Two Saturdays in a row now have been spent with some pretty amazing educators. Yesterday I was one of the attendees at EdCamp NEPA. One of the organizers, Mike Soskil (@msoskil) is someone I ran across on twitter some time ago. We had made plans to meet and lunch together at a tech conference but I had a minor car accident that morning so our lunch never happened. I finally met him yesterday and he was as terrific in person as he is online. He was full of energy and enthusiasm and it spread through the room. The vast majority of the folks there were first time EdCampers. I was a second timer so I felt like an old pro in this group. I’m guessing most of you reading this are familiar with the EdCamp model. You arrive to face a big blank session board and write up anything you want to talk about or listen to and people vote with their feet. Mike asked me to consider running a geogebra session and it did not take much to talk me into doing it. So I ran a session I called Visualizing Mathematics – Exploring with GeoGebra and Desmos. I showed off the work my students did in exploring the average daily temperatures in Gainesville, FL on desmos and we got into a great conversation about the power of this kind of visualization. I shared the story that all of my students missed some of the data in the same way and I got to make my standing joke about how long summer lasts in FL. One of my students asked if we would be more accurate with a city farther from the equator. Another student suggested that being closer to the equator would result in more symmetry. A conversation like this would never have happened without this visual support. I also showed off a geogebra file I created to model Taylor Series expansion as well as one of the files that the great jennifer Silverman (@jensilvermath) shared last week at our workshop. This one was called Quadratic Palooza. I had a small group in my room but they were engaged and asked me some great questions. We had a lively conversation about the power of this kind of visualization and how it enables students to ponder and ask questions that they likely would not have thought of before.
I also sat in on a couple of great sessions. The last one of the day was called Love It / Hate It. The moderator would post a statement about some school related policy/issue and we were to move to parts of the room based on whether we loved it/were on the fence / or hated it. We were to discuss with our group to construct an argument to have with our colleagues in the room.
Some of the sessions had participants taking notes together on google docs and here is the link to the schedule page
At a time of year when I am usually dragging (we have 10 class days left) I find my self with my batteries feeling recharged. Instead of feeling a bit sluggish, I am feeling perky and peppy, Love it.