Friday, April 28, 2017

My Favorite NCTM Annual Session

Math in Your Feet: Moving Bodies are Learning Bodies
Malke Rosenfeld (@mathinyourfeet)

At 8 am on Saturday morning, I chose a session that I thought would include some movement and where I could connect with a #MTBoS teacher that I hadn't met before. After lots of problem solving and emphasis on student talk, I was ready for something different. This session reminded me how important movement is for students and gave me something new to share with my teachers.

Malke is a Teacher Artist and works with students as a visiting artist. She asked us to consider the question: "How are dance and math connected?"
We shared our thoughts using the hashtag: #movingmath. Check it out on twitter - there's more there!

Some insights:
Math is more than memorization
The body is a powerful thinking tool
Using the whole body opens up new avenues for learning
Math and dance are anxiety producing for many adults
Both math and dance are human created activities

A question we considered:
What’s your definition of “dancing the same” as your partner?

Facilitator questions that helped us:
“Does anybody have a dissenting opinion?”
“What are the words that can help us describe this?” Points to word wall

Walking out from this session, I was energized and optimistic about helping teachers see math as more than just numbers and fact fluency. I also started wondering how dance could fit in Robert Kaplinsky's Depth Of Knowledge grid (one of his blog posts:

My initial thoughts:
DOK1: Repeat steps to a dance you are taught
DOK2: Analyze 2 dances - are they "dancing the same"
DOK3: Create a dance with constraints (8 counts, turn the greatest number of degrees)
DOK4: Convince others to include dance in math class, including example dances and how they include math

How do you think dance can climb the DOK ladder?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Favorite NCTM Annual Moment

NCTM Annual Conference
San Antonio, Texas
April 5-8, 2017

I enjoyed traveling with my conference buddy, Stephanie Blair (@welblair). Dinners on the River Walk, the boat tour, Mathalicious Happy Hour, Desmos Trivia, the MTBoS Booth, Tracy Zager signing my copy of her new book, Elham signing Chrissy's copy of her book, dancing at 8 am on Saturday morning, MTBoS game night - all great moments, but none of these were my favorite.

My favorite NCTM moment happened in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt between sessions. This moment furthered my belief that the most meaningful moments at conferences are between sessions and between attendees.

I often find myself in a place after a day or so of conference sessions where I wonder, "what are we doing?" We've had NCTM standards, including process standards since 1989. Why are so many teachers still teaching they way they were taught and focusing on procedures? I know it's easier to try to fill the "empty vessels" of your students' minds, but are they really learning? We've had access to so many opportunities to shift our mathematical (and teaching) mindsets: books, blogs, conferences, twitter chats, the #MTBoS. Why does it seem like we're banging our heads against a wall with so many teachers? We still have a society that allows people to say "I'm not a math person." As Mike Shaughnessy once said, "don't say that in public!" How can we really influence instructional change that impacts our society's view of mathematics?

So, here I was, kind of down, and I ran into Chris Shore (@mathprojects). I knew he would understand the issue. He did. Here is one thing he said that gave me hope:

"We can't teach them everything we know, but we can teach them to think the way we think."

I want all teachers to care about student thinking. I want them to wonder what students think and why. I want teachers to provide opportunities for students to solve math problems using their intuition and reasoning.

He also shared results of a Gallup Poll on Workplace Engagement. He said about 1/3 of US workers across all professions are engaged in their work and actively trying to improve. He reported that there are fewer disengaged teachers than in other professions, but there's still a big group that aren't engaged in their work.

I waited to write this post until I found the report:
And the State of America's Schools Report:

It's an interesting report. The 1/3 engaged seems steady, but about 50% look unengaged, and 15-20% disengaged. The number disengaged went down to 14% for "matrixed" positions where employees are on multiple teams that report to the same supervisor.

From the State of America's Schools Report (2014):

So, I have more questions. Instructional coaching often assumes that teachers want to improve. This research implies that only one third of them do. The rest don't necessarily want what we're selling. How do we help them see the need for instructional change? Teaching is so complex. There's always room to grow - for teachers, coaches, administrators - everyone!

How do you work with the unengaged teachers in your schools? I usually assume everyone wants to improve and just carry on... What do you do?

Next post will be on my favorite NCTM session - a much lighter (on your feet) experience!