Sunday, March 1, 2015

OCMC Learning and Reflection

I had the privilege of attending the Orange County Mathematics Council 2015 Symposium last Monday, and it was an evening full of great learning.  My only disappointment was that this was the first of these events I had attended - I really wish I would have known about them while I was in the classroom!

The Symposium is an evening with a keynote and 2 breakout sessions.  Here are a few of my thoughts and reflections:

Keynote: Chris Shore
You can see his slide deck linked here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

  • The only way our students will get better is if we get better.
  • The 4 1/2 principles of quality math instruction, which include:
    • Standards - focus on limited number of topics
    • Concepts - teach students to understand, not mimic
    • Substance - higher order thinking
    • Accountability - hold all students accountable for knowledge and performance
    • Rapport - reach before teach
  • The real 21st century skills: "Teach students to THINK and COMMUNICATE their thinking"
    • In the 20th century, we taught students to obtain and retain.  This is no longer important, since the information can be obtained from basically anywhere. 
  • Chris talked about many groups of ideas that have been referred to as 21st century skills, including:
    • 6 Shifts (Engage NY)
      • Focus, Coherence, Fluency, Deep Understanding, Application, Dual Intensity
      • The last four used to be referred to as "rigor', now they are separated
      • Dual intensity refers to focusing on both skills/practice AND application/understanding with dual intensity
    • 4 C's (EdLeader 21)
      • Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity
      • These should redefine learning and school
      • 60% of dialogue in class should be student to student
    • 4 Claims (SmarterBalanced / PARCC)
      • Concepts & Procedures, Critical Thinking, Communicate Reasoning, Construct Model
    • 8 Mathematical Practices (CCSS) 
      • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
      • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
      • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
      • Model with mathematics
      • Use appropriate tools strategically.
      • Attend to precision.
      • Look for and make use of structure.
      • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
      • The 8 Practices are for the students, not the teachers
      • These 8 Practices are the content standards!
      • Resources for teaching the 8 mathematical practices

  • As we looked at all of these, they all came back to students being able to THINK and COMMUNICATE their thinking.
  • What is a Problem?
    • An exercise is something that you know how to do and have the ability to do
    • A crisis is something you don't know how to do and don't have the ability to do
    • A problem is something that you don't know how to do but have the ability to do so... this is where we want our students working!
  • We must have dual objectives in our teaching.  30% of teaching should be notes-oriented (what they should know) and 70% should be task-oriented (what they should do).  Every day we should have both pieces.
    • Yes, we still need some "drill and kill".  But that's 30%.
  • Tasks are problems that are used to teach both content and practices.
  • There are a lot of great quotes on his slide deck from "The New Classroom"
    • In a nutshell, the CCSS expect that, instead of knowing the answer, students must now be able to create the answer, make claims and produce evidence from text to support their claims.
    • Instead of working mathematics problems, students must be able to apply mathematics concepts to real-world situations and write about their thinking in moving to a solution.
    • This change requires a different style of instruction than what many have come to call “sit and get.” 
    • That means that, in most cases, teachers will have to encourage much more student work and student discourse and engage in far less teacher talk.
 Cat Nolan - Give your students purpose to conquer Common Core
  •  She doesn't have quizzes and tests, she has "games" and "practices".  Remember, not all practices are fun, you will sweat and be sore, but it will prepare you for the game
  • Making ONE problem connect with the kids is better than 40 practice problems
  • We aren't here to be managers are homework.  We are there to teach life skills, critical thinking skills, and concepts. 
  • Strategies for "common core-izing" traditional problems
    • Explain your thinking
    • Easy number type question?  Let's use that to solve this.
    • Turn into a statement and analyze
    • Turn into a story
    • Error analysis - where did they go wrong?  Why was it wrong?  How would you do it correctly?

Nanette Johnson - Fostering Perseverance with Interesting Math Problems
  • We did a few different math problems (see slides for other examples), but the one below is my favorite.  Think about the level of thinking required to complete the problem below vs. doing 40 factoring problems!

Other great resources I came across:

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