Saturday, 26 July 2014

TMC 2014 Entry 2 - Analysis

Recap of my TMC game: As I record what happened at Twitter Math Camp, I will be inserting one false statement into every section (as separated by the headers). Anecdotal feedback is that Day 1 was tricky, so I’ll try to make some of today’s lies easier. The recap for Day 1 (including some falsehoods) is here. My mathematical fiction serial is here. Friday, July 25th is below:


-I gave Justin Aion a crab hat from the Jenks Aquarium. To keep tabs on him. Hijinks ensued.
-Happy birthday was sung to @merryfwilliams, reminding me that Day 1 last year coincided with her birthday too.
-Important Links announced: 1) Survey, ; 2) Pictures, ; 3)

My Favourite #5: Edmund Harriss (@gelada)
-Close your eyes. Zero. 1 dot. 2. 3... here options expand to allow a line or triangle. 4. 5. 6... up to 17. “Counting is really hard.” (Can you visualize more than 6 dots in a line? Most people go to rectangles.) 
-Feel JUSTIFIED when you’re having fun with math. It’s part of your work in the classroom.
-What is mathematics? A question posed by @davidwees, where the intersection is nothing as the union is everything. Recommend having a personal definition. Analyzing the definition becomes mathematical without using numbers.
-“Those kids”... can mean the ones who get it almost before you do. You CAN inspire even if you only feel comfortable with counting. You can turn someone who can do maths into someone who loves it.
-Trying things (and failing, and trying everything, and not settling) is a process one should enjoy, even if it counts as work (is not relaxing).
"First, this is just a really nice image..."
Can you spot 8 cubes?
-1. Analogies: same/different. Consider patterns. Rectangles. Consider it’s easier to think about zero dimensions than 4, but not as natural.
-2. Breaking Rules: any mathematical rule can be broken somewhere. 2+1=1 in that 2 molecules (hydrogen) + 1 (oxygen) = 2 molecules (water). #unitchat
-“You cannot divide by zero.” Broken. Edmund did divide by zero; that’s how he created the TMC14 logo. Info will be on his website after the conference.
-Edmund then divided by zero again and vanished from the room.

My Favourite #6: Christine Sullivan
-About loving online planning. She went paperless last year. is a great organization tool. Can attach standards to worksheets, program keeps track of tags.
-Can do end of year comparisons to find gaps. Turns “what went wrong?” into “how do we move forwards?”

More Precalculus:
-Activity: Given a creature card. Identify it using a flowchart. Flowcharting can be used for conics: Anywhere else?
-I mentioned I have used a flowchart for Ambiguous Case of Sine Law, leads to 0, 1 or 2 solutions.
-Went back into our groups. Wiki Link: Precalculus
-Trig planning group of Hannah S, Nik D, Connie H, Julia H and me. Shared some unit circle stuff & apparently “CAST” in U.S. is “All Students Take Calculus”?
-Lesson plan: Working with inverse trig to solve for “x” in domains. Sheet to be created for multiple representations, also degrees/radians. Another sheet of equations to solve.
-Nik noted that LucidPress is good web-based software.


-Had lunch at Mazzio’s pizza/salad place to vary things up (had a burger at Ron’s previous day). Today dined with Tina Palmer (also Stats on Thurs), Hannah S (from Precalc), and Lea Ann (@SmithTeach).
-Got “knifed” when a server (possibly manager?) turned too quickly. Sustained no damage.

-#7: Bob Lochel (@BobLoch) talked “My Favourite Ice Breaker”
It's "math-tans" TV
-Give every kid an index card, have them list their 5 favourite (current) TV shows. Then get them to place their card on the board so that their card is as close as possible to those with shared interests. (Can do movies but less likely to get matches.)
-Does the problem have a solution?
-The 9/11 memorial in NY has names, not alphabetical, not in columns... same algorithm. They consulted relatives, tried to maximize Meaningful Adjacencies.
-There is a video related to how Jer Thorp (data artist) created the algorithm (radial maps) that Bob shows after the activity. See his blog for links.

-#8: Glenn Waddell (@gwaddellnvhs) talked Best, Cheap Way to Record Information.
-(First, a plug to enter your blog post for the TMC14 archive, if you blog about TMC.)
-To record classroom info, no need for webcams. An old cell phone works great, can record whole classroom in 720 HiDef. Like any people wearing crab hats.
-To keep phone from falling over, make a stand by cutting into base of a paper cup. Students won’t question it being on desk, and everyone has an old phone around.
-I pointed out I have an old phone, oh wait, no, I’m using it. (Sorry for the sabotage Glenn!)

