Regional Reflection – Releasing my Grip

As humans, our complex brains are able to create such detailed visions of the future.  We build things up (or down) in our minds that reality can’t possibly compete with.  Until we let go of what we believe should happen, we are unable to fully experience the beauty of what actually is.

Proposals for the NCTM Regional Conference here in Minneapolis were due in September of 2014.  This means I have had over a year to continue to wind the anxiety yarn into one giant ball of stress.  But sweet relief occurred when I released my iron grip on my expectations and began to appreciate the phenomenal power of educators coming together.

First off, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, NCTM, for  your support of the MathTwitterBlogosphere at the NCTM conferences. I spent much of my time at the #MTBOS booth in the exhibit hall.  Sharing this wonderful, supportive, organic community with other math educators has been as fulfilling as it has been fun.

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East Coast meets Minnesota Nice

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You guys have something called the “Trap Team?”

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Woman: You didn’t say there would be math. Christopher: Actually, I said there would be nothing BUT math.

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When Nicole Bridge gets fired up, the magic happens.

When asking people in the Exhibit Hall “are you on Twitter?” the most common response was “yes, but I don’t tweet.  Think of the student in your class that thinks very deeply, submits very thoughtful work,but doesn’t raise his/her hand in class to volunteer his/her thinking.  I’d hope that most teachers would agree that these students are still valuable members of the classroom community.  It works the same with the online edu-community.  Plus, I’d venture to guess that many people who actively tweet with other math educators started by diving down the rabbit hole of math blogs.

Max Ray-Riek led a panel where we discussed this problem and blog post of mine.  Next week we venture into rational functions in college algebra and I anticipate good times to be had once again.

An hour later, Carl Oliver and I spoke on statistics, social justice, and how to have safe, productive conversations with students around the issue of race and equity. Here is the link to the slides.  The discussion centered around these data sets:

Using Local Data to Teach Statistics

Using Local Data to Teach Statistics (1)

I really enjoyed giving our presentation and a lot of great discussion ensued.  But ultimately, I’m thankful to the MathTwitterBlogosphere for being the catalyst of the great discussion we get to take part in, day in and day out.  I had never met Carl Oliver in person before Wednesday.  But the powerful connections we (all of us) have made with one another, make it possible for an algebra teacher in New York and a stats teacher in Minnesota to get together and share their passions with fellow educators. It allowed a teacher in Massachusetts to spread the fire she started in Boston on to Atlantic City, Minneapolis, and Nashville.  And that fire is continually kindled as we welcome, share, engage, and support over and over and over again.  Thank you, #MTBoS for being the genuine, authentic community that has naturally produced so much awesome for so many teachers.

Correlation Investigation

A benefit of having advanced students for probability and statistics is that there is often a level of curiosity in the room that can drive an entire class period of discussion. Sometimes.
We were about to start a unit on linear modeling and correlation, and I decided to start with giving them the data and the best-fit line and then having them determine the correlation coefficient based on some examples. We used a data table of 21 common cereals, all with calories, sugar, fat, and carbs per 1 cup portion.
The students first were given time to notice and wonder and I had them determine what two columns of data were most closely correlated and least related. We came up with a list for both and then we started number crunching.
The NCTM website has a nice set of core math tools . The Java-based app lets you put in data and then will have students “guess” the correlation coefficient from a list of 4 choices. Some kids made conjectures about how correlation coefficients were calculated. Others refuted these with counter examples. It was a beautiful discussion. In the process, we compiled the correlation coefficient for all of the data sets and this answering our other question about which sets were most and least related.
Finally, I set them off on the map shell lesson about devising a method for measuring correlation. This was just the intro to this lesson. The real fun started the next day…