Before I head down to CMC North after work tomorrow with my colleagues Bob and Allan, I need to summarize everything I learned from CMC South a month ago before I arrive at Asilomar tomorrow.
It was my first time at south, and when my speaking proposal for 3D printing Desmos graphs was accepted, I was beyond excited, and a bit intimidated. I had never flown to a concert. I spoke at Asilomar and CPM’s national conference last year, but CMC south was uncharted territories. It lived up to and beyond the hype.
My principal paid for a substitute Friday and I flew out of SFO Thursday night. I planned my day for Friday, and here’s how it went:
Session 1: Grace Kelemanik: Contemplate then Calculate
I own Routines for Reasoning already, and I arrived early to introduce myself and she signed it. Grace is so nice and personable. Her name is pronounced “Kelluhmanick.” I also met someone I know from twitter at my table, Megan, @meganjoy5, and met Deborah. Megan shared the same admiration for Sara Vanderwerf and her name tents and Megan was raving about how stand and talks made her usually quiet students speak more. I have to watch that Global math on it at some point.
Back to the opening session. The goal was to learn how to facilitate productive math conversations. Why do we want students to learn how to discourse? Students construct knowledge socially. She played “Let’s give them something to talk about” by Bonnie Ray.
We were also reminded how important it is for teachers to have a poker face when listening to ideas so we don’t immediately give away that the answer is right, or wrong.
Instructional routines are great for many reasons. They have a predictable design, and students get better at it the more you practice it. Her website is fosteringmathpractices.com.
My biggest takeaway was this: in contemplate then calculate, the first pair of students that share have a sentence starter: “We noticed…” When you listen to them, you gesture to the dot talk image, do not write. Then, ask the rest of the class to restate their thinking with this sentence starter: “They noticed… so they…” THEN you annotate. I love this move so much because it keeps students accountable for knowing what others say, and you only write it when someone else repeats it.
All the routines end with a reflection prompt. You can choose your starter, such as “to find a shortcut, look for…” or “Noticing _________ helped count _______.”
My reflection was, “Knowing area of squares comes in handy when counting quickly because you can quickly get an array of dots that form a square quickly.”
It’s important to be explicit about the goal: how you learned to think like a mathematician in the future.
Session 2: Daniel Rocha, then Robert Kaplinsky
Daniel Rocha was given an awfully tiny room and I was rejected due to fire code and not being allowed to stand. He gave me the link to his slides at bit.ly/Rocha_CMC2018.
I had never seen Robert Kaplinsky present, but I had met him at NCTM SF a few years back. I have also liked his Ignites when I watched them online, so I was excited. He was in a huge room with a lot of attendance.
His session had us ranking lays, nacho cheese doritos, cool ranch, cheetos, sun chips, and fritos from 1-6 to see how they could distribute them in a variety back to maximize profits.
We also looked at a task of a large drug bust of money. We estimated how much money the huge brick of 100 dollar bills would be.
Session 3: Think Like a Mathematician by Vicki Vierra and Jim Short
I was really excited about this session. The description clearly said that we would be working on mathematical language routines. That was one of main focuses, since they are integrated with the Open Up Math curriculum. Vicki and Jim did a great job. We worked on this task:
They flashed it on the screen briefly, just so we could discuss what we noticed. It was great because it didn’t make you quickly solve. I think this was Contemplate then Calculate, #cthenc, again, but I was glad it wasn’t a dot image.
Once again, the first person to share, the presenter, had sentence starters: “We noticed… so we… We knew.. so we…, or our shortcut works because..”
Again, you only gesture when the first person shares. Second person who restate, the audience, says “they noticed… so they… They knew… so they… or This shortcut works because…”
My reflection was, “to find a calculation shortcut, look for relationships between numbers and see if they are divisible by a common factor.
In our group discussion, it came up that shortcut had a negative connotation. So we brainstormed replacements: elegant or efficient” method.
The 3-read strategy or routine helps students identify quantities and relationships. We want students to ask themselves, “What can I count or measure? How are those things related?”
- What is the problem about? (3 types of laughs)
- What is the question? (how funny is a cackle in point value?)
