Monday, November 6, 2017

Reflections on NCCTM17

The North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics has their annual Leadership and Math Conferences this past week.It was a whirlwind three days with fabulous speakers including Jennifer Bay-Williams, Peg Smith, Juli Dixon, William McCallum, Joliegh Honey, Jennifer Wilson, ....  The list goes on. Anyway, I always enjoy the conference and wanted to share a few highlights.

First, I had the privilege to present with one of my teachers, Kim Clark. We presented Factoring Using the Area Model. It is very rewarding to work with a teacher who pushes you to grow because she wants to be better. I have learned a lot from her over the years and was thrilled to get to present this session with her.

This is a slide from our presentation. Did you know that the diagonals of the area model have the same product? Using that fact, we asked participants to find the possible area models. This question is the lynch pin of the investigation we did with students to help them develop a strategy for factoring when a is not 1. It's pretty cool and effective.

Second highlight was hearing Jennifer Bay-Williams talk about Becoming Fluent in Developing Procedural Fluency. This is an area of growth and learning for me. I am an avid supporter and believer that conceptual understanding is critical to students understanding and making sense of mathematics. What I am learning is that it takes specific and intentional instruction to help students develop that understanding into procedural fluency. I am also learning how to better define fluency as more than just quick.

The last highlight I'd like to share was the session from Dr. Valerie Faulkner on Opportunity, Equity & Agency: How do our grouping practices mediate student sense of mathematical identity? She makes a very convincing argument about how grouping in education (high and low students) just doesn't make a lot of sense. The statement I have been using to summarize her talk is one she made.

"We are surprisingly bad at evaluating what a person can and will do even if we have a vested interest in doing so." 

We should stop trying to separate students using some abstract high and low characteristic of student ability. We must begin to talk about students in regards to what they know and when they need to work on.

As I shared, the three days were a whirlwind. I am excited about new friendships developed and being able to connect with teachers from across the state. Maybe I'll even start blogging more often. Haaaa.....Haaaaa.....Haaaa. No promises but always a goal.

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