Who loves being around math people? Well I do and I had the great opportunity to be with a whole bunch of them (3,000+) at the Regional NCTM Conference. I should mention that I was able to attend the opening presentation virtually. Huge thank you to the people who posted live video and tweets that night so that I could put my kids to bed AND learn from the session. The session really spoke to me so Thursday morning I attended a presentation on equity that was hosted by one of the speakers from the previous evening.
8am Hidden Figures by Dina Williams
I was unaware that when I chose this session based on the idea of equity in our classrooms that it would be led by one of the speakers from the previous evening but was pleasantly surprised when she began singing a song similar to one she did the previous evening. During the piece she sang on Wednesday evening the quote that stuck out to me was “no need to wonder why, just write it down”. I think that quote can come out of anyone’s mouth in utter desperation to “get through” things or “cover” topics (speaking of “cover” have you ever noticed that that word “cover” can mean to hide or conceal something, I realize that teachers don’t MEAN that when they say it but it is another meaning, but I digress). I really liked Dina’s songs and it made me think of how powerful a force music can be. I’ve been using “bumper music” in between classes lately and it has been a great addition. Parts of her talk that really spoke to me included:
- the use of pictures from our students’ world to teach the content of my class (she showed the image below, overlayed a grid and talked about having students estimate which was more and by how much)
I loved her use of math talks to get at some very important fraction skills. First, she talked about using money.
I remarked to someone near me that idea was all fine and good but what about thirds and Dina happened to be standing right there and she was excited about how that was the next portion of her talk. It was awesome. I do question on whether my students would know that 1/6 of an hour is 10 minutes but I believe it would be worth teaching if necessary
I really liked this session and I hope to incorporate these number strings soon. My biggest issue with these ideas is thoughtfully incorporating them. I find that I get these great ideas and if I don’t use them the next week I lose them, however, this doesn’t always work well with whatever I am teaching in my curriculum.
Sendhil got me to volunteer for this event. I didn’t know what to expect but it was a worthwhile experience. First, I was privy to the wi-fi access from before the event even started. Second, when I checked in for my assignment I was introduced to the layout of the hotel which was good because the only way you could get to one side of the hotel to the other was on the second floor. Also, I became VERY familiar with the rooms on that side of the building which made my own experience of finding rooms much easier. During the lulls in the crowd I was also able to make lunch plans for my crew which was amazing because about five minutes after we were seated we saw a line forming outside that was down the street a bit. I LOVED getting to help people where they wanted to be and I even got to see some people that I haven’t seen IN AGES in the process. It’s crazy when you see people you know from outside of the context of the conference you are attending….for instance, the picture below is of one of my former students who is now an administrator! I barely recognized him but was so glad to see him.
Coteaching with Tech by Allen and Eutsler
It was so amazing to see this team of teachers work together. You could tell that they truly shared their responsibilities in the classroom and had the utmost respect for each other. That kind of relationship is amazing to watch in action and gave me so much to think about my own co-teaching relationship. They even named their classroom as a combo of their two last names. Maybe we could be Janicone or Staniki.
I walked in late to this session but am soooo glad I made that move. I loved doing a little programming with TI’s new product, the TI Innovator Rover. We got a quick lesson on how to do the basic code commands in TI’s menu system and then were set loose to get the rover to move through a short course. I have a little programming experience (three courses in college, writing SHORT TI programs on my calculator, and dabbling during the hour of code every year in my classroom). I was able to capture a short video of my second to last trial run with the rover (I’m mad I didn’t get my last run as I got the rover to basically parallel park which was pretty sweet). I was saddened when I was running my last run and I overheard someone questioning the application of this activity in a math classroom. The TI person was caught a little off guard and I stepped in a little to talk about how I loved how this activity really spoke to the attendance to precision and measurement (I would make my students measure the course in order to do the programming) and discussion possibilities of area versus perimeter and I could keep going but you get the point. I will admit that this changed my mind about TI. I have been a little down on TI products with the advent of Desmos and Geogebra as those products are FREE and it is hard to argue with FREE. However, this product made me reconsider their products.
This session intrigued me as I know that my school would like to improve AP offerings, increase the number of students enrolled in AP, and get students to achieve scores of 3+ on the exam. They mentioned that their school has both regular and honors taking the same curriculum which I LOVE that idea because think everyone deserves to be challenged and get high quality instruction. I was intrigued by their Geometry in the summer program as I wanted to know if the topics dealt with in the summer were to the same rigor as a typical Geometry course. It definitely gave me food for thought.
Standards Based Grading with Darshan Jain
I just loved this presenter from the beginning. He was so welcoming and I felt like I wanted to learn right from the start. He was very interested in the story of the people who attended his 8am on a Friday session. He talked about the difference between assessing and evaluating a situation which is slightly nuance but an important idea. I loved that he took time to discuss why teachers get into teaching because I believe that SBG/SBL really speaks to who you are as a teacher. He talked about a process of asking some vital questions to structure the standards assessed:
- What do I value?
- How can you show this value?
- How well can you show this value?
- What helps to show this value well?
Check out my sketchnote on the session below. I had other sketchnotes from the conference but spilled water on them :(.
I loved some quotes from this session like the idea that 21st century illiteracy means someone who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. This really spoke to me as I know plenty of people, myself included, who struggle to unlearn something even if it is not a correct understanding. I loved that the idea of SBG/SBL does not mean that we forget everything that we as teachers have done to get to this point – hence the house quote of “don’t tear down the whole house, just rearrange the furniture”.
I volunteered to work at the #MTBoS table during this morning for an hour. I loved getting to meet some of my #MTBoS fangirl favorite people. I always struggle with how to explain the community to people ESPECIALLY when they don’t have Twitter. However, I usually say something like “well I was you once, where I thought Twitter was only for celebrity gossip and couldn’t possibly offer me anything”. Working the table made me highly aware of all the great things that the #MTBoS has exposed me to, the fact that I love this community and that my teaching practice has improved because of it.
Side note to working the booth is that I got to play with Mannifold which I LOVED.
I couldn’t put it down so I promptly ordered my own stackon Amazon for my playtable at school.
Math Games with Susan Chadaz
I felt like I learned some things through this session (even if they were not my personal intended goals of attending this session). First, she incorporated sign language into talking about the common core math practice standards. We learned one sign for each of the 8 standards. Additionally, she showed us how to tie a string without letting go of the ends which was comical to see a whole ballroom of people attempt to do. She showed us a couple of her games. I don’t know if I will use them in my classes but others seemed interested.
Tech to Increase Conceptual Understanding with Annie Fetter
I was so excited to meet Annie when I was volunteering at the #MTBoS table. I liked her applets for this session. The triangle applet was fabulous as I hope to use it the next time that I introduce triangles in my Geometry class. I loved how she modeled the Notice/Wonder routine for this activity. Notice/Wonder has really been a game changer in my classroom this year and I hope that I can continue to do it justice in the future.
I could probably go on an on with this post but I am going to just #hitsend or in my WordPress world hit Publish on this. But before I do, I will mention that I am thankful for Chicago.
I love being so close to a metropolitan area that attracts great events like this one. I love all of the food, culture, and unique opportunities that this city affords.
I am grateful for the AWESOME weather during the last two days and just so proud that this is my home.