-#9: Justin Lanier (@j_lanier) talked John Holt
-Justin read an excerpt from John Holt’s “blog”, Feb 13, 1958. It’s a book.
-Twitter connects through space, but also time. This is simply a longer connection through time.
-Books by Holt: “How Children Fail” & “How Children Learn”
-3 Lessons: 1) Look Around (when students don’t know you are); 2) Teach Crazy (because like ‘once’ sounding like ‘wonce’, things are crazy); 3) Trust Children (people want to learn).
-Justin works at an organization that “helps teenagers drop out of school”, working with home schoolers. They do come to learn.

-#10: Michael Pershan (@mpershan) talks about online things
With a wave of my hand...
-First, a survey to answer. If you attended TMC and didn’t do it, it’s at, gathers some demographics.
-Second, Global Math Dept (@GlobalMathDept) which has Tuesday webinars which are archived, and a Newsletter compiling blog posts.
-He then did a ten minute improvised tap dance routine while mumbling phonetics to give people time to fill out the survey, throwing off Lisa Henry's schedule.

-#11: Karim Kai Ani (@karimkai) talked Mathalicious
-They write lessons based around real world topics (and are one of the morning groups too).
-It is a paid site as they have expenses, but for individual teachers, pay what you can. ($185/yr annual account)
-Recommended to try a couple lessons and see if Administration will pay for use.


-Dan Meyer: Meet Your MtBoS
-Dan told us he’d attempted to buy a TMC ticket through TicketMaster, and reminded us he invented the sweater vest.
-This group is more evangelical than other groups (preaching the gospel), yet doesn’t need money like cults do. #WhyMTBoS has hits, #WhyNCTM does not.
-Shoutout to Jackie Ballarini (@JackieB) a community member not presently active.
-Metaphor made with TV show “Lost”: Castaways absorbed with themselves, later discovering a larger group. TMC --> MTBoS.
-What does the larger group know about teaching that I/we don’t? What roles exist, or can be filled within the MTBoS?
-Combination of being Selfless (how can I contribute to this) & Selfish (I want to profit off of that)
-Dan admits to being least confident in this talk being of use to anyone but him.

-FollowerWonk was used to gather data. Search: Math(s) teacher.
-Compared overall data to those in the TMC14 list. 150 TMC vs. 11,608 MTBoS.
-Shoutout to Michael Pershan as Max Fisher (data philanthropist).
-Men and Women interact much the same. 57% women, 43% men. (@wahedahbug nailed it)
-The frequency of tweets per day was measured over the entire life of an account. Also followers/following, and tendency of TMC14 crowd was to over guess a LOT.
-Plot of Number Following vs Number Followers has a big vertical outlier: Liz Hemmings (@lizhem65), the mother of Luke Hemmings, lead vocalist of “5 Seconds of Summer”. (Many following, follows few)
Communication vs. Broadcasting
-34 is median # Followers; 75 is median # Tweets. NEW GRID with those axis. What’s happening where “large # Tweets, fewer followers” & “large # followers, fewer tweets”? (Former shows fewer replies, latter fewer RTs.)
-Dan showed correlations, gave us a chance to talk. Some things that came up: What percent of us actually have “math teacher” in description (vs “educator” or not phrased)? About 80/150, so could be missing half MTBoS people? Also, analogy made between TMC being a solar system within the galaxy... maybe there’s another system out there?

