By Saturday, I was whomped, but kept going because I only had a few solid hours left to experience NCTM. Of all the days, I walked out of the most sessions this day. But, some of my favorite sessions were this day.
Beyond Relevance & Real World: Dan Meyer
I didn’t attend Dan’s session because I knew he’d be posting it online. With other PD not being posted/easily accessible I attended other PD. Resources
My takeaways from watching his talk today:
– We have to ask students FOR questions to invest them
– Wrong answers and best guesses/estimations improve student outcomes.
– it is in our best interest to redefine “real world” mathematics in the broadest sense to engage students. Just because there’s a picture or a word problem doesn’t actually push for better student engagement.
The Life-Changing magic of Tidying the Math Curriculum: Jason Zimba
Jason spoke to a lot of the same issues of Graham Fletcher’s #ShadowCon16 from the day before. As an author of CCSSM, it was interesting to hear him speak and tear down some of the assumptions and critiques around the standards. His biggest push was not to teach too many methods or procedures.
On methods he noted that some things “go stale” and that what is easiest for students may not help them with later mathematics. Other methods we teach should complement not replace the standard algorithm.
On procedures, he admitted that procedures have a place – for procedural tasks. However, they don’t belong to be taught to answer conceptual questions (like the vertical line test). If we teach a different procedure for every problem, students will be overwhelmed and think math is a series of procedures instead of a coherent body of work.
Finally, Zimba called us to “pursue ultimate simplicity” in our curriculum to advance students.
– Curriculum needs to be carefully vertically aligned, with knowledge of what is to come to bet promote student learning
– Think about when I teach things as a procedure (which I do) and reflect on its effectiveness (hint: it isn’t 97% of the time)
Assessment Structures that Work: New Visions for Public Schools
If you can’t tell, I have an assessment addiction because mine kinda suck, and I’m still not happy with how I use assessments in class. David Wees and Erik Laby friends however made such a challenging topic so simple. This hour was one of my favorites of the week.
My “Why on earth hadn’t you thought about this before?” moment was how they code formative assessment based on strategy and track it. Then use that data for the entire unit. When I’ve done that before for a MARS task it was just short term, never long term/unit wide preassessment. They’ve created (and shortly will share) rubrics that give us data on strategies, not scores to improve instruction.
They also designed a common curriculum for teachers in their work to have common conversations. Their breakdown is: Course -> Units -> Task (initial task on prior knowledge with a non-traditional rubric) -> Teachers teach the big ideas of the unit however they feel is best -> Formative Assessment -> Re-engagement tool -> then a “balanced” assessment. This wasn’t a sales pitch, but I think I’ll be an advocate for adopting their model 9-12 because so much of their work just makes sense. And, they have done all the hard work we can’t improve.
And, I had some great conversations with my neighbor and she pushed my thoughts and recommended Dylan William’s work on formative assessment She also said that I seem to be doing good things – it’s the little things that make you feel good 🙂
Personal Action steps:
– Ensure whatever we adopt of 16-17 has a strong formative assessment already built in that is simple to use
– Become consistent about formative assessment
– Think about the thinking students are doing at the beginning of a unit and use that as a way to bridge their thinking to what they need to be doing.