#TMC13 my take-a-ways


I have started this post and deleted it multiple times this week.


I have read so many others’ posts – all different approaches and points of view.

TMC involves so many aspects – it is surely impossible to entail it all.

TMC is so many things to so many people.

I sat this morning, flipping through my notes, still feeling overwhelmed with all the few days in Philly offered and asking what parts of TMC will have the greatest impact on my classroom this year?

No big surprise that My Favorites remains My Favorite.  What I appreciate most is that 5 minutes feels doable and offers an opportunity to share for some who are just dipping their toes in the water…


When Nicole asked what was in the bag…the look on Anne & Rachel’s faces said it all- “Well, duh.  Isn’t it obvious what’s in the bag?”  Its taken me a while to truly realize what seems obvious to me, usually, won’t be obvious to my students.  I must consider what the lesson looks like from a non-mathy brain perspective.  How will what I’m doing / saying look to my students?  I appreciate her orange-mellow model for combining like terms.  Yes, its obvious to me and you, but using her simple model will likely make it more obvious for our students.  I will definitely share this will my colleagues in lower grades.

I was wondering – for operations with irrational numbers – would the same idea work…possibly let a student choose an amount of marshmallows, say 5, then take a bite out of another marshmallow.  How many marshmallows do they have?  More than 5, less than 6 but not quite sure of the exact amount.


David Wees impressed the importance of Wait Time – something we’ve all heard about and know but still it just feels awkward when trying to be intentional.  He also discussed 3 types of questions students ask – Stop Thinking – question students ask when they want the answer, so they can stop thinking and move on.  Proximity – you are nearby…he suggests to stop answering these two types.  The third – start thinking – those questions that will lead to more thinking…are the ones we should focus our time on.  My thoughts are to take some time to process a student question – determining which type it is, then responding appropriately.  David is scheduled for Global Math this fall – take some time out and attend this meeting!

You Be the Ref

I have used different types of tasks that ask students to look for and address mistakes, but I liked Adrienne’s take on this idea.  Not telling students which are correct / incorrect in a set of problems with solutions – but allowing them to decide, explain the mistake, then do the problem correctly.

4 to 1

Jenn Crase shared a placemat activity called 4 to 1.  The idea is to have students placed in groups of 4, they solve a give problem, add their answers and teacher checks this one.  If its incorrect, its not telling them which one has made the mistake – but forces them as a group to determine where their mistake is.  I also like how she used assigning problem #’s to specific students as a differentiation strategy.  This is a very versatile task.

What is a ________ ?

I will definitely using this idea shared by Chris Lusto.  Allowing students to create definitions, his example was a circle.  Then asking classmates to create a figure that matches the given definition, but is not a circle.  I can see some fun discussions coming out of this – by taking the time to observe student responses, then selecting and sequencing them to share-out with the class.  I must add a side not here – I was very impressed with Chris’ excitement as he shared.  Seeing him speak in person, it was obvious his excitement for the math education and creating engaging learning opportunities for students.


Another person who impressed me with their passion for education was Eli Luberoff.  His face lit up with a huge smile when faced with reactions from the crowd of teachers.  He was excited to share the cool new things desmos is offering our students.  I really loved when he said they print off tweets and shout-outs from classroom teachers – posting them on a board to serve as their inspiration…we are why they do what they do.  I left with a new appreciation for Eli and his amazing team.

Dan Goldner

This session was nothing like I expected.  Yet, it still has me thinking about my classroom and how my decisions may / may not match what I think my educational values are.  It seemed almost that Dan did nothing except intro the activity – yet what he did had every single person in that room thinking, deeply at 5:00 pm on a Friday afternoon.  Our task was to look at 6 different classroom teachers and their policy/procedures – looking at what each scenario told us – and also what we felt it said about what they valued in their classroom/students.  He is scheduled for Global Math in September, I believe – mark your calendars.  I plan to share the same activity we used in his session with my department/colleagues.  The only thing I believe could have improved the session – more time to have carried on those conversations we began.    Take some time to look up the resources we used.  Its a great use of time for reflection on your classroom practices.

Again, there are so many more take-a-ways from TMC13 but these are the ones I feel will have the greatest impact for student learning as I begin a new year next Wednesday.






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