Day One Is In the Books!

July 12, 2013

Hey everyone! Even though it’s my second day in New Orleans, today was the first actual day of the Connecting Number and Operations Interactive Institute.

Ok. First things first! We got goodies from ETA…check it out!

When I gleefully told my husband about my bag of swag, he sighed. Audibly. I made sure he’s aware that I’m NOT a complete dork. (BUT I maybe kind of am?)

Anyway. We also got a badge, a binder and some catalogs. Once we were all checked in, it was time for the opening session…a keynote speech from the NCTM President, Linda Gojak.

I didn’t take her picture because I thought she might think I was stalking her….creepy.

Some Ideas from the Presentation:
Her talk focused on number concepts and number sense. It was awesome!  It really got me thinking about what number sense ACTUALLY means…here were some of the ideas of people at my table (including me) and some from Linda’s presentation.

Students with number sense:

  • can reason with numbers
  • can manipulate numbers
  • are flexible in their numerical thinking
  • spot unreasonable answers
  • can estimate reasonably
  • use numbers to solve problems
  • understand how numbers can be taken apart and put back together
  • see connections among operations
  • compute mentally

I was intrigued with the last one, because that hadn’t really occurred to me. Luckily, she clarified a bit.

Computing mentally doesn’t mean “do it fast and get the right answer in your head.” It just means having an effective strategy for working with numbers in your head. I always like to remind my students that fast doesn’t always equal best, especially when it comes to math and your mathematical thinking.

Linda also discussed CCSSM and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. I have A LOT to say about these, so I think I will save it for another post. 🙂

The second presentation was given by Anne Collins from Lesley University and focused on formative assessment.

This is about 1/4 of the room – see how I used fractions there?? 

Some Ideas from the Presentation:
Anne defined what formative assessment truly is:

  • Assessment for Learning
    • ongoing
    • one piece of comprehensive assessment
    • done in real time
    • immediate feedback  

I liked the idea of calling it “assessment for learning” instead. It makes more sense that way. She kept saying, “Just because I taught it, doesn’t mean they learned it,” and using formative assessment more effectively will help me know that they have learned it!

I think one of the best strategies she presented for formative assessment focused on asking questions of students. This has been something I have been working on for a long time, but I feel like I can always use a refresher and some new ideas to help move me forward.

One of the things that I think is difficult about math instruction is the fact that we have so little time to teach it. It seems like as soon as we get started, 45-60 minutes have flashed by and we have barely scratched the mathematical surface. So…if you are like me…we want to jump in and get the kids on the right track so that we can “get through” the material.

What Anne reminded me of today, though, is that when I do that I am doing a huge disservice to my kids. Instead of jumping in, or letting other kids jump in, I need to use carefully chosen questions to move their thinking forward. She had some great ideas:

  • How did you arrive at your answer?
  • Can you find another way to solve that?
  • How did you know to try that strategy?
  • Does that always work?
  • Can you find another way to explain that?
  • Why do you think that?

There were more, but I’m getting pretty long-winded here. Suffice it to say, I REALLY want to make sure I am using questioning techniques to their full potential to help my students move forward in their math thinking. 

Favorite Quote from the Day:
My favorite quote from today has to do with student solution strategies. If you know me, then you know I sometimes have a huge problem with the word “algorithm,” and not just because it’s hard to spell. I like kids to figure things out for themselves and work out their own strategies. Linda addressed that today and it was my favorite quote:

“They find the one {strategy} that works for them.” – Linda Gojak, NCTM President

Nothing like the feeling of someone validating your thinking! 🙂

So many other amazing things running through my mind right now, but I’m going to stop. For your sake, blogging friends! Good night from New Orleans!

Bourbon Street!

PS While I’m in New Orleans, I would really like to say “y’all.” I love that. Nobody (pretty much) says “y’all” in Colorado. But I sound weird saying it. So I’ll keep thinking about it….

What are some strategies you use for formative assessment? Leave me your ideas in the comments!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Megan @ I Teach. What's Your Super Power? July 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Love that you're at that conference. I loved teaching math when I was self contained. Miss it so much! Embrace y'all while you're there! Don't feel weird. It'll only be weird if you don't say it!


    I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

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