This day did not start off on the best foot as I was pretty sick yesterday afternoon and evening and decided to drive to Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Mathematics Council Conference earlier than planned since I felt better this morning and didn’t want to risk feeling worse as the day went on. I have two presentations tomorrow and wanted to make sure I saw them through.
Too many awesome things happened today, so list format it is!
1. My dogs were great with our early drive to WI and kept an eye out to make sure my driving was on par. (No, I was not driving when this was taken.)
2. WMC Sessions – Since I was in Wi, I decided to attend some sessions today. Classy conference provides complementary registration for speakers and it was a seamless process and well worth it!
- The How of Teaching! Cooking Up the Standards for Mathematical Practice – Tracy Frank – This was an informative session that provided discussion and modeling of the SMP. She used grouping activities/strategies. The strategies could be taken into the classroom the very next day and involved a lot of student discussion and reflection. I enjoyed the discussions with other math teachers and even ran into someone who attended my college for some of the same time I did. Small world.
- The Joy of Being a Math Interventionist – Laura Klescewski & Mary Seils – This was a great session with a lot of useful information, however not being from WI and not knowing much about their license/certification system, a few things were over my head. It also had a lot of focus on Elementary Interventions, which was stated in the grade band of PK – 6, but I wish there was a little more about the middle school. She shared some great book suggestions: Assisting Students with Mathematics: RTI for Elementary and Middle Students, Children’s Mathematics Cognitive Guided Instruction, Number Talks. I liked the outline of the presentation where they provide recommendations for you with your math interventions and explained why.
- Standards Based Grading, Math Common Core, and MORE! – Susan Grogan and Brian Witthun – This was a packed session and well worth it. Even though I already use SBG as an individual, I wanted to attend and see how a school district is doing it on a larger scale. They started by talking about school climate needing to be in a good place before you can begin conversations about changing practice. A quote I found important, “You are teaching to the standards and you don’t let students leave standards behind.” They took the time to change the CCSS to user friendly language in the form of I Can statements for students. What I really liked was that they also have a scoring rubric for Citizenship grades and it is separate from Academic grading. This is something that I have been wanting to implement in my classroom, so seeing and hearing their ideas was great! What I found daunting is that they created a scoring rubric for each standard. I agree that it needs to exist so students and teachers know what is expected, but I can only imagine how much time it took. I am adding this to my to do list for my future with SBG. Another focus they made sure we understood was that sometimes a skill assessment is a written test, sometimes it’s not…it could be a performance assessment, verbal discussions, hearing a student explain a topic to their group, etc. Think outside of the box! SBG allows for recognition of talents and skills that don’t conform to the norm. Many gifted students fall between the cracks of the traditional grading system. If you use SBG, you need to do SBL so that you really are hitting the students where they are, with what they need, gifted, regular or below standards.
- From Process to Product: Project-Based Learning Math in Middle School – Maggie McHugh – This was a GREAT presentation!!! My favorite of the day. She had examples to show us, problems for us to explore and solve and delivered her message with a great presentation. I just wish there was more time…it should have been a workshop instead of an hour presentation. She said she would post her documents on the WMC site…check them out, you won’t be disappointed. And because this was my favorite and I was so engaged, I didn’t take many notes. 😦 However it crossed my mind that this is similar to a Genius Hour in that the students are exploring their own questions about a topic. However the difference is that she will help them see where the math could be in their question and help tie it to math. The students go through a process of brainstorming, project proposal, research and writing, design and implementation, presentation defense and assessment. They also have a showcase project at the end of the year that they present to parents and guests. This is what I imagine the STEM school opening in the fall is going to be like and it sounds pretty amazing!
3. Hanging out with tweeps – I met Damion (@DamionBeth) and we had dinner along with great mathy conversations! Jennifer Lawler (@jenniferlawler) hunted us down while we were at dinner too. It’s nice to meet people that exist in our helpful online community and make connections! They are both so nice and we had great conversations. #1 being that WMC needs to get on the Twitter wagon and their conference location needs to have reliable wifi or at least HAVE wifi.
4. Finishing a proposal for NCTM 2015 in Boston with Heather Kohn (@heather_kohn). We worked on this for the last few days via a google doc, but had to fit it into the allotted characters and make sure it was conveying what we wanted it to. I am pretty amazed at the work that she did to initially get it started and proud of what we collaboratively turned it into.
5. Twitter convo about time zones. @chrishunter36, @trianglemancsd, @davidwees @j_lanier know what I am talking about. This revolved around the midnight deadline for the NCTM proposal. It closed midnight Eastern, but apparently the webmaster was sleeping because some people were still working on their proposal hoping to turn it in.
6. A random math teacher at the bar for dinner stopped me and asked to take a picture of my hair because she liked it so much. I cut 3 inches off on Wednesday and wasn’t entirely sure I liked it. This made me laugh and enjoy my hair cut a little more!