1. KeyNote Speaker Steven Strogatz “The Joy of X” : Strogatz was asked to write a column to “seduce people into liking math.” He connected his goal with ours in the classroom and said that the following 5 aspects must be present: 1. Humor (he shared the verizon .002 cents comercial) 2. Empathy (filling up the bathtub rate problems are confusing) 3. Aha! (The beauty of math lies in that moment; he shared the geometric proof of the area of a circle) 4. Relevance (medicine is a great way to show the relevance of math to life) 5. Visualization-He was really excited about a 2-hold torus, but really his last point was that you need to listen to non-math people and what interests them. I take that part to mean- Relationships.
2. Jo Boaler: Growth Mindset. In this session Boaler highlighted aspects of the math classroom that impact or are affected my the mindset students have. This mindset (in case you aren’t familiar) is that of “working hard OR being smart.” Mindset research shows that students who have the mentality that they have to work hard to learn something rather than “be naturally smart” are more successful and more motivated.
The two major concepts she discussed were math tasks and mistakes 1. Math tasks need to give students opportunities to learn not just demonstrate their learning, need to have multiple entry points, clear learning goals, and give feedback. 2. Mistakes in the classroom should be a classroom norm. Students brains grow when they make mistakes whereas they don’t when they get it right. Lastly, she reminded me of the study where a teacher wrote “I’m giving you this feedback because I believe in you“and those students did significantly better- MINDSET MATTERS. Check her class out on Stanford’s online courses.
3. Desmos is an amazing web-based program, to call it a graphing calculator wouldn’t do it justice. It is truly revolutionary. Students can sketch graphs electronically, model equations by plotting points (not just coordinates), verify their models, go through lessons, visualize changes in graphs with sliders. All I can say is that I wish I had known about it when I taught algebra and trig.
4. Dan Meyer: His talk centered around the idea of making math more like things kids like. Linking math to video games, Meyer asserted 1. Video games get to the point; it’s easy to see what the objective is. Is that true for a math lesson? 2. The real-world is over-rated. Just applying “real-world” contexts to math doesn’t make it more interesting. 3. Video games have an open middle where the gamer uses strategy/different methods to get to an end- part of the game is figuring out the strategy.
4. The middle of a video game grows more challenging AND more interesting. In math we sometimes make things more challenging by adding more problems or putting a time constraint… this is not really more interesting. 5. Instruction in video games is visual (not verbal), embedded in practice in little pieces as needed, where the end-goal is already known. Games rarely give away the strategy. 6. Video games downplay failure by making “redos” and mistakes a part of the game. People want to play more, they want to get better. Meyer extended this concept not only to instruction, but also to feedback and assessment.
5. 3 Act Math: Act 1- Show a visual, ask a question, make a prediction. Act 2- Gather information, SOLVE! Act 3- the big reveal (using the video or visual). The whole idea is that students ask the questions, gather information, decide how they want to solve it, discuss it, and are shown the answer in real-life which may or may not correspond to the theoretical solution they created. Two great people to find 3 Act Math Lesson materials from are: Dan Meyer and Andrew Stadel