For Teachers: #TMC18 Morning Session Wrap-Up & Reflections

I want to reflect publicly on the amazing experience that was #TMC18.  This was my third Twitter Math Camp, and I get more out of the experience every time I attend.  I am grateful to Dave Sabol, St. Ignatius High School, Lisa Henry, and the entire TMC planning committee for their hard work and dedication.  Thank you all.

If I try to include all the social stuff in this summary, I am determined to leave someone out that was really important to me during this past week.  So I’ll leave it at:  I enjoyed catching up on new friendships and making new ones, and am very grateful for so many of you and the role you play not just in my math teaching career, but in my life. Y’all my peeps.

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MORNING SESSION:  Sports Analytics

Sooo…this happened.

I went out on a thin and rather wobbly limb this year and submitted to present a morning session.  For those not familiar with TMC, morning session presenters need 6 hours of material and the participants are dedicating a huge chunk of their TMC learning time to diving deeply into a single topic strand.  I chose to present on my Sports Analytics curriculum that I’ve been developing for the past three or four years.   I knew this was risky because it’s not the type of material that teachers typically attend professional development session to learn about (let alone committing 6 hours of their time).  It’s not exactly standards-driven.  It’s kind of nebulous as to what class this stuff belongs in (High School Stats?  Except I use it in Middle School Pre-Algebra and in a summer camp?!) I was doubly sure almost nobody would attend when I saw the list of morning sessions and wanted to cancel my own to attend three or four of the other ones instead.  I was triply sure when I saw a second statistics-based morning session, led by two #MTBoS and TMC Superstars (Bob and Glenn).  I was fairly sure that TMC in general didn’t have the appetite for that much statistics, and that most who did would (rightly!) choose their session instead of mine.

So imagine my joy when 9 people showed up on Day 1!

I am so grateful for every one of these individuals.  These were all talented colleagues who totally bought in to the playful nature of these activities, while also expressing the willingness to think hard about the experience their students would have while working these same activities.  If you want to see the activities we did, you can look here, but I want to spend this space summarizing my thanks to all of the attendees over our three days together (10 people total, listed alphabetically):

Casey:  I consider Casey one of the true leaders of the #MTBoS and TMC communities.  I assumed when she learned there were no NFL activities planned for our week that she would find something better to do 🙂  — I’m very grateful for her attendance and support.  As a fellow Middle School teacher, Casey sometimes expresses a lack of confidence in her higher-level math abilities (I know that fear, as that high-level stuff can get really rusty really quickly);  Casey was a bit concerned about what would be required in this session.  However, the work she did with her various partners was incredible, and I appreciated her questions and buy-in.  Her “My Favorite” was also one of my favorites.  I’m grateful for Casey, her vulnerability and honesty, her leadership in our community, and her skill as a math teacher and (yes, Casey) as a mathematician.

Claire:  A teacher who has been in Guatemala for the past couple of years and will be teaching in Egypt next year came to a morning session on American sports?!  AND ACTUALLY PLANS TO IMPLEMENT SOME OF THIS STUFF WITH HER STUDENTS?!  Be still my heart.  Claire reviewed A LOT of my curriculum and found some activities she felt more comfortable with leading her students in (Volleyball and infographics!) and asked good questions about them.  Oh, and she also came up with phenomenal answers on the activities we were working on in our session.  I can’t wait to hear how it goes in her new school.  Thanks Claire!

Connie:  Connie missed our first day due to attending another conference, but didn’t miss a beat integrating herself on Days 2 and 3.  Connie asked some really great questions that have me considering how to make this material “more inclusive”.  I need to look at the demographics of certain activities (like the Baseball Hall of Fame activity).  I probably need to provide teachers a “framework” for each of these activities so they can modify it for teams in their geographic region.  I need to find small, scalable ways to increase not just MY students’ buy-in, but student buy-in for any student anywhere.  I also appreciate that Connie and Claire presented their Hall of Fame work on the day after — their work was valued  and I was thrilled to hear about it, even if we didn’t have time from everyone on the day-of.

