Sunday, April 19, 2015

What I learned from working the MTBoS Booth

I am officially on school vacation and just back from NCTM, but here I am on Sunday morning at 7 am, typing from my bed because I have so many great things floating in my head I need to get down.

Before I started typing, I was curious to see if anyone new may have visited my blog since running into me at the booth.  Here's what I found: (Yeah and thank you!)
#1 as in Number 1! Not hashtag 1
#1: MTBos is amazing!  If you have come to read this, you probably know what that is but briefly it stands for MathTwitterBlogosphere.  You can read more here.  Follow them on Twitter @ExploreMTBoS.  It is math people who tweet and/or blog and love sharing their ideas on activities, education, classroom management, decorations, notebooks, etc.  It is an amazing spiderweb of connections!

#2: The booth was more powerful than I can imagine.  Thank you to Tina @crstn85 (author of Nix the Tricks) and blog: Drawing on Math and Justin Lanier @j_lanier (one of the authors of Math Munch - an online math magazine).  They envisioned this idea to spread the word about MTBoS and all we do and it worked!  When planning to come to NCTM, I poured over the program, reading all the great presentations I wanted to attend and then I went to the google doc to sign up to work at the booth.  I didn't want to miss any of the presentations but I did want to get to the booth too.  Well, after being at the booth the first day, I quickly learned the booth was the better spot to be.  It was a wealth of amazingness!  It was getting to meet all the tweeps I follow and admire, expanding my twitterverse with more awesome people I should follow and encouraging new people to join MTBoS so we can get even better!  What an opportunity!  Thank you Tina and Justin!

#3: The Tweeps: Besides meeting Tina, there are more twitter people I got to meet and speak with.  (I might miss a few, I apologize in advance.) 

Alex @alexoverwijk with his website slamdunkmath.  Alex was the first speaker I heard bright and early on Thursday morning.  He was speaking about activities and how he teaches using them, not just plugging an activities into a direct teaching lesson or opening with them, but actually the activity is the lesson for as long as it takes.  This is what I was doing in one of my small classes but have recently fallen into the worksheet/skills trap again, so it was a reminder and a fresh wealth of ideas.  Alex is a MTBoS person so I got to introduce myself to him when he came to the booth.  What an amazing guy.  I did not know he is the World Record Holder for the free hand drawing of a circle.  It has literally taken him around the world.  It is so cool.  I am a pretty good circle drawer myself and it often impresses my student, but now I can say I know Alex and I will show them his video.  Alex is such an interesting person and this comes across in that one minute video that went viral 8 years ago. 

In my conversation with Alex, another man joined us: RebelMaster @nicholasjkurian came up to speak and the conversation went on about circles.  I didn't know Nicholas, but now I am following him. 

Then, there is Denis Sheeran @MathEdisonHSNJ, we were assigned to work with each at the booth.  He is a math coach from NJ and a real sales person, he was talking up a storm and getting everyone who walked my interested in MTBoS.  The booth was projecting tweetdeck onto a screen.  I had heard of it as being helpful during chat sessions but never really knew what it was.  It had 4 columns on the screen following #MTBoS, #NCTM, notifications for @ExploreMTBoS and one more thing.  Now, I could see the power of this.  At first it seemed overwhelming but as you get more into twitter and chatting and following hashtags, I can see the benefit.  It was fun to be connected that way and see what was happening outside the booth.  Denis explained this all to me.  Thanks Denis. 

Of course, I can't forget Desmos, Mathalicious, and MathForum.  They are math organizations with MTBoS members who had booths at NCTM so we were all connected.  We were "selling" them.  I LOVE Desmos.  (It's a free, online calculator tool.) Can't even describe it, just go check them out at and .  Awesome.  Follow them @desmos and Eli @eluberoff.  The best thing is they listen to you on Twitter.  We wanted to be able to do regression using desmos and they did it.  They have amazing teacher lessons as well.  Now follow @mathalicious and see some really cool classroom computer based activities you can use tomorrow.  There are some free ones I have been using but am so happy we will get the full package next school year.  Check it out:  And, Check this out: - so cool.  With this follow: Max @maxmathforum and Annie @MFAnnie.  Two wonderful people.  I got to hear Max speak a few years ago at a conference and he led a session on beginning twitter (see more about this below).  He was an awesome teacher then and I started and it has brought so much to me.  I got the chance to thank him in person at the booth.  I heard Annie speak at Ignite and she asked what I thought of the Ignite session.  I admitted it was my first and she shared that there are a lot more online to check out.  So cool, I can't wait!

