Posted in Professional Development, Uncategorized

#NCTMInst Reflections, day 2

Today I attended the second day of the High School Institute presented by NCTM.

During Diane Briar’s keynote she referred to the PISA data.  I’m very familiar with the data because of the PD with SCMI.  I LOVE that she had us do the math (I love it when we get to do math together during PD) and then we looked at the student results.

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The first breakout session I attended was about statistics.  The information was helpful for my work this year to get me back in the mindset.  I forgot how foreign some of the terminology can be to those who haven’t taught/learned statistics for a while.  I felt comfortable but I could tell that others were not.  Therefore, when we ask typical elementary, middle school or even high school teachers to teach statistics I guess I have a firmer understanding of why it is such a challenge.  The session really made me consider how I present to my students and the need to keep things hands on and relevant in order to keep their interest and therefore learning on a high level.

Lunch was a great opportunity to share :).  First, we talked at our table about our sessions and it was great to have the opportunity to learn about the sessions I couldn’t attend.  It made me appreciate even more how great an experience EdCamp Chicago was and how I want to be able to share that experience with others.  I love how I never felt locked into a session and the connections I was able to make in such a small period of time.  It’s so hard to explain what EdCamp is and the powerful learning that can occur because when you explain EdCamp it sounds crazy.  This conference would benefit from some of the “norms” that are present at EdCamps.  Anyway, I got to show off my powerlifting skills 🙂 through my YouTube video which is always fun.  Probably my favorite experience of the “networking lunch” was the opportunity to meet one of my Twitter connections in person.  Little did she know, but, @MoonMath, you were the first person I’ve ever met in person through my Twitter connections 🙂  kinda cool.  Anyway, she hooked me up with some great origami stuff that she learned in her session – I wouldn’t have even known that origami was happening somewhere else in the building if it weren’t for Twitter – let alone been able to take the lesson with me.  Seriously, this Twitter thing is mind-blowing to me at times.  Especially when I was one of those people who COMPLETELY wrote off Twitter as useless.

The third session was probably my favorite.  We were given a task.  The task was to create a gravity car that would go down a ramp and the goal was to tie the exemplar car that would consistently go down the track in 2.4 seconds.    The exemplar car was made out of four wheels on sticks through a milk carton – named Vanilla Thunder.  Then we mapped out what we knew, wanted to know, and next steps and then we were off.  We spent a great deal of time in the building process (which the car was made of recycled materials).  We were given very little direction and it was really interesting to see how others were able to interpret the task.  Some people just used a bottle and rolled it down the ramp.  Given the goal was to see where you would have to release the car in order to achieve the same time as the exemplar, I thought that was a twist on our usual goals of maximization – typically the one that would go the FASTEST or SLOWEST.  The open-ended nature of the activity really made my mind soar when it came to the applications of the activity to our curriculum.  I love how the selection of tools and process was just created on the spot.  I love how this activity is accessible to all students.  I want to think of more constructs like this to really get my students engaged in the math.


Our last session was a discussion group.  We were tasked with finding at least 10 ways in which a pattern was growing.  We selected a challenge for our group.  We discovered that the growth could be described in several ways.  The idea of multiple representations was not lost on me.  I think my experiences with SCMI has primed me for multiple representations and when one isn’t working out the way you like, that maybe you should explore a different way to explore the data/pattern.  I decided to do a quadratic regression on the data and the numbers came out BEAUTIFULLY!  So I paused for a couple of minutes because I knew my group would roll their eyes at me when I shared my solution.  I kept trying to work from the equation that I got to how the equation was made up.  Eventually I did share…and I got some eye rolls…BUUUT then something cool happened.  My group was completely FIXATED on how to explain WHY my equation worked.  It was worth the eye rolls to be able to work with them on the productive struggle toward the answer that eventually came about an hour later.  The takeaways from this experience are so many and I could probably write about five blog posts on it.  However, the biggest take away is that I need to share my thoughts, even if they cause an eye roll.  They might be the catalyst to finding the answer.

Finally, a question regarding what I will call the “Cheater Mindset”…is doing the quadratic regression, or any regression for that matter, such a bad thing that it deserves the eye roll?  I mean, seriously, after 20 keystrokes I had something that fit our data VERY well and something to work with.  Why does it elicit the eye roll?


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