Daniel:  I was so excited to see Daniel when he walked in.  If he was grateful I greeted him by name, I was equally grateful that he even considered showing up to my session.  This is someone I didn’t get to spend much (any?) time with in Atlanta at TMC17 and was thrilled that I’d get to work with him more closely this time around.  Daniel was enthusiastic and thoughtful, and tackled these activities with the same joy that many of my most ardent sports fan students tackle them.  The fact that he was inspired to do a My Favorite about his experience with Sports Analytics (will post a link to the video when it is published) is all the validation I need for planning the whole crazy session.  This is someone I am hopeful to work with a lot in the future.  #sweetlou

Dave: So, my hope has always been that these Sports Analytics activities are “scalable”.  I hope students with almost no stats background (6th graders) can tackle them successfully, but I also hope students in AP stats could engage with the material as well.  Dave’s work this week helped really demonstrate that.  He took his prodigious Desmos skills and used them for high-end solutions to many of these activities.  It was absolutely inspiring.  The fact that he wants to collaborate on more activities and wants to help me stretch the ones that I currently have is a tremendous honor. (BTW:  If you have the same desire, reach out to me!) . Dave is one of the good ones, and I was glad to hang out with him a lot outside of our morning session too.  See you in KC!

David:  My fellow Tennessean David ABSOLUTELY BLEW EVERYONE’S MINDS on the NHL activity we did on Day 3.  It would take a lot of text and context to describe the exact connection he made, but suffice to say jaws dropped and gasps were audibly exhaled when he helped others see that connection as well. I learned a lot from peering over his shoulder and speaking to him while he worked on these activities — I have some new ways to explain some of these concepts to my students thanks to him.  This is a sharp, young teacher who is going to be a leader in our profession in short order.  Come see me in Nashville if you’re ever passing through!

Hedge:  Those of you who saw my My Favorite at TMC17 know that Hedge is a mentor and inspiration to me in the field of statistics education.  This TMC is ANOTHER debt that I owe to her, as I would have never, ever considered applying for this morning session without her encouragement.  OK, fine, she demanded that I do it and I am a little scared of her but still…she was right.  This was exactly what I needed to help engage this curriculum with a new/different audience.  There are improvements coming to this stuff BECAUSE I put it out there in this way.  It seems that a large percentage of attendees were happy with the session and found value in it.   I want to thank Hedge for encouraging (forcing) me to apply for this morning session.  Thanks (again), Hedge…I’m so grateful.  Also, no surprise — her work on the activities was phenomenal.  Despite her initial trepidations about her ability as a Mississippian to “get” the NHL activity, she was tenacious and stuck with it and ended up a fan of the sport — and an expert — despite herself.

Jon:  Another fellow Tennessean, Jon came to our first day together and then decided to diversify his experience at TMC with a different morning session on Days 2 and 3.  I really enjoyed having him on Day 1, and thought the work he did with David and Megan was phenomenal.  I absolutely LOVE that TMC encourages you to go “find what you need” in regards to the sessions, and to “vote with your feet”.  I hope you found something else amazing, Jon, and you’re welcome to reach out about anything 7th grade as I’m stationed there too!

Megan:  First of all, the number of women teachers who attended this session was absolutely inspiring to me.  I did NOT want this session to turn into a bro-fest (like my summer camp on this topic frequently does) and it was in fact the opposite — we had more women than men in the session.  Thanks to ALL of you.  Second, Megan ran a 4-mile race on Day 3 before our session, and came in with her medal a few minutes into our session.  WHOA!  Third, Megan’s father is a MLB lifer who probably looks slightly askance at a lot of this data/math stuff that’s been infiltrating his sport for the last while.  The fact that she picked her morning session out of “pure interest” is inspiring in itself; the fact that she says she was “enraptured” by the time we spent together is an honor I’ll not soon forget.  Thanks for your engagement and encouragement, Megan.  I look forward to seeing you at future TMCs.  You are appreciated!

Steve:  So I was a bit star-struck when I sat with Steve on the first morning before any session started.  This guy is a #MTBoS/GeoGebra heavyweight and I’ve been a fan of his stuff for a long time.  Then he recognized me as the one presenting the Sports Analytics morning session.  THEN HE ATTENDED MY SESSION!  Like Dave above, he demonstrated the scalability of this material, and I’m grateful.  Like Dave, he wants to collaborate on some activities after he checks out the whole curriculum.  That’s so exciting for me.  Steve had to leave TMC after Day 1, but I enjoyed meeting him and working with him.  Here’s to so much more!

I’ll post reflections on the keynotes and the afternoon sessions in a separate post.

Some morning session pics and feedback:

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