually, having tons of people who would just sing with me, at random, whenever I started singing.  I didn’t even have to ASK!)
  • Going around in a giant group – EVERYWHERE.  
  • Square dancing on the sidewalk in the middle of lunch just because we thought of it.
  • Teaching a movie theater full of people to dance before a movie – and everyone did since my friends were all into it.
  • A whole world of people that are as obsessed with office supply stores as I am!  
  • Dressing up like Sam 
  • Getting less sleep than I did in college because I never wanted to stop talking to these amazing people about math and teaching!
  • Generally just being around people that are CRAZY fun, more crazy fun than I ever thought people could be.
  • TWEET ME MAYBE! (thanks for the extra credit Sean)

Things Most Frequently Heard at #TMC12

My only regret was that even though I stretched every day to the limit, I did not have enough time to talk in depth with all of the people that I wanted to talk to.  Everywhere I looked fascinating conversations were happening all around me.  It was almost impossible not to get completely immersed and remember to move around.  I’ll definitely be coming back to #TMC13 to pick up where I left off.

I felt like I was with people that “got me”.  And I loved that many of the Twitter Math Campers even thought the way that I did.   In fact, if I said (rather sang) this blog post title out loud (TMC – People Just LIke Me!), I now know a few people, IN REAL LIFE, who would sing, “You’re down with OPP, Ya you know me!” in their heads, if not OUT LOUD, with me.  They are smart, fun, quirky, real, and down to earth people who truly care about other people and are willing to sacrifice fame and fortune to change the world.  They care about education, they are serious about their jobs, and they love their students.  They are an amazing group of math teachers.

If you are a math teacher out there who wants MORE, then I implore you to explore Twitter and start reading blogs. We will help (Twitter/Blog newbie website coming soon)!  In fact, if you don’t tweet, you should definitely read the words to this song that Sean, Rachel, Sam, Dave, and Bowman wrote at #TMC12.  It should resonate with you.  We want to help you!  So, “Tweet Me Maybe” at @jreulbach!

Tweet Me Maybe

by Rachel Kernodle, Sean Sweeney, Sam Shah, David Peterson and Bowman Dickson

I sat alone in my class,
Hoping my students would pass,
Prepping was kicking my ass
But help was on the way

I started searching the net,
To find a way to connect
Found teachers I’d never met
and I was on my way

Dan’s blog was poppin’,
G-Reader, feed not stoppin’
Each day, I would drop-in
Guess it’s time for hop in!

Hey, I just found you, And this is crazy,
But here’s my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

It’s hard to reach out, Please don’t flame me,
But here’s my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

Hey, I just found you, And this is crazy
But here’s my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

It’s hard to reach out, Please don’t flame me,
But here’s my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

Oh holy crap can it be,
Nowak responded to me,
Blogging math celebrity,
She’s twitter royalty

I beg, and borrow and steal
No reinventing the wheel,
What are these urges I feel?
Nerdy math sex appeal

Hal-lo-ween was awesome
Dull worksheets, I could toss ‘em
My, i-deas could blossom

Now it’s time for Math Camp, baby!

Hey, I just met you, all in person.
Twitter Math Camp, this was the first one

It’s hard to teach right, in i-so-laaaaaation,
So here’s some PD, just like va-ca-tion

Hey, I just met you, all in person.
Twitter Math Camp, this was the first one
It’s hard to teach right, in i-so-laaaaaaation,
So here’s some PD, just like va-ca-tion

Before I came onto your sites,
I must’ve taught so bad,
I must’ve taught so bad,
I must’ve taught so so bad

Before I came onto your sites
I must’ve taught so bad
and you should know that
It was so, so sad

I loved free pizza, and the brew-ry.
You know my ID, So tweet me, maybe?

Ci-ty Muse-um, or the Card’s game,
So tweet me sometime, I won’t be too lame

So, thank you Shelli, thank you Li-sa.
Don’t want to go home – so glad to meet ya

Now that it’s coming to an end
we’ll miss you so bad
we’ll miss you so bad
we’ll miss you so, so bad

Before you came into our lives
We must’ve taught so bad
And you should know that.

So tweet me, maybe?

Other Blog Posts About TMC12 – These are the blogs that have been written as of today.  If you have written a blog about TMC12, please put the link in the comments so I won’t miss you!

