Monday, May 9, 2016

WMC Conference 2016 Reflections

Attended the Wisconsin Math Council (WMC) conference in Green Lake Wisconsin again this year, and another great conference.  A Gathering of a slew of dedicated math instructors from Kindergarden to College.  Peers presenting, keynotes presenting - just a lot of math discussions and thoughts.

For me personally it is a tremendous reflection time and I picked up some great ideas to use and share on ratios from Gail Burrill from Michigan State and division of fractions writing in a context from Natalia Bailey from Edgewood college/UW.   There was an intriguing session on standards base grading by Jeff Harding (even if he is from Illinois).  And UW-River Falls showed tidbits and I found some activities that will help my students with reasoning and justification.  All things that will make me a better teacher, all things that I would not have located on my own (most likely).  Things that make the conference very worth while - yet that is not the biggest return on my time at the conference (or my school district’s money).

There are 2 things I always find are huge at the conference for me professionally - 1) is presenting on my classroom (that is always scary - presenting in front of peers);  and 2) the reflections, peer discussions and time to think deeply about my practices.

I presented on recursive review and improvement that has resulted in our school’s ACT data - and that is always good for me.  It makes me think about the blend of necessary skills that my students need to be successful in math - while really reflecting on how to make sure my room is being driven from conceptual understanding with many opportunities for practice in problem solving and persistence (problem solving with many answers requiring justification).

The single most important thing that makes me go again and again is how the time, enviroment and presenters make me really think about my practices and how I approach the classroom.  What my goal for my teaching is, what my students will do - what I really need to lead them through so they are successful beyond my high school’s walls.  

And my number one take away is…..   


Picking one can always be something that gets a lot of “attention,” but this would be my number one - I am sure everyone’s is not the same. So a bit of a disclaimer: knowing how we teach is super important - that we are leading students to understanding, not memorization but from memory, that we would not worry about just the test but most importantly how they problem solve and analyze for their times beyond education institutions (and yet make sure they have the skills not to be unsuccessful in post-HS mathematics - meaning that the ACT and placement tests matter).  So with all that said, for me, the number one take away this year is:

Minutes matter.

I will modifiy many lessons because of this conference, and add things here and there.  But for me the number one thing is treating my 44 minutes period like the precious commodity it is.  That from bell to bell we are doing math - solving problems, mixing in review.  That the students are pushed and are working a combination of problems that review and stretch.  

It is so important that I am commiting to myself and 12 of you that read this blog that I am going to submit a presentation about it next year for the WMC (including some of more non typical things - like no HW grading or HW questions is class)   (Side-note: my wife does not believe there is 12 of you)

So there it all is - a great conference - already cannot wait for next year.  And I will do my best to make every minute count......