NCSM/NCTM in Boston has come and gone, or rather, I went and have come back.
It was awesome.
It will take me quite bit of time to go through my notes and figure out where I go from here; however, this post helps me get some thoughts down. Its not everything that I heard or experienced, but its some big chunks. I should also mention that if it wasn’t for Annie Fetter encouraging me (and by « encouraging me » I mean « not giving me a choice… she’s good) to write a blog post once a week, I may not be getting my thoughts on digital paper. So, thank you Annie (I’m not even sure if we are on a first name basis but I’m going with it).
1. Andrew Stadel presented a framework for activities to use in class:
- Start with a simple visual or question;
- It must be a competition or a guessable answer;
- Students create a representation (gut feelings are encouraged);
- Students assess the work of others;
- Students define what is important.
Simple? Yup. Easy to do? Not quite, though he (and others) make it look effortless. I am trying to form the habits of mind of this process. Wish me luck.
2. Dan Meyer’s talk about the future of texbooks helped me link a number of ideas about deconstructing textbook problems. In particular, there was a slide showing the different « layers » of typical problems. Deconstructed and separated, each layer was clear and manageable; however, superimpose the layers and they get fuzzy and difficult to discern. It was a special moment- angels sang and I shed a tear. If I had an image of the slide, I swear you would see the the power of it. I am trying to get a copy of the slide(s).
3. Deborah Ball is a laser guided laser. Her ability to identify with precision, describe with clarity and place teaching practices in the greater context was pretty impressive. I saw her two times and was impressed each time. I have some reading to do.
4. We as teachers need to practice our teaching practices with other teachers. Robert Kaplinsky provided a great protocol to practice questionning skills and Deborah Ball shared learning goals when viewing classroom video in order to identify what teaching practices should be practiced (I feel like Allen Iverson… « Practice? Why are we talking about practice?…etc. »). It’s important people- we need to practice teaching in front of other teachers more often to get better at our game that is teaching.
5. Mathalicious is the real deal. Karim Ani, founder of Mathalicious, changed my mind as to what « real world » and « application » math lessons truly consist of. Issues of justice and equity with regard to municipal fees, fines and parking tickets were explored by way of math concepts and modelling in You’re So Fined- How Long Does it Take to Pay off Municipal Fines? In this example, the math is not the goal, but rather to apply math to answer a real world and important question- Is that fair? Ya got me Karim, ya got me.
6. « …taking advantage of the honour of sitting in the back of a classroom« – Steve Leinwan reminding us that we should not take for granted being in a classroom as a coach or observer. It is and should be an honour.
7. « It is only when we closed our texbooks that we started to see the math all around us« – Bruce McLaurin talking about his and Alex Overwijk’s start to their journey of Spiralled Activity Based Math.
8. Dylan Wiliam made me realize that I need to make assessement (formative, for learning, as learning, of learning) the main focus in my personal professional development. I have more reading to do.
9. Max Ray’s session on slowing down problem solving was a thing of beauty. He shared a counter example and an example of how to go about allowing students productively struggle to link conceptual knowledge to procedural knowledge. Don’t do the work for the students!
HIGHLIGHTS AND DISCOVERIES
- Sharing: I got to share this incedible week with Karine Rozon, Jules Bonin-Ducharme and Julie Mondoux. I’m glad they were there with me.
- ShadowCon: Very cool. Tracey Zagar’s talk got to me. « 63% of pre-service teachers’ images revealed negative associations with math ». We need to work on that. Check out the Storified version ShadowCon here or check out the website.
- Mathalicious/Desmos Trivia Night: Our team name was I Love Beaver. We were mostly made up of Canadians from Ottawa. We should have won just on the basis of our team name. We didn’t. But it was still a great and fun night.
- I heard for the first time in person: Marilyn Burns, Cathy Seeley, Cathy Fosnot and Deborah Ball.
- Discovered: Kristin Gray, Elham Kazemi, Kassia Omohundro Wedekind.
- Got to hang with: Andrew Stadel, Robert Kaplinsky, Alex Overwijk, Bruce McLaurin, Christopher Danielson.
- Met: Justin Lanier, David Wees, Graham Fletcher.
- Star-struck moment: When Fawn Nguyen sat next to me. She mentioned « I caught the red-eye flight from California. I’m tired, hungy and I think I smell » and I said « Can I get a picture with you? ». Sorry about that one…
Can you identify all of the people in the pictures below?
1000 bonus points if you can name the woman on the screen in the background in the second picture.