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I’ve thought about “modeling” more than I’ve thought about any other specialization in mathematics. I’m learning less and less about it each year so I’m hopping onto a different track for awhile, moving onto other questions. First, I wanted to collect these links in one location:



Summarizing all of the above in a single paragraph:

Modeling asks students a) to take the world and turn it into mathematical structures, then b) to operate on those mathematical structures, and then c) to take the results of those operations and turn them back into the world. That entire cycle is some of the most challenging, exhilarating, democratic work your students will ever do in mathematics, requiring the best from all of your students, even the ones who dislike mathematics. If traditional textbooks have failed modeling in any one way, it’s that they perform the first and last acts for students, leaving only the most mathematical, most abstract act behind.

Daniel Willingham, in his book Why Don’t Students Like School:

Sometimes I think that we, as teachers, are so eager to get to the answers that we do not devote sufficient time to developing the question.

Scott Farrar, on my last post on motivating proof:

I think this latches onto the structure of the geometry course: we develop tool (A) to study concept (B). But curriculum can get too wrapped up in tool (A), losing sight of the very reason for its development. So we lay a hook by presenting concept (B) first.

ISTE just wrapped. NCTM wrapped several months ago. What was accomplished? What can you remember of the sessions you attended? Will those sessions change your practice and in what ways?

Zak Champagne, Mike Flynn, and I are all NCTM conference presenters and we were all concerned about the possibility that a) none of our participants did much with our sessions once they ended, b) lots of people who might benefit from our sessions (and whose questions and ideas might benefit us) weren’t in the room.

The solution to (b) is easy. Put video of the sessions on the Internet. Our solution to (a) was complicated and only partial:

Build a conference session so that it prefaces and provokes work that will be ongoing and online.

To test out these solutions, we set up Shadow Con after hours at NCTM. We invited six presenters each to give a ten-minute talk. Their talk had to include a “call to action,” some kind of closing homework assignment that participants could accomplish when they went home. The speakers each committed to help participants with that homework on the session website we set up for that purpose.

Then we watched and collected data. There were two major surprises, which we shared along with other findings with the NCTM president, president-elect, and executive director.

Here is the five-page brief we shared with them. We’d all benefit from your feedback, I’m sure.

Featured Comments

Marilyn Burns on her reasons for attending conferences like NCTM:

I don’t expect an NCTM conference to provide in-depth professional development, but act more like a booster shot for my own learning.

Elham Kazemi, one of our Shadow Con speakers, tempers expectations for online professional development:

I have a different set of expectations about conferences and whether going to them with a team allows you to go back to your own contexts and continue to build connections there. Can we expect conferences and the internet to do that — to feed our local collaborations? I get a lot of ideas from #mtbos and from my various conversations and conferences. But really making sense of those ideas takes another level of experience.

Shira Helft and Rick Barlow gave one of the most stellar talks at a recent, stellar math education conference. Like many teachers of ELL populations, they struggled to help their students speak mathematically. They described their transition from blunt prompts like “justify your answer” to precise participation structures they developed with their colleagues. They talked about two of those structures in their session – “math fights” and “middle bits” – which are simultaneously accessible and demanding. We could have kept that session running for another few days for all I cared.

They gave that talk to a room of maybe 50 teachers. It should have been 500, or however many math teachers there are in the world. (I assume around 500.) I hassled the Global Math Department to set them up with a forum, so here they are.

The live show is Tuesday, May 5, 6:00 PM Pacific Time. The recording will live on forever. Do yourself and your students a favor and watch it.

2015 May 4. I’m informed there’s a 100-person cap on live attendance, which means 400 of the world’s 500 math teachers will have to watch the recording. I’ll be sure to add that here once it’s available.

Every Handout From NCTM

Some people on Twitter were grousing about the inconvenience of clicking every single session link in the NCTM directory to find out if the speakers uploaded handouts. NCTM also mentioned that the handouts would only be available for about a month. For both of those reasons, I wrote a script to crawl all 814 talks and yank out the 208 with file uploads.

So here’s that directory. Or you can download all of the handouts in one big swipe [360MB] if you’d rather.

If you find anything interesting, do let us all know in the comments. It’s almost like you were there!

BTW: My slides don’t make a bit of sense without my voice attached so I don’t tend to upload them or send them around. I will be editing together video from my talk and posting it later this summer, though.

2015 Apr 26. In the comments, Eric Henry asked if my script could be easily tweaked to download all of the NCTM Research Conference’s handouts. It was easy! Man, code is cool. Directory + giant ball of handouts.

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