“So, Matt; what are you up to this weekend?”

Well, Thursday, I’m taking a day off and going to an Exponents and Polynomials workshop with my team, then I go to Palm Springs on Friday and Saturday for a Math conference. I plan on spending three days of my weekend factoring and graphing.


Typically, most my “work life” is considered pretty boring. Not many would ask follow-up questions about the Math conference and even fewer about Polynomials.

More people are interested in me driving 80 minutes BACK from Palm Springs on Friday night for a CD release party at my house, then returning to the conference in the morning. (Click Here to get a taste of Scott Ryan’s new album.)

One aspect of my weekend at the conference, however, bears mentioning, because it got me jazzed.

I’ve been math-crushing on Dan Meyer for over a year now. While I don’t want to clumsily re-hash his talk, the video above and his blog paint a pretty clear picture. His desire to give math a makeover has blossomed into an obsession, leading him into a doctoral program at Stanford to reform mathematics.

Sounds like quite a job. Here’s why it’ll work.

That’s a short blog summary of a dynamic 85-minute presentation to a full house in the middle of the Palm Desert. Midway through, my colleague turns to me and says, “I think I have a crush on him, too!”

Aside from Meyer’s inspirational lesson, the conference was pretty regular. Four 90-minute math lectures a day, 30 minute passing periods, and a lunch. It was similar to high school, but if everybody was the Honors Student.

True story: in a session, one guy got visibly upset about how the slope is not an attribute of the line, but rather a property between two points.

Picture somebody getting close to tears about how Snookie is getting a bad rap, but everybody in the room was there to talk about how pop culture is the downfall of society. It was kinda like that.

In addition to taking home several pages of good math ideas and enrichment activities, I ran into my old Teacher Mentor, Kellie [Webb] Medley. I hadn’t seen her in 3 years and had miles of compliments to give. I babbled for about a quarter-mile as we walked from our conference room to the lobby, thanking her for investing in me and supporting me during the hardest job I ever had.

Here are a few great ideas (and quotes) she gave me during my first year teaching.

  • You know how to tell when a teenager is lying? When there’s words coming outta their mouth.
  • James, you were talking again, go sit over there. “I wasn’t talking.” Let’s not have an argument about it, let it go.
  • Maria, you’re staying after class to finish that assignment. “Pfff. Whatever, I’ll just walk out.” Ha!. You gonna run me over? Siddown!
  • (During lesson planning) What do you want students to do by the end of the lesson? How is this making that happen?
  • (After a lesson) What do you think when wrong with that lesson? What can you change for tomorrow?

There are dozens more good ideas that I stole from her, including one that made its way into my Master’s Thesis.

Between Dan Meyer, Kellie Medley, and Tiffany (colleague) I had a great time and left very fulfilled.
Now on to enlighten and stretch young minds.