Monday, April 29, 2013

Geometry Daily

I love the images on this website. A new one is created daily and generously shared with the world. I would like to use these with students. The only prompt would be, simply, “What do you see?”

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Estimation Jars

Today I’m creating Estimation Jars for Math Night at John J. Flynn Elementary School. This is always a highlight at Math Night and it’s fun to watch kids at work on their estimate. I have one jar full of Rolos (there is something appealing about the gold wrapping), a smaller jar containing Skittles, and a very small jar with unpopped popcorn.

This year, I plan to accept all estimates within a reasonable range for each jar and then randomly draw a winner. That’s different than past Math Nights when the person who estimated the number closest to the actual number won the jar. I am hoping this helps promote a more correct understanding of estimation, with the goal being to produce a reasonable estimate, not to land on or closest to the exact number.

It is a good idea to have a few jars containing different sized objects so students can think about how the relative size of the objects affects the number that fit in a space. Ongoing math explorations can be done using estimation jars outside of an event like Math Night. Here is an excellent write-up and video about how classroom teachers can use estimation jars with their students, with a focus on the all-important concepts of doubling and halving.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

NCSM Denver - Brilliant Minds

Penny Stearns and I flew to Denver for the NCSM 2013 conference. NCSM is an organization focused on mathematics education leadership. They have resources on their website. The powerpoint presentations from the conference presenters aren’t posted yet but I hope they will be soon.

We’ve seen some incredible speakers over the last 3 days. These include the following:

Cathy Seeley
Marilyn Burns
Kati Haycock
Jo Boaler
Steve Leinwand
Cheryl Adeyami
Greg Tang
Deborah Ball
Heather Hill

These are folks you will want to look up. I will definitely get their entire presentations when they become available.

Steve Leinwand is my new hero. He yells, which I appreciate. Speak truth to power, Steve says. He talked about how he helped turn around a middle school in Missouri. His stories and learning from that process are fascinating. Steve keeps teachers and students at the center of his school reform work. At the end of his compelling talk, he showed a slide listing the names of the teachers at the Missouri school. He thanked them and dedicated the talk to them.

Steve shared 9 research affirmed practices for improving a school.
Number one is that effective teachers respond to most student answers with Why? How do you know that? or Can you explain your thinking?

Instruction is everything, says Steve.

Regarding the Standards of Mathematical Practice: Practice #3 is where it’s at. Those 9 words are the most important words in the entire Common Core standards. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Finally, Steve said we probably shouldn’t be talking about an achievement gap. This makes it sound like it is the students’ fault. We should instead be talking about an instruction gap. Wow.

I was going to write something about these other speakers as well, but I wrote so much about Steve that I think I will postpone. More to come.

Here is Steve today. I took this with my phone. Go Steve!