- What information is important
Making a t-chart helps, brainstorming quantities and relationships. We were also asked to do a sketch. I had read parts of the book Routines for Reasoning where students didn’t make sketches to scale, so when I worked on mine, I used my grid paper to properly scale the problem, like this:
Session 4: Geometry Practices by Jed Butler and Jenn Vadnais
The audience here was great because I got to sit with Casey, Chrissy, and Michael Fenton was there too. They had a huge Desmos activity builder that they ran the presentation through and it went really well. Tons of cool little activities that showed the progression of geometry from area of rectangles to much more complex shapes. We did a paper and pencil Steve Wyborney activity. We also used the Desmos sketch tool to find area. We were creating formulas by decomposing and rearranging.
Day 2 Session 1:
My session! I was first one of the day, and it was great. I think I’ll have a separate blog post about that. I was surprised by the great attendance, at least 60 people and I got great feedback from people in person.
Day 2 Session 2: Student Agency by Daisy and Katerina from mathagency.org
Here we did some role playing about lesson study. We watched a group work on an open ended problem where figure 1 is 1 tile and figure 2 is 8, and watch what they could come up with.
We were attending to status, sharing a student’s idea for the class to consider, and they are trying to abolish the phrase “I’m not a math person.” I recognized Katerina’s name and I was right, she is the same person who wrote the Functions unit with the border problem that’s on YouCubed!
Day 2 Session 3: Empower Students with Disabilities as Math Thinkers by Rachel Lambert
I follow Rachel on twitter (@mathematize4all) and know she is well respected when it comes to students with disabilities (SwD). She asked us what problems we see in math teaching and learning for these special populations? Cognitive deficits, achievement gap, SwD not offered access to standards-based instruction and not participating deeply.
I can honestly say I’m so glad our non-mainstream classes are using the same Open Up curriculum with more support and a slower pace. That’s awesome news to report.
What are her main takeaways? We need to change the way we think about disability. We need to offer intervention in our classroom, build relationships, see student strengths, invest in problem-solving routines, and provide scaffolds.
Then she talked about UD, Universal Design. It is when we design anything we want to expand the group of people who use it. We need to students to participation in math discussions because this predicts achievements. They need to engage in the strategies of their peers. Without supports, SwD participate less actively. The SMPs, or Standards for Mathematical Best Practices are best practices for ALL students, SPED, EL, everybody.
Rachel researched a 5th grade classroom where they had a consistent routine of number strings and CGI story problems. They worked on fractions, partitive and measurement.
They noticed that SwD are more willing to share if they are collaboratively sharing in front of the class with their partner, not standing by themselves.
Day 2 Session 4: Mathematical Practices for Struggling Learners by Amy Lucenta
Amy co-authored Routines for Reasoning with Grace. She was also gracious enough to take a picture with me and sign her book.
When students work within contexts, they are using MP 1, 2, 4. When they communicate their ideas: MP 1, 3, 6. When they connect ideas and representations: MP 2, 4, 5, 7. And when students abstract and generalize, they are using MP 2, 7, 8.
We can ensure all students are doing these by using specific routines that support students in how to communicate effectively.
That is interconnected and makes sense.
How can we support our special populations? Give them avenues for thinking.
Like helping their quantitative reasoning. A quantity is something you can count or measure. It has 3 things: a value, sign, and unit. A simple tip like giving a sentence starter like “The number of…” helps students track important information in problems.
We then did a dot talk. We looked for repetition. I came up with the equation 4(N-1)+4 by visually looking at the pattern. My reflection was: when looking for repetition, I learned to pay attention to how groups of dots being added is related to the figure number.
Friday night pizza was a lot of fun, and it was great taking selfies with all the people I talk to on Twitter. It was also shocking that people recognized me from Twitter and as the guy who is the “Open Up Math guru.” CMC South was awesome and I hope to go every year. The fact that they cover your travel costs is a huge motivating factor. Now that I’ve blogged about my experience, I can come back to these notes and actually use them and now create more space in my brain for this weekend: Asilomar!