(Boxing time, gotta take a break, will be back to type more)
Here's me ready for boxing with my Mathalicious shirt on:
One of the women at boxing told me she liked my shirt :)

Back to my tweeps:
Next up is Jasmine @Jaz_Math  I followed her prior to meeting her at the booth on Thursday.  We met up again on Friday at the booth when we decided it was a lot of fun to hang out at the booth as a sort of home base.  She teaches in Burlington, VT (we learned there are a lot of Burlingtons around the country) and my mom's family lives right outside of Burlington VT.  The Red Sox opened up ticket sales to math teachers for the game on Friday night and named it Math Educator Night.  My colleagues and I had three tickets, but one couldn't go, so a ticket opened up.  I put it to Twitter - specifically the MTBoS and Avery @woutgeo might need a ticket, but he already found one, so Jasmine at the booth decided to join us.  What fun.  She had never been to an MLB game so it was fun to show her the ropes.  Kathy @kd5campbell is the colleage that joined us.  What an adventure we had when we thought all 500 math educators were going to be announced on the field!  We ran around to the right field seats only to be told we had to report to home base to then be brought down below into the underneath of Fenway Park with the person really not understanding why we think we should be going on the field.  He finally told us only the math teachers who were award winners were getting on the field.  But, he allow us to take a (really) bad picture in left field, as close as we would get.  It was a fun night! 
(Side note to Lois @lburke - sorry I led you to think we would be on the field.  Hope you weren't as disappointed as we were)

Up next is Hedge @approx_normal.  You see, I think it was two summers ago she started a math meme of a hedgehog sweater from Target.  Some of her math tweeps went and bought the shirt and then took pictures and tweeted them. This happened:  Hedge meme  I wore the Hedge sweater on Thursday and I got a few smiles from afar from people who knew what it was even though I didn't know them.  Sorry, it's a screenshot so you can't see the sweater.  I didn't get to chat with Hedge except for the moment when I was walking down a hall and ran into her and she gave me a hug!
Tina @crstn85 took a selfie with me at the booth:

On Thursday night, we met up with Robin @romathio and Casey @cmmteach along with Heather @Heather_kohn and went to Math Trivia night hosted by Mathalicious and Desmos - so cool.  We were all a trivia team.  We worked well together but alas, we did not win.

On Thursday morning I went to a presentation on complex numbers by Michael @mpershan and Max @maxmathforum.  It was mind blowing.  Just the idea that numbers and really about movement as a way to explain complex numbers.  I will share this for a later blog, but Michael came by the booth on Friday and was sharing a paper with a few of us about how rational and irrational numbers are different types of numbers and need to be treated differently from a man in the 1500s.  It was so cool (and might I say it was in this moment that I realized the geek/nerdom of the whole two days - but I loved it!)

On Friday morning, I got to hear Jen @jensilvermath speak about her proradians - why didn't someone make these things before.  Check them out.  What a great tool to get kids to finally understand and appreciate radians!

Thursday night was the ever secret Shadowcon.  No one really knew what it was about or spoke about it, kind of a really cool secret.  All I knew was I was going to be front row until I realized that was reserved for the live tweeters.  At this point, I realized I had not met Fawn @fawnpnguyen but turns out the seat in front of me was reserved for her!  At the end I introduced myself and she recognized me from my blog - how cool!

I am getting way too long here with my tweeps and there were so many: Bob @bobloch, Anna @Borschtwithanna, Andrew @mr_stadel (from Estimation180 that I use every day in class but I didn't get a chance to catch up with him).  I am sure I am missing a few but it was so great to finally meet you all in person.  I will not being attending TMC15 this year so I will be in #jealousyTMCamp.  Maybe next year!

#4 - I will make the last one because this has gotten way too long and the day is almost done.  I was surprised at how many people aren't on twitter at all or have signed up for it but don't use it or are reluctant to use it.  As I was greeting people as they walked by the booth with "do you tweet or blog" - those were my answers.  I was surprised at how many young people don't use twitter.  When I asked why people might be reluctant, the answer was usually - It's just another thing to add to my day.  But, man, it is too great to ignore.  Some people said they didn't want to use it for their students to follow them.  I explained that yes, whatever they post, their followers will see and it may be students but you don't have to use it that way.  I use it to connect and share with out math teachers.  It's timely and instantaneous! If I need something on quadratics for tomorrow, I throw it out to twitter and something always comes back at me.  If someone wants to collect data, it is a great way to crowd source.  It is also a great way to find out what all the new math books and programs and activities are.  These are some we highlighted at the booth:
  • Which One Doesn't Belong - book by Tweep Chris @trianglemancsd and website
  • Estimation 180
  • Nix the Tricks
  • Math Munch
  • Desmos and Daily Desmos
  • One Good Thing
  • Twitter Chats
  • and more
If you made it this far, you get an oatmeal, peanut butter chocolate chip cookie that I baked for you today!

More on the conference in the next blog, maybe tomorrow?


  1. Jennifer - this post made me smile (and gave me lots of things to check out) even though I was heartbroken not be able to attend - I could see all the faces and hear all the excitement of the conference. Thank you for sharing! And I finally found out why Hedge is Hedge!!

  2. Thank you for this post and for helping to make the booth possible! And sorry that I missed meeting you!