-Blogging analysis used ExploreMTBoS as a baseline. Dan determined who had started their blog that first month, and hadn’t blogged at all since February 2014.
-Dan posted to their blog asking why they had stopped, but they were no longer checking their blogs.
-Dan set up a Twitter account (@researchMeyer) and tried tweeting directly at former bloggers to take a survey, and the account was suspended.
-Ultimately he did get 4 responses of 10. Dan remarked how writing for others is different than writing for yourself - the need to fill in more gaps. (Noted later that 3/4 were getting good PD elsewhere.)
-One person likened blogging to going to the gym (yet this shouldn’t be a burden). Jasmine Walker (at TMC) had blogged that morning about having A Blogging Tutor.
-Google searching on math blogs. Noted that we’re a larger wedge of the blogging community than the twitter community.
-Dan gave a brief detour into how he uses Feedly (Other is non-edu, Adjunct is interesting, Tenured is promotion from Adjunct; perhaps one promotion per week).
-IN TMC: Median # subscribers is 2, Median # Posts per day is 0.2 (~1/month). Again GRID: What’s happening with “high velocity, low subscribers” (24%) & “low velocity, high subscribers” (25%)? Both say blog for “Reflection & Sharing”. Hypothesis more ‘reflection’ in first group and vice versa.
-Again, correlations and a chance to talk. Some items: Is experience/time teaching or blogging a factor? In what grid are the 180 blogs (blog every day)? Is low comments due to them being supplied through twitter? Can Dan Meyer absolve 1st/2nd year teachers for not having time to blog more? How DO twitter and blogging intersect?

-Dan said the conference was aptly named: It’s Twitter Math Camp not Blogger Math Camp.
-A check into the #mathchat tag showed it to be in Quad I (high velocity blogging and subscribers).
-NEW QUESTIONS: The larger sphere of NON-ENGLISH blogging he was missing. Also the question of RACE. Also OTHER SUBJECTS outside of math (the “TBoS”). And readers out there who do not subscribe formally.
-Brief discussion about French, and the fact that “Mathematiques” is plural, meaning it is not masculine or feminine. Also, plural aligns more with the British.
-FINAL ADVICE: Regarding ‘Selfless & Selfish’ above: Be Selfish.


-I went to “Hinge Questions” with Nik Doran (@nik_d_maths) partly because I remembered seeing something about it before (likely on his blog)
Everything hinges on this outcome.
-Nik started by polling everyone to find out where their knowledge was at, whether they just came to listen to him talk for an hour.
-Finding this was new or just starting up for most, he began with how Hinge Questions are a subgroup of Diagnostic Questions.
-Diagnostic questions are defined to be like agnostic questions, in that no educator actually believes that they exist.
-Shoutout to the book “Embedded Formative Assessment” by Dylan William.
-Hinge questions will not only diagnose SPECIFIC misconceptions, but help make decisions on how to proceed. Every answer (in multiple choice) is designed that way.
-Example: Question is “If e+f=8, then e+f+g=?” To answer “9” shows counting, “12” shows considering all variables are ‘4’, “8+g” is correct, etc.
-Strive for “Semi-Density” when creating: No answer can be chosen via multiple rules. (In other words, “12” MUST imply 4+4+4, not 8*1.5 as any valid reason/method.) Try to refine the question until this is the case.
-Once a question fits a topic, you can use it again and again.
-IMPLEMENTATION: Reduce time to answer (2 min), Ease of interpretation (15 sec), Semi-Density.
-BASED ON RESPONSE: Steer class OR group people with same misconception (perhaps include one who got it right) OR take a group aside while class moves on OR if used in an evaluation context, use to guide remediation.
-Some sample hinge questions were looked at. An attempt was made to figure out why those wrong answers were chosen.
-Don’t throw in a “distractor” answer without thinking of how they get it.
-6 answers with 2 correct possibilities is better than 4 answers with 1 correct. (Tell students to “choose all correct answers”.)
-Hopefully eliminates chance of student learning a new misconception.
-Can create with Bottom-Up design (start with answer, work back). Preempt the misconception.
-We split into groups (by course) and attempted to create a couple Hinge questions. I worked with some stats folks to make a question on Binomial Distribution formula.
-Issue of Guessing was brought up: What if they didn’t follow a process? Nothing’s perfect, though (if wrong) this is likely a student to talk with anyway.
-Possible source: (but they don’t show the rationale for their wrong answers, and limited to 4 options)
-Network with Nik to come up with more questions! Presentation above, Blog Posts Here.