Dance Steps to Solving Multi-Step Equations

I totally stole this from the amazing Sean (thanks Sean!). But, I could not resist!  It is right up my teaching alley with all of the singing and dancing!  I changed some of the words to suit the steps that I have my students use.  We added motions too, like the CLAW (aka distributive property)!  I was able to integrate with our dance teacher.  She organized the students and cleaned up their steps.  We even added a checkmark formation at the end!  (Yes, that is what they are doing if you can’t tell.  Checkmarks are hard to make!)  Of course I made a video of their performance and then an iMovie to share.  But, I did not get around to having my students Flash Mob this in the carpool line after school.  There is always next year!

Man, I love my job.

Dance Steps to Solving Multi-Step Equations

First you clear your fractions, LCD and CLAW action!

Then you distribute and you do the CLAW scoot!

Then you simplify, put your hands up in the sky!

Then you combine like terms and you do the squirm.

Add and subtract, x-terms alone on one side, so take a step back and do a big slide.

Multiply and divide, the answer you will learn when you jump to the left and do a full turn.

Now, check, check, check, check, check,……..

Equation of a Line Song

Today we recorded the two songs that we have been singing lately.  I made up a slope-intercept song that is sung to the tune of YMCA.  We also did  Sweeney’s “Dance Steps to Solving an Equation”.

For the occasion, I was lucky enough to find a really fun Slope-Intercept form t-shirt.  I even had a pair of primary colored “chalkboard” Converse hi-tops that actually matched my shirt.  Yessss, I was in total “math teacher” mode and loving every minute of it.

I decided to try my hand at iMovie tonight.  It was great fun!  I started the movie with a picture of my students.  The YMCA intro music is rather long so I decided to included the pictures of their finished “Slope Man” projects.  Then, comes all of the action!  Their “Equation of a Line” song and dance!

I will post our version of “Dance Steps to Solving An Equation of a Line” soon!

The Equation of a Line song is sung to the tune of YMCA.  The words are below, watch the movie for the motions.

Y = Mx + B,

Equation of a line!

Y = Mx + B

Puff, puff positive,

Nice negative,

Zero slope

And undefined!

Equation of a Line Song!

I used the Y in the song YMCA to help my students remember that the y-axis was vertical.  So, what could be the next step except for a song and dance about the equation of a line using the YMCA!  My students really enjoyed singing about fractions, so I wanted to sing and even dance this time!  I know that I am not breaking any new ground here, but my students are fabulous so I wanted to share our version!  We just learned it today so it’s a little rough, but I rarely have both 6th grades together for class so I had to video them today.

I downloaded a karaoke version of the YMCA from iTunes for accompaniment.  We only sang our song to the chorus of the YMCA so luckily, I found a version that started with the chorus!  Of course when we went outside to practice (and video) I couldn’t get the music to play.  But, we’ll do this again for sure!

Equation of a Line Song
(Sung to the chorus of YMCA)
Edited to add a new verse, 2014

y = mx + b, Equation of a line!
y = mx + b…
Puff, puff positive. Nice negative,
0 slope, And undefined

y = mx + b,  Equation of a line!
y = mx + b…
Begin at the B.  Rise and then run.
Connect the points, to graph the line!

That’s all!  Enjoy!  🙂

My Sixth Grade Class Sings the Fraction Song

I think that singing is an amazing way to remember something.  My students can do each section of the fractions lesson.  However, when we put it all together, they get it mixed up.  They want to add the denominators when adding because you multiply them together when multiplying.  I wanted to make a fractions song that incorporated addition/subtraction as well as multiplication and division.

There are many fraction songs on the internet that are amazing.  I especially like the “I Will Divide” one that is played to guitar.  It is very creative!  I even found some fraction rap songs online.  However, I did not want an entire fraction “ballad”, just a few short catchy stanzas that would (hopefully) stick in the kids heads.

I have not been my most creative self lately as being a “first year” teacher is taking it’s toll on me this year.  However, I was able to pull together some words to my own fraction song once I decided on a melody.  I used the classic, “Skip To My Lou”.  I like to use the simple melodies that they learned when they were little.  And I like to have repetition.

The Fraction Song
Sung to “Skip To My Lou”

Adding fractions LCD
Equivalent fractions each will be
Denominators stay the same
Numerators add some fame!

Simplify then multiply,
Simplify then multiply.
Times the bottom and the top,
It’s so fun that you can’t stop!

Dividing fractions is so fun!
Keep, Change, Flip the second one.
Simplify THEN mulitiply
Simplify THEN mulitiply

After learning it they wanted to do a “Fraction Parade” around campus, but we were really loud so I had them just parade around the room.  I found a tamborine in the office at school and that just added to the fun!

I made a foldable to go along with the song (Fraction Song Foldable).  I do an example problem on the inside.
Enjoy!