Fresh Air: NCTM Reflections

I’ve been reflecting on the NCTM Annual conference in San Francisco all over the place…in my head, with my spouse, with mathy friends etc and so I almost didn’t write a blog post.  San Francisco and the conference were fabulous:  Inspiring, motivating and fullfilling in so many ways, but I didn’t think I needed to process it in writing.   Then Sunday morning I got up and decided to attend the Sunday Celebration at Glide Memorial Church.   I haven’t felt the need to step foot in a church since my daughter was baptized, but the positive energy and love radiating from this place drew me in Sunday at 9 am.

As it turns out, the hour and a half at Glide was one of the most inspirational of the a weekend jam-packed with pockets of profound moments and inspirational experiences.  The guest poet was Chinaka Hodge .  She completely blew my mind in a way that makes me want to scour the internet and devour everything she’s ever created.  Another woman read a poem titled “It Began with Verbal Abuse” where she detailed an abusive relationship that left her with a missing tooth and an addiction to drugs.  Glide became her salvation.  The pastor read a poem about her mother’s experience as an Japanese-American in the 1940’s.  She founded Glide to help others like her.


View from my hotel room of Glide Memorial Church

So what is it about Glide or NCTM or the Math-Twitter-Blog-o-Sphere (MTBoS) that makes spending time together so special?  Echoing Lisa Henry’s closing remarks from TMC 15:  It’s the community (stupid).  But there’s more.  It’s our opportunity to tell people in 3-dimensions how much we have appreciate their work in 2-dimensions. In my world, this was captured quite perfectly while meeting Henri Picciotto.  After Anna (Blinstein) was gracious enough to introduce me, I asked him if he would mind getting a picture with me.  I think his exact words were “that’s kind of weird but ok”  (which made me adore him even more).


I’m not a regular part of Glide Memorial Church like I am the MTBoS, but the invitation is the same:  Come join our community.  We accept you as you are and we want to help you become a better version of yourself.  

Thank you everyone who helped fill my heart with such joy this weekend in San Francisco.



Something to Talk About

It’s April.  Have you heard of April?  It’s that month of the school year where all students can see is the finish line, and all teachers can do is expend a never-ending amount of energy trying to motivate students in these final weeks before summer.  I mean, come on kids, it’s not even May yet!  There aren’t even leaves or goslings or temperatures consistently above 40 for goodness sake! There is so much learning to be done before we send you off into the summer sun!

Anyway, I haven’t done a Number Talk in a couple of weeks because of spring break and MCA testing.  I decided to begin anew today, and this was a treat.  We reviewed the norms, fired up our brains and got to work on 250 x 28.  When I asked for students to volunteer their answer, I got 4 incorrect answers along with the correct answer.  Second period, much to my delight, they contributed four different incorrect answers as well as the correct one.  Students who are hesitant to share were willing to explain their strategies to the class.  With their permission, I’ve included their names with their strategies:

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These 9th graders are doing a spectacular job of working together in cooperative groups as well.  When I give them something to discuss with respect to probability and statistics, they really challenge one another respectfully and support one another appropriately.  This doesn’t necessarily happen naturally but is instead developed through consistent expectations of shared group responsibilities.  Overall, it’s a tough time of year to be a high school student with summer looming.  I’m very proud of the progress my students have made thus far this trimester in making sense of all the data around them.