Friday, June 8, 2012

NCTM Conference 2012 - Part 1

Okay, it's high time I share some of the knowledge I received at the NCTM Conference earlier this year.  Basically, I'm going to give you all the notes I took.

Exploring Space Through Math
April 26, 2012, Thursday, 8:00 - 9:00

During this session, I had the opportunity to play with a TI-NSpire.  It was pretty cool, but I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of learning I would need in order to use it.  Just imagine how my students would feel.  Anyway, I would like to learn more about them.

In this session they mention the 5 Es of a lesson:
1) Engage
2) Explore
3) Explain
4) Extend
5) Evaluate

On their website are a bunch of Activities.  During this presentation we took a look at an Algebra 1 activity for linear regression and it's application.

Achieving Uncommon Results with the CCSS
April 26, 2012, Thursday 9:30 - 10:30

In the case you didn't know CCSS is Common Core State Standards.  It seems that for this session I picked up a lot of little tidbits to pass along.

- Work on narrowing the gap between races.

- Quality Teaching - Plan for engagement - more focus on engagement and a little less on content.

- Features of Highly Effective Instructors

   Expectations on what is produced.  Less focus on procedures.
   Challenge students to think
   Start with a "hard" task and keep the level there
   Stop teaching students that a problem must be solved in a short amount of time.
   Teach students to preserver.
   Ha! Ha!  American students go to school to watch their teachers work.

- When a student is stuck, ask questions rather than give answers.

- Plan higher order questions ahead of time.

- Teach it all and teach it well.

- Small group support takes place in addition to whole class instruction.

I have a few comments on this presentation.  First of all I find that many of my students are uncomfortable when they don't know something.  I remember this one problem in particular.  I gave the students the information they needed to find the area of a triangle that was not a right triangle, but not the formula.  My students were mad. I mean mad.  They got nasty then.  Telling me that it wasn't their job to figure these things out.  They even went as far to tell me I wasn't doing my job.  I didn't give in and the students eventually found the answer and derived the formula on their own.  It was hard to tell if they felt pride in their work, because I believe they were embarrassed by their behavior.  Luckily, I can say that I wasn't embarrassed by mine.  I stayed calm and didn't take their directed anger personally, instead I assured them that they could do it.

Where do student get this idea that our job as teachers is to be the end-all source of information?  Our job as teachers is to provide the opportunity to learn.  We create the environment, they produce the outcome.  Things went better in the class after the horrible problem.  The students trusted me in that I would give them the tools they needed to solve a problem, and didn't give up as easily.

Another thought I have is the last bullet.  "Small group support takes place in addition to whole class instruction".  I LOVE this idea.  Especially in a co-taught class.  Picture this.  You and your special education co-teacher teach Algebra 1 first period.  Then later in the day, the identified (or struggling) students get a second class of Algebra 1 with the special ed. teacher to support what they were taught in first period.  Doesn't that make total sense?  Okay, okay, I know there is a time issue.  But, if it's important, administration would find a way.

This post is getting a little long....I will continue later.

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