Category: presentation

Total 40 Posts

#CMCMath Opening Keynote Address – Practice Problems

This is the keynote address I gave at CMC North this weekend with my co-presenters Shira Helft, Juana de Anda, and Fawn Nguyen.

The premise:

For a long time I worried I had chosen the wrong career. Other careers seemed like they had so much in their favor – better pay, less homework, more flexibility on the timing of bathroom breaks, etc. If you followed this blog ten years ago, you witnessed that worry.

Then a conversation with some of my close friends convinced me why I – and we – never have to envy any other career:

We have the best questions.

At least for me, no other job has more interesting questions than the job of helping students learn and love to learn mathematics.

A career in teaching means freedom from boredom.

To illustrate that, I interviewed three teachers at different stages in their careers – a teacher in her first decade, her second decade, and her third decade of teaching. I asked them, “What questions are you wondering right now?” Then we each took ten minutes to share our four questions.

But our talks weren’t disconnected. An important thread connected each of them, and I elaborated on that connection at the end of the talk.


Please pitch in. Tell us all in the comments:

What question motivates you this year? What question wakes you up in the morning and energizes you throughout your day?

Featured Comments


The question that drives me is “How can I present this in a fashion that will be so interesting that they will not only want to learn it, but they will remember it next week, next month, and next year?”

Andrew Stadel:

Whether with my family (most important), the teachers I support, or students I work with:
How am I being present?

[NCTM16] Beyond Relevance & Real World: Stronger Strategies for Student Engagement

My talk from the 2016 NCTM Annual Meeting is online. I won’t claim that this is a good talk in absolute terms or that this talk will be good for your interests. I only know that, given my interests, this is the best talk I have ever given.

My premise is that we’re all sympathetic towards students who dislike mathematics, this course they’re forced to take. We all have answers to the question, “What does it take to interest students in mathematics?” Though those answers are often implicit and unspoken, they’re powerful. They determine the experiences students have in our classes.

I lay out three of the most common answers I hear from teachers, principals, policymakers, publishers, etc., two of which are “make math real world” and “make math relevant.” I offer evidence that those answers are incomplete and unreliable.

Then I dive into research from Willingham, Kasmer, Roger & David Johnson, Mayer, et al., presenting stronger strategies for creating interest in mathematics education.

My call to action will only make sense if you watch the talk, but I hope you’ll take it seriously, give it a try, and let us know how it goes.


BTW. I’ve already received one email asking me, “Wait? Are you saying never make math real world?” No. My principles for instructional design often lead me to design applied math tasks. But “make math real world” isn’t a great first-order principle because, as a category, “real world” is poorly defined and subjective to the student.

Featured Comment

Dan Smith:

This was a really helpful talk in illuminating why it doesn’t work to simply drop a mundane math task into some sort of “relevant” or “real-world” context. And it was great that you didn’t stop at deconstructing these unhelpful approaches, but instead went on to share specific ways to think, steps to take, and tools to use to increase engagement and thoughtfulness in our math classrooms. A very natural follow-up to the famous “Math class needs a makeover” talk.

My 2016 Speaking Schedule


Here is my speaking calendar for 2016. Some of these sessions are private, others have open registration pages (see the links), and others have waiting lists. Feel free to send an e-mail to with inquiries about any of them. It’d be a treat to see you at a workshop or a conference.

BTW. After my keynote address at Nebraska’s state conference on September 9, 2016, I’ll have worked with teachers in every U.S. state. It’s been such a privilege getting to know so many interesting people doing so much interesting work. If you have attended any of my sessions, you’ve heard me express how indebted I am to participants from other sessions for the questions they ask about my ideas and the ideas they share themselves.

Fake-World Math: When Mathematical Modeling Goes Wrong and How to Get it Right

Fake-World Math was the talk I gave for most of 2014, including at NCTM. It looks at mathematical modeling as it’s defined in the Common Core, practiced in the world of knowledge work, and maligned in print textbooks. I discuss methods for helping students become proficient at modeling and methods for helping them enjoy modeling, which are not the same set of methods.

Also, a note on process. I recorded my screen throughout the entire process of creating the talk. Then I sped it up and added some commentary.

NCTM 2015 Schedule

Poking my head up briefly to let you know where I’ll be speaking at NCTM in Boston this week:

I really think we should spend Thursday evening together.

From 3:30 on you have a) the Ignite sessions, which are always fun, then you have b) ShadowCon, which is basically the future of NCTM conferences, after which c) your two favorite math education companies want to buy you a drink.

If you’re looking for help with the rest of your schedule, have a look at this list of Internet-enabled presenters as well as any of the names from my list last year.

For my part, if I can only make it to one session, it’s going to be this one.