Saturday, July 18, 2015

Five Things I Learned at PCMI: Friday 7/17/15

1. When you set goals, set them in stone. The RoP staff asked us to set goals for the upcoming school year as a result of our experiences at PCMI. They asked us to consider possible solutions to challenges we might face along the way. And then we made it official; we made and submitted a video of us explaining our goals to be reviewed later in the year. Although it is a bit awkward to create a video of yourself, I doubt I will forget my goals any time soon.

2. All of the afternoon working groups presented today. Our group presented Geometry Transformed, a webinar style professional development to help teachers transition to Common Core geometry, which relies heavily on transformations. There were also a number of other professional development resources presented, and I will be exploring them all very soon. Most notable were the presentations about growth mindset, the social dynamics of math discussion, writing in math, and a problem set from Ben.

3. Bowen Kerns demonstrated the math games at There is a Mobile puzzle that develops intuition for solving equations, a “who am I” game for number sense, and Ken Ken style puzzle that imposes higher order thinking on the basic operations. Each game also gives students the ability to make their own puzzle.

4. I learned how to transform an algebraic function if the rule is in this form: (x, y) -> (f(x), g(y)). I also learned about how permutation groups and symmetric groups relate to reflections and rotations of regular polygons. There are so many connections between geometry and algebra; you would think it was the focus of the conference. Wait a second…

5. The MAA held a "debate" over the relative merits of the transcendental numbers, pi and e, at the Family Weekend for Williams College in 2005. The debate is largely humorous, but does hide some important mathematical ideas. Thomas Garrity, who served as e's champion, was one of the faculty members at PCMI.

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6. (Extra Credit) The cheese and ice cream from Heber Valley Milk & Heber Valley Artisan Cheese is delicious. Two vans full of teachers drove down from the Zermatt to eat some ice cream and see the cows. I split the south west cheese curds with matt, and most of us walked back to the resort.

7. (Extra Credit) The people I have met at PCMI are some of the most amazing, thoughtful, dedicated, and human educators that I have ever met. Darryl and Bowen helped me remember the highs and lows of being a student again. The entire Reflecting on Practice staff facilitated sharing, discussion, and reflection about pedagogy. In my afternoon working session, Gabe and Jim gave me more insight into transformational geometry than I ever had hoped to have. Every single one of the participants at PCMI 15 was willing and eager to share their ideas both in and out of sessions. The entire three weeks served as an open forum for refining old ideas, gaining new ideas, and plenty of time in the pool.

On the last day, most of the TLP got all of the leftovers together for one last meal, one last volleyball match, one last hot tub, and one last late night card game. I hope to see you all again soon.

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