Asilomar 2007

or: What Not To Call Your Presentation.

I’m taking a schoolUpdated: my school is paying for my substitute and registration. Thanks a bunch. day today and driving 45 minutes South to Monterey, CA, for two-and-a-half days of math-instruction instruction. I’m pumped.

This blog was born during Asilomar last year, y’know? I got into a conversation with this lady named Rebecca who was all crazy about blogs in the classroom and I was like, huh?, and she said, well you’ve heard of David Warlick, right?, and I was like, huh?, and the conversation kept up like that until the day that you and I first metWish I could find Rebecca’s blog now. She’s, like, medium build, shoulder-length hair, and, um, average height. Maybe one of you School 2.0 types knows her..

I’ve been looking forward to Asilomar 2007 ever since. This year you’ve got my favorite high school math teacher (Sid Bishop, Ukiah High School) and my favorite college math professor (Tom Sallee, UC Davis) conducting sessions back to back. Them boys are gonna bring the walls down.

But excepting sure-bets like those, selecting breakout sessions is a delicate game. One can’t help leaning heavily on session titles.

The titles which beckon me:

  • Using Manipulatives and Investigations in Geometry
  • Who Should Take Algebra? And What If They’re Not Ready?
  • 50 Years Since I’ve Taken Algebra 1. What’s Happened?
  • From My Algebra Toolkit To Yours – From a 24-Year Veteran
  • Math 20-20 Vision: What Will K-8 Math Education Look Like In 2020“For the first time in 2,500 years, we have a medium ideally suited to teach basic math skills.” Suppose he’s talking about the phonograph?
  • Amazing Things To Try With Your Class Set Of TI-83s
  • Math In The Real World: Investments and Taxes
  • Algebra Techniques Using An Excel Spreadsheet
  • Streamlining Your Classroom

Or, basically, give a clear, targeted goal or issue a clear, intriguing question and I’m sold.

Conversely, here are the titles which’ll have me hovering around the pastry cart for the duration of the session:

  • Games And Tricks To Put The F-Word Back In Teaching – FUN!Oh man, I almost thought he was gonna go there.
  • Eureka! Discover Gold! Integrate Math And History.
  • LOGical Arithmetics: Fun, Insightful And As Easy As Falling Off A Log!
  • Engage!
  • The Ethnomathematics Of Dance!Oh man, this one hits all of my buttons.
  • Teach With 99% Inspiration And 1% Perspiration
  • Math’s a Beach

So, best to avoid cheap puns, promises of inspiration, uplift, exclamation points.

But, I mean, don’t take any of this too prescriptively. I’m at sessions as much for presentation style as content so maybe you want to ward off ornery kids like me with a few exclamation points.

No way I sleep all weekend. If you’re heading my way and want to meet up, get at me on my burner, or just keep an eye out for a tall dude, head tucked low, back of the room, scribbling all over a yellow legal pad. That’ll be me.

for your consideration:

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I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. You have to take personal day to attend something work-related? Good for you for doing that.

    What’s the name of the conference? Googling “asilomar” just gets me the info on the conference venue.

  2. An ed class necessary for clearing the credential got scheduled – smack – right on top of the Asilomar conference.

    Will the rest of you be nice and blog a little about the highlights?

  3. Bummer you ain’t around, H. We’d have fun. First session blew my mind. Walked out of the second session early. I intend to toss out some drive-by remarks on everything I attend but don’t expect the usual coherency.

    PS. Scott, I’m mixed up. My district is paying for the sub day and registration. It’s like Christmas in early December.

  4. OK, so “Asilomar” is the name of the conference center? Sorry, it took me a few minutes (and a Google search) to realize it wasn’t some horrible acronym. I actually thought that was the name of the presentation that you were referring to (“…what not to call your presentation…”).

    I half-laugh and half-cringe when I read the names of seminars at conferences. Just like there is some sort of genre of doctoral dissertation titles, there is another genre of conference seminar names. And they are both genres that don’t really do a very good job of conveying what I’m really going to learn about in their session.

    Rich’s rule #1: I really try to avoid presentations by vendors – some are pretty good but somehow they all eventually wind up with some sort of pitch, either subtle or not-so-subtle.

    At FCTM a couple of months ago (we just name our conference after the state association), I attended a session on Geogebra, which is a really sweet (in my opinion) open source competitor to Geometer’s Sketchpad. And it turned out that the presenter was the author of the software himself, which was kind of cool.

  5. By the way, I was thinking more about that conference center…. if it’s in Spanish, then doesn’t that mean something like “asylum by the sea?”


  6. Dude, did you see deer? The POY and I presented there last year, in this little circular room by the beach: waves are rolling in, we’re talking school reform, three deer walk by and I kinda forget to talk because my schema don’t allow deer to walk on the beach while I’m wearing a suit.

    In any event, my January Asilomar presentation is tentatively entitled: Be the Molotov Cocktail of Reading Instruction: Before, During, and After Strategies.

  7. Yeah, coupla deer crossed my path here but, sorry, those creatures are the rats of the forest. They’re everywhere, but usually on some dimly lit corner of my street.