Thursday, October 14, 2010

OCTM 2010

I've spent the day at the annual Ohio Council Teachers of Mathematics.  It's a great state conference, affordable and full of smart math teachers to learn from. 

My first session with William Wever, from the University of Toledo was right up my alley.  His session centered around the notion of mathematics being more than counting.  In mathematics there's procedural knowledge and conceptual knowledge.  He strongly urged the audience to embrace conceptual knowledge.  Conceptual knowledge is about relationships, connecting pieces of information to other pieces, taking new information and making connections to prior information.  Conceptual knowledge can use a concept map as a pre and post assessment.  He examples of ways to develop and use structures to help the brain develop strong number concepts.

My next session was about writing in mathematics.  One idea I walked away with was to have students write a math autobiography.  This would be a great tool to get to know them and understand their past experiences with math.  They also suggested having the parents write one about their child.  Another idea I thought was interesting if I was teaching older students is a preassessment using a list of unit vocabulary.  Students put a check next to the word if they get it, a question mark if they aren't sure and an x if they have no clue.

I can't wait to use a clothesline to help teach mathematics and build number sense with digit cards.  Thanks Timothy McKeny from Ohio University for your great ideas!

Douglas Clements from University of Buffalo, near my old stomping grounds at Buffalo State, was promoting better mathematics.  He spoke a lot about his early education work and research was very informative.  He said several times, "drill without meaning doesn't work."  The students learn it short term and it doesn't stay with them, one reason fact fluency is repeated every year.  We have to know our learning trajectories and help foster continuous growth.  We can't spin our wheels doing something our students can already do or know how to do. 

I learned a lot about the new Common Core standards and yea the math curriculum is changing in kindergarten.  We will be focusing on counting and cardinality, going beyond our current expectations (with other things).  This has big ramifications and implications with curriculum and assessment.  It was suggested that kdg. embrace them next year so the third graders in 2014 are prepared when their assessments change.

It was a full day of learning.  A few sessions tomorrow and a presentation.  Sharing 50 picture books in 50 minutes, I better talk fast.  My hope is with that many books there will be something new to participants.  I'm sharing something old and something new, come have a look I've got a book for you!

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