I teach in an independent school in Georgia and have the opportunity to have my Twitter Math Camp trip funded through a grant program of the Georgia Independent Schools Association.

Several folks wanted to see my essay after they helped me brainstorm it yesterday. Here ‘ya go! Help me improve this essay?

Writing prompt: Describe in detail the program of study to be undertaken. Include the personal benefit this study will provide you as a teacher and the value it will return to your students and school.

The Need for Professional Study
Mathematics education is increasingly project-based, exploratory, and based on research into how the brain learns. I began studying these while earning my Masters degree in teaching mathematics. I’ve continued studying with teachers who blog and tweet.

This summer, I have an opportunity to attend a summer conference that will further what I started in graduate school with amazing teachers. The conference is called Twitter Math Camp (http://www.twittermathcamp.com/) because many of us met through the eponymous social/professional media site. We are teachers with a passion for the very best in education.

About the Conference
Twitter Math Camp is a grass-roots conference created by mathematics teachers who first found each other on Twitter and through their blogs. The conference is hosted, staffed, and presented by the attendees. In this spirit, I am both presenting a session and attending as a learner.

Benefits to My School & Me
I see three major benefits to my attendance at Twitter Math Camp: 1) I’ll learn creative-but-rigorous practices, 2) I’ll collaborate on lessons I can bring to my classroom, and 3) I’ll experience productive struggling so I can better model it for my students.

First, I’ll have the chance to learn great new practices from some of the best teachers in the country. Last year, at the same conference, I learned about using GeoGebra with students to create something akin to a mathematics lab. The hands-on session provided “labs” I could use with kids without modification as well as gave me inspiration for creating my own. Also, I learned about the brain-based research behind the idea of building intrinsic motivation – and how to implement it in the classroom. It turns out that students need to understand the purpose of a problem, assignment, or project. When the kids buy-in to my lessons, they are always more motivation. My Math Camp colleagues helped me understand how to structure lessons so students buy in.

Second, Twitter Math Camp offers me the opportunity to collaborate on lessons. The conference organizers are providing time for deliberate planning this year. Last year, the attendees held impromptu planning sessions in hallways during breaks, we were so starved for practical lessons co-created with creative colleagues. I look forward to planning out a project or unit that unifies physics and geometry at Twitter Math Camp.

Finally, the conference will give me the chance to productively struggle on math problems. Math teachers call the process of working on one or several big problems productive struggle. Students shouldn’t be working on auto-pilot, they should be thinking, struggling, and making progress. We will take time to solve problems that are part of the Exeter math curriculum. Over the summer of 2012, I had the chance to work on similar problems and found the experience interesting. For one, how can I structure work time in my class to best take advantage of students’ attention spans? Everyone takes longer to get started, get engaged, then lose focus. How do I honor that in a class of 20 students?

In conclusion, Twitter Math Camp is an awesome opportunity for me to grow as a teacher. The conference is free to attend if I can just get myself there and lodged. If you’d like to read more about Twitter Math Camp 2012, please refer to http://oldmathdognewtricks.blogspot.com/2012/07/best-pd-ever.html.