The theme of CMC North this year was "Student Voice, Let's Hear It!" I don't think you'll find a math educator that can disagree with this statement, and it was great to be able to spend an hour with Paul Jorgens and Richard Hung exploring different strategies and activities to promote student voice. You can access resources from their session, titled Fire Up The Math Classroom With Conversation, here.
I am grateful for the opportunities I've had lately to deepen my understanding of why student voice is so important. For Paul Jorgens and Richard Hung, student voice is an essential part of how their school is working to close the achievement gap. For many schools, the path to closing the achievement gap lies in creating support classes, intervention classes, after school programs, summer opportunities, etc. These are all important. But what you do during the time you have students in your class is equally important, and that was the purpose of Paul and Richard's session. Their course team is intentional about planning opportunities for classroom conversation throughout each unit. During the session we worked through WODB problems, Open Middle problems, as well as strategies they use to launch data lessons. I don't feel like I can do justice to this experience in a blogpost. Fortunately Paul has written about how he uses WODB and Open Middle problems using Desmos as a tool to support student understanding. I also recommend checking out Paul's Desmos activity on categorical data where students explore the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When exploring this and other data, Paul doesn't immediately include the context. Instead, he invites students to notice and wonder and do some computations before revealing the contexts.
Perhaps my biggest takeaway was the importance of giving students a chance to use their own language to describe things before we give them the words we want them to use. For me, an added bonus of building in social experiences to practice vocabulary is that students learn that their ideas matter, and that there isn't just one right answer in a math class.
If you want 180 ideas from Paul for supporting students, check out his #teach180 resources from the 2017-2018 school year. And if you want 180 more ideas consider following Paul and Richard on Twitter for their 2018-2019 #teach180 ideas.
Scott Davidson and Ethan Weker led a session on 3D printing. When I am learning about a new tech tool, I find it helpful to know some of the What, Why, and How of the tool. This session delivered in a really nice way on all three of these categories. Scott showed us how his students use a free program called Tinkercad to make name cards in his class. Ethan shared some of his student work from an assignment where he has them make their names in Desmos to 3D print. He has found that students made much more interesting designs for the name project vs before it was 3D printed because students knew they would have something to take home. Student ownership for the win!
In addition to student made products, we learned how teachers can 3D print their own manipulative. We played with 3D printed dice and learned that they were unfair, first by experimentation, and then by inspection. Ethan showed us a really interesting manipulative that helps explain why adjusting the b value in the standard form of a parabola moves the vertex in an parabolic path.
Teachers are creating and sharing designs for their own 3D printed manipulative at Thingiverse.
Jenny Wales and I presented "Designing with Desmos" during this time. Always a blast presenting with Jenny! Thank you to everyone that came to our session!
I went to a session on story tables led by Shira Helft and Taryn Pritchard. I didn't take any notes during this session because we spent nearly the whole time doing math! Really glad I had the chance to learn about this tool, which Shira and Taryn compared to a knife (practical and multi-use). You can use story tables to help students make sense of any function type, and they can be used to help students understand the relationship between the graph of a function and solving equations that involve that function type. Not only that, the story table helps students develop an intuitive understanding of how the order of operations plays out when solving equations.
Check out Shira's Global Math Department Webinar on story tables if you want to learn more.
Thanks to all of the presenters for helping us learn, and to all of the organizers for making CMC possible! Always a great time and top notch experience.