Sunday, November 22, 2015

NCTM Conference Reflections and Thoughts

This past Thursday and Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Nashville. Although there was so much that I got from this conference, I wanted to take a moment to reflect and process on the conference.  Before mentioning reflections and thoughts, I wanted to say that I had the opportunity to connect and network with other math teachers as well as make some connections through the Math Twitter Blogosphere, a community in which I hope to be a integral part of in the future.

Without further adieu, here are my reflections from the conference.

1. I have been guilty of not creating productive struggle for my students.

  • I throughly enjoyed the section on productive struggle. I have heard of this term, but I have been unsure of how to implement it in my classroom. Often I have heard my students say that other teachers do not help them. However, I am realizing that probably means that teachers are making students do more of the thinking themselves and creating productive struggle. Furthermore, productive struggle causes students to be more independent and persistent with math. I want to be able to implement this more effectively. 

2. I need to be more creative in lesson planning and relying less on worksheets and other traditional methods of instruction.

  • I was so amazed by Dr. Marcia Tate's presentation of "Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites." Dr. Tate discussed how to operate math classes without relying solely on worksheets. Her research is brain-based and (once again) requires students to do more of the thinking and creating. I especially enjoyed the methods of reading out aloud, such as reading with a British accent and standing on one leg while reading. I can't wait to implement a lot of her ideas in my classroom. I also liked how she talked about the Singapore model for math as well as having students have confidence in themselves. 

3. Inquiry and problem-based learning does not happen overnight.

  • Geoff Krall's presentation on inquiry based learning was also really inspiring. Krall, though, gave a very interesting point that inquiry learning does not happen overnight and to transition slowly, even if it is one or two tasks per unit to use as instruction. He also gave participants a framework for applying problem solving in the classroom as well as some ideas that I could use for my First Five, which is what I call my bell ringer. I can't wait to reflect more on these methods and figure out how to integrate some of them, especially next semester, since we are on block scheduling. 

4. I have also been guilty of doing too much thinking for my students.

  • During the session on productive struggle, I had a conversation with two other people about helping students on tests. I admitted that I offer too much help on tests. I think that stems from the fact that I was one of those students who did not have as much confidence with my math skills. I have came to realize over time, though, that my feelings from high school have been counterproductive to my students. It's time for me to let go and let them fly. This will be more of a struggle for me, I am sure. So, I got some input from other participants. One suggested going over the questions before the test and calling for final questions. One stated that many of her kids's questions were from the fact that students did not read the question. Another mentioned limiting the students on the number of questions they are allowed to ask. I would love to get even more input on this. 

5. It takes time to build community through the MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere).

  • This conference gave me the skills necessary to be able to connect with other people in the MTBoS. I am especially grateful for @jreulbach and @mslailanur for their kind help and encouraging words about becoming a better part of the MTBoS. I also learned how to do Math Chats through hashtags, so I am looking forward to being able to participate in these. 

Anyways, here is one last humorous pic to sum up the event! 


  1. Sounds like you have a great place to start. Welcome to the MTBoS!

    1. Thanks so much for the comment and the welcome to the MTBoS. I feel energized for what's ahead.

  2. Thanks for your recap! One of these days I'm going to make it to a conference too. So much to learn!

    1. Thanks Bonnie! You will not regret going. You may want to find if there is a local math teachers' association that does a yearly conference. I have went to a couple of those within my region of the state. :)


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