Keynote Session: Phil Daro
Today was a fabulous day at the Suburban Cook County Math Insitute. The keynote was Phil Daro! I was totally impressed that he made his way to the suburbs of Chicago to present :). He even discussed the what should now be famous from Nix the Tricks, “the butterfly method“.
A couple of the ideas from his keynote that really stuck with me include:
1.) We need to reconsider how we deal with students in our class. Instead of “diagnosing and addressing their gaps” we need to be more focused on the “future mathematical health of our students”. When you think about the future and how to improve it as opposed to constantly focusing on autopsying the past, it makes the classroom more alive and doable.
2.) Don’t think of students having gaps at all. Rather, think of students as having “unfinished learning”. Who says that they have to finish all of their learning of the concept of slope in say their 9th year of education. This idea is also similar to one often discussed by one of my mentors, Bob Kaufmann. Kaufmann was a farm boy and often his mathematical metaphors came from the farm (which I must add would normally make these references difficult to understand for the VERY suburban girl I am but he was a master teacher so I always did – sorry for the digression). He compares education to flea dip. Your dog has fleas. The only way to get rid of the fleas is through flea dip. You dip the dog once, you’ll probably get about 80% of the fleas. Let the dog dry out and dip them again and again until you finally get rid of all of the fleas. You probably will never get all of them in the first dip. Just like when working with students, students won’t reach full mastery at the first go around.
3.) In the past I have been granted the opportunity to present professional development for my district. Mr. Daro discussed the paper Tight But Loose and I would like to take some time to read it and see what I can glean from it for future use.
Core Session 1: Promoting Problem Solving Before Procedures
Melanie Wertz presented this session and I really enjoyed the session. The session focused on this idea of student learning as an iceberg. Here is the idea presented by Freudenthal Institute US & Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education along with a visual of the idea:
We took some tasks and determined the “floating capacity” of the task as well as the top of the iceberg. Applying these ideas to concepts that I typically teach in class really made me think about addressing more of the “floating capacity” prior to diving right in to teaching the “tip of the iceberg”. Too often it is very easy to skip to the top because presenting that topic is much easier within a 52 minute period as opposed to addressing some of the needs below. This gave me some great perspective as I prepare to teach Geometry this fall.
Choice Session 1: DESMOS and Web Based Technology for the Math Classroom
I co-presented this with Annie Forest. Also, a shout out to Sendhil Revuluri for assisting us with the planning. I had a great time. I’m always amazed at presentations when I can learn as much as I can teach (crazy that after 14 years of teaching that I am still amazed at this). Here is the link to the presentation. We began with an intro to Desmos and had teachers work through a list of about 16 things that Desmos can do. It was fun to see them problem solve “how to make a fraction” or “how to make an inequality greater than or equal to” and hear their audible cheers when they figured out the answers to their own problems. Probably more insightful was when we introduced teachers to Function Carnival and Central Park. It was great to hear teachers ask some of the same questions my students do. I was impressed that they felt comfortable enough with the atmosphere to not only make mistakes but productively struggle towards understanding as opposed to just asking for the answer on how to do it. I think I might have rushed the first activity a little (something to keep in mind for tomorrow when we present again). However, the engagement for the end of a long day of PD was unparalleled. I felt proud of this session and look forward to tomorrow.
Something that I would like to improve for the future is the discussion of the usefulness of Twitter. I have gained SO MUCH from Twitter and would love to help other people join the conversation. I never do it justice when I mention it to others. I have to figure out a better way of getting other teachers involved. It’s a process and I’ll keep working on it.