-Then went to Lesson Study talk with Judy Keeney (@JudithKeeney)
-A collaborative structure is necessary as teachers work on their craft.
-(ASIDE: This is like what I participated in and blogged about here... creating lessons in a group.)
-Specific Cycle: 1) Set Goals; 2) Plan Lesson; 3) Teach & Observe; 4) Share Results & Refine
-Was done for 3 two-day sessions over the course of a year, as educators traveled to come together. (ASIDE: @AlexOverwijk has done something similar, but within his school.)
-There were 12-15 people (varied), can create two lesson groups (middle school & high school). Invite admin too.
-Question (by Glen W) of why MATH? Other disciplines? Alex O. mentioned for him there was a focus on at-risk students, so he helped with an English lesson. This can be cross-discipline.
You want to take the time for this.
-STEP #1: Find common ground, identify shared goals - for students and for self. Come to a working agreement (e.g. being non-judgemental, etc). This can be half a day itself. A half page of information is idealistic, thus problematic.
-STEP #2: Move from broad math context to a specific focus, anchor. Try to anticipate student responses. “There is no such thing as a perfect lesson”! Tease out good pieces, etc.
-STEP #3: Be clear to others this is not a “regular day” (for subs or EAs who may otherwise guide students and throw off the dynamic). Decide who will deliver the lesson that day, it will likely NOT be the teacher of that class. (Avoids any teacher checking out personally during creation, as they may be delivering it. Also prevents class teacher from unconscious influence, the lesson should work for anyone, and lets them observe own class.) Make sure to observe protocols to avoid student telling parents “I raised my hand with 20 teachers in the room and no one helped me”. Include individual accountability as well as group work.
-STEP #4: “The heart of the lesson study is the discussion of data collected.” Keep with protocol, the one who taught speaks first, start with “what did you see/hear”. Also “I liked it when...  Extend to “Why” and impressions later.
-Judy had a number of quotes, and she showed some video clips while describing the cycle.
-Outcomes and Benefits considered, including different perspectives and new insights.
-The biggest drawback people voice is taking time outside of the class.
-Sadie (@wahedahbug) commented on how she’d resisted at first, but now advocates for lesson studies. She said can you share with the kids what you learn, showing you’re learning along with them.


-Went back to the Jenks hotel, figuring on randomly hooking in with a dinner group, possibly other Ottawa folk.
-About 6:20, when Kathryn Freed (@kathrynfreed) and Kathryn Belmonte (@iisanumber) said they were driving out to find a place, and John Chapin (@Math_CS_Teach) joined them, I decided to tag along as well.
-We ended up eating at a cafe (Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe), chatting about introversion and extraversion. Learned Kathryn B taught a year in France, which to me is so cool.
-I acted as a GPS again today when there was some confusion over the turns. This should maybe be my backup job.
-Back to hotel by 8pm, Kathryn F tweeted out that I’d need a ride to Glenpool. Started this blog post then. Heather Rosson (@matheologian) and Brooke Seals (@BrookeSeals) found me, offered me a lift for later on.
-A group of them started playing Quelf, a board game with rules on cards. Which may involve shoving ice down your pants. Word.
(Square) Dance Dance Revolution
-Malke (@mathinyourfeet) and her morning dance crew also created a blue tape lounge to practice their moves.
-Chatted with some folk in the lobby when they got back from BBQ place, also saw @gelada working with an interesting puzzle.
-Someone walked through trying to sell protractors, I don’t think they were very successful.
-About 11:30 my blog reached the Keynote above, and my brain shut down. Lay down on the couch. Woken up at 12:15 for trip back to Glenpool.
-Tweeted out #AMVFriday with the “Weird Al” video I’d found earlier, in honour of him, and me being a Canadian in America.
-Faceplanted back into bed at 1am.

And that’s Day 2, blow by blow! With FIVE LIES! Hopefully not more... seriously, if you spot an inaccuracy, tell me in the comments. I’d hate to think I have more fiction in this account than I intended. Similarly, if you want to add anything, or just remark about an item, feel free to comment also!

1 comment:


    1) “Edmund then divided by zero again and vanished from the room.” That would have been an impressive trick. Maybe next year?

    2) “He then did a ten minute improvised tap dance routine while mumbling phonetics to give people time to fill out the survey, throwing off Lisa Henry’s schedule.” Michael did pronounce his website, and admit at one point to stalling for time, but we were always on schedule. I’m not even sure if he can tap dance.

    3) “Brief discussion about French, and the fact that ‘Mathematiques’ is plural, meaning it is not masculine or feminine.” No. Sounds more like something from my web serial. (

    4) “Diagnostic questions are defined to be like agnostic questions, in that no educator actually believes that they exist.” Guys, I’m trying to make some of these easy for you.

    5) “Someone walked through trying to sell protractors, I don’t think they were very successful.” I don’t know if that statement is more believable than a game where you put ice down your pants, but the protractors thing was false.

    How are we doing?