NCSM Day 3 ~ Reflections

Wow! NCSM never fails to fill me with feels, challenge me to expand my learning, and inspire me to fight the good fight! Just when I was feeling completely disheartened and ready to give up… The PEOPLE!! Never in my life have I been surrounded by so many insanely talented educators who are all eager and ready to work collaboratively towards this vision that we all share.

Common Vision? Check.  
Research? Check.
Man Power? Check.
The Will & Drive to do the work? Check.
Plan for how to do the work? Check.

I feel the need to personally thank and shout out to those who imparted wisdom on me these last 3 days:
Annie Fetter, Cathy Seeley, David Woods, Erica Burnison, Geoff Krall, Graham Fletcher, Jo Boaler, John SanGiovanni, Kristin Gray, Kristopher Childs, Marc Garneau, Marilyn Burns, Michael Young, Michelle Rinehart, Nanatte Johnson, Stacy Reeder & Juliana Utley, Rachel Lambert, Robert Kaplinsky, Sarah Ives, Stephanie Reddick, Steve Leinwand, Sunil Singh, Tim Hudson, Tracy Zager, Zalman Usiskin, …

And of course my team who over the last 10 months has pushed my thinking and supported even my craziest ideas (they may have had some crazy fun ideas of their own, too). Words cannot express how grateful I am that we did this together. Jennifer Graziano, Tim Hébert, and Stephen Arndt. You are the Dream Team!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also appreciate and acknowledge Mikila Fetzer, my Coordinator, for always pushing us and believing in us. And lastly but most importantly, my husband, whose honesty is a necessary evil and whose unconditional support keeps me going when my belief falters. Thank you babe.

My takeaways from today are numerous, so let’s get to it!

  1. The 5 Practices came up ALL 3 DAYS!! If you haven’t picked it up and read it in a while, go read it. And then share it with your team, and read it again!

Today I was thinking that Step 1: Anticipation can be really hard because we don’t always KNOW how students might solve. As teachers we don’t always have the content knowledge.

This is why opening up the task to allow many representations is SO important! We need to learn alongside our students! Jo Boaler quoted Cathy Humphreys saying,

“We should only ask [students] questions for which we don’t yet know the answer!”


So what kinds of questions are those?
-How did you think of that?
-What are you wondering?
-What connections are you making?

2. Give students time REGULARLY to discuss/defend/argue over a statement.

-There is no subtraction involved in multiplication.
-You always have to begin adding in the ones place.

3. How do you ensure that you are having meaningful conversations with each student in your class at least once a week? See Also: What does “meaningful” mean?

4. ASSESSMENT!! Ugh. In short: You cannot “teach” your students about Growth Mindset while simultaneously giving students tests that perpetuate a fixed mindset!!! This might be my new motto, so be prepared to hear me say this repeatedly.

Regarding both 3 & 4: Formative Assessment Practices are embedded in everything that students are doing. Tracy Zager says, “There are 4 channels for getting information about what students are thinking: Products, Observations, Conversations, & Student Self Evaluation.” Between these 4 strategies, you should have ample evidence of learning. AND they promote Growth Mindset. Right? And when you consider how you are going to record the evidence of student learning, it doubles as your opportunity to track the meaningful conversations you’ve had with students! 2fer! Voila!

5. Annie Fetter said it, Tracy Zager said something similar, it’s just a good teaching practice… take the question off the word problem! Let students Notice & Wonder, argue, defend, discuss, and then compare their models & representations. Such an easy way to open up your instruction and create more equitable outcomes.

6. If you haven’t enrolled yourself in Jo Boaler’s online courses yet, you have no excuse. Go! Do it!

7. I’m elated that so many teachers used Jo’s Week of Inspirational Math this year. She shared with us so much wonderful data around students who take her online course for students. Do that, too! Oh, and did I mention that Jo not only has a new book out called Limitless, but she’s also going to work with the California Department of Ed to rewrite the Math Framework!? SCORE!

I’ll continue posting resources in the coming days…

I’m sad I have to wait another year for NCSM. CMC is calling my name. I have a few ideas I’m throwing around for presentations for next year. If you have any interest in working with me on an idea you have, let me know! Teamwork makes the Dreamwork!!

 Viva la Revolution!!

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