Getting to an out of town conference always takes a bit of work and once I'm there, I never regret going. Last week, I gathered with other state educators at the annual Ohio Council Teachers of Mathematics for two days of learning. The conference theme was Bouncing Mathematical Ideas Around: Connecting and Collaborating in the Rubber City (Akron, OH). The two days were just that; connecting and learning from and with others. It's hard to replicate everything said, seen, and pondered so I'll share ten highlights in no particular order.
Juli Dixon shared, when students don’t have access to a productive struggle that becomes an equity issue. We need to think about just in time scaffolding and not plan for just in case. Allowing space for productive struggle and discourse. That discourse could be student to student and student to teacher.
Many of us live in a time where we are asked to post essential questions and/or learning targets in our classroom. Juli Dixon urges us to zoom out for these to prevent giving away the punch line. This encourages discovery and exploration. I'd like to think of it as a means for fostering inquiry and connections.
Juli Dixon and friends have a new book, Small Group, Big Gains: Leading Effective Pulled Small Group Instruction. She shared some sneak peaks from it that really nudged my own thinking about math workshop. The purpose for small group work is for diagnosis and differentiation. Diagnosis lets us see and hear student thinking up close; discovering misconceptions and understandings. Differentiation is a place for remediation and enrichment.
She also suggested small groups aren't needed every day and grouping should be organized in a moderately heterogeneous way. I loved hearing her support small groups are NOT ability groups.
C-R-A model; Concrete (models), Representational (drawings) and Abstract (equations) was highlighted in two of my sessions. Both sessions reminded us that at any given time we have students sitting in front of us at each of these stages.
We want to use the CRA model to help build mathematical fluency.
Dan Meyer encourages us to bring surprise back to teaching mathematics. Good stories have lots of surprises and surprise brings interesting learning. He had us ponder, What is a mathematical surprise? He stated, textbooks ruin surprise. He urged us to make math class more like things our students like to do.
Numberless word problems is something to look at.
I participated in my first 3 Act Math Tasks and would agree the purpose of these activities is to engage our students, understand math is needed in real life and changes math feelings.
Working with numbers abstractly doesn't work...students need numbers in context. Let's anchor it to How Many pictures and children's literature.