This will be my final installment of trying to process out lot the experience I had last week in Jenks, OK
There are two aspects of the camp I want to process that I have not mentioned. The afternoon sessions and the after-hours social life of the camp are aspects I’d like to touch on this morning. As I mentioned before, I was fortunate enough to help facilitate a morning session and I worked alongside Tina Cardone and some fantastic math teachers who are trying to make the Precalculus experience a meaningful one for their students. After lunch each day there were many afternoon sessions. Each of us got to choose two sessions to attend. There are multiple choices for each session and the most obvious indication of what a great camp this was is the fact that these were HARD choices to make. I’ve been to conferences where I choose the least objectionable session to attend. Here, it was a matter of passing up interesting opportunities to find the BEST possible session to sit in. On the first day I sat in on Michael Pershan’s session on complex numbers and I had the great joy of sitting with Eli Luberoff and Jed Butler while we worked through a stunning activity on Desmos (you can find it here) that tied together transformations on the plane with the introduction of complex numbers. I was so thrilled by the activity, by working elbow to elbow with two brilliant people, by trying to anticipate where the activity was leading us. I’m still knocked out by it and I will work with my Precalculus teachers this year to see if they are comfortable leading their students through this activity. I then attended Megan Schmidt’s session on using NRich activities in your classroom. Again, great math, great conversations, and a solid takeaway for my classes this coming year. Megan said she was nervous – it sure did not show. On Friday I went to Jed Butler’s session on transformations using GeoGebra and Andy Pethan’s session on activity-based stats. Jed is someone who I have admired from afar as he has been part of the team that has really encouraged me to step up my GeoGebra game and his session did not disappoint. Deep math here and great conversations about pedagogy happened in the room. Justin Lanier asked a probing question about student struggle and how much we should try to relieve it through the way we set up approached to problems. I’m still bouncing that question around in my head. Andy is a very your, very enthusiastic teacher who has some serious programming chops. He led us through a great activity where, in teams, we drafted ultimate frisbee players and he ran our teams through a simulated season. Our team was the regular season champ but we lost in the one game finals. On Saturday, I went to the GeoGebra team session hosted by Audrey McLaren, John Golden and Jed Butler. I pushed myself to tackle a problem from Five Triangles and I am pretty pleased with where I am on the project. I’ll post about that with a link to my solution once I am satisfied. I finished my day there with a brainstorming session led by Lisa Bejarano where a group of us got together to talk about how to try and translate the ideas form this camp – and the experience of building this virtual network of support – back to our home schools. No solid solutions, but great conversations. The thread through all six of these experiences – and the ten morning sessions that were offered – is that this was a group of excited, excitable, and thoughtful educators. We were talking math and thinking hard. We were challenging each other and ourselves. It was pretty exhilarating. The fact that no one was getting reimbursed for their work in facilitating these sessions is pretty inspiring.
This was my first time going to this camp. I was aware of it in the summer of 2013 when it happened about two hours from my home. At that time I was not blogging yet, I was not yet on twitter and I only knew about it from reading the blogs of other involved individuals. I did not sign up to go because I felt I would have been a bit of a fraud attending at that time. Even this year, when I have been blogging for about a year, I’ve been on twitter since October (I think) and I have been actively engaged with a number of individuals I still had doubts about whether I belonged or was worth one of the 150 spaces. This is all on me – it’s how I was processing my thoughts. When Tina invited me to work with her I was incredibly flattered and said yes as soon as I spoke with my wife about the trip. So, as the trip got closer I was a bit intimidated. I’m not exactly shy, but I am more comfortable in social situations when I have a bit of an anchor. There was only one person of the 150 that I had met in person so I was a little nervous. I knew that there were certain people I really wanted to meet but overall I was unsure of how this was all going to work out. While I was there I was struck by two competing feelings. I loved the interactions I had with accidental meal partners and stumbling into conversations in the back area of the hotel where people gathered each night. I made some real connections – people I know I will be directly communicating with during the school year (I’m thinking of you Meg Craig and Lori Likens and Megan Schmidt and Jed Butler and Audrey McLaren and Jasmin Walker and John Golden and Brian Miller and Lea Ann Smith and and and …) The camaraderie at the Waterfront Grille on Saturday night and Sunday brunch was inspiring. The trip to the chili and hamburger joint was delightful. The gathering of the tribe in terminal B of the airport gave me the good cheer to make it through the rest of what turned out to be an annoying day later on. However, a part of me checked my tweet deck at night and was sad about other social opportunities I was missing. I think it ends up being a similar feeling to that I had about the working sessions. A mix of disappointment about what I was missing and joy at what I was experiencing. That seems to be a pretty strong endorsement of the whole experience, isn’t it? If I could be so happy about what happened AND so disappointed about what I missed it must mean that there was a whole lot of goodness (or at least potential goodness) going on.
Thank you SO much Tina for making me jump in. Thank you to the whole team that organized this event – most visibly Lisa Henry. Thanks to the Jenks school and greater community – most visibly Shelli who seemed to be everywhere at once.