During the fall season of conferences Annie, Max, and I took the opportunity to find out what types of questions folks would ask if prompted to **Ask the NCTM Community**. We set up a bulletin board in the NCTM Central Networking Lounge at the Regional conferences in Phoenix (October 26-28) and Philadelphia (October 31-November 2). We also asked visitors to our booth in the CMC-South Exhibit Hall in Palm Springs (November 4-5) to offer questions.

Before reading through the questions that we gathered, imagine what you might ask if given the chance to **Ask the NCTM Community**. Would it be a question about

- a particular math topic that you find difficult to present to students? Might you want an activity suggestion?
- your room environment?
- how to best assess student learning?
- where to find a particular journal article that you saw but can’t remember where it was?
- using technology as a tool to help students understand a particular concept?

*click image to view larger version*

*Regional Conferences Networking Lounge – bulletin board*

Below are the **specific questions** and even **some community responses** we gathered at the three conferences. Do you have a different question to post as a reply? On a related note, view T2T’s Facelift. Consider posting your question to the existing T2T service which is one of our starting points as we think about what will make a useful **Ask the NCTM Community** service.

**Regionals – Phoenix and Philadelphia
Bulletin Board Community Questions and Responses**

[Q] How do we convince our school not to use timed tests in math?

[R] Show them research about timed tests causing stress and negative attitudes/mindsets.

[Q] Coaches & Instructional Leaders: What baby steps do you take to encourage traditional teachers to move in the direction of more effective teaching practices?

[Q] How can teachers help move the needle in their district when traditionalism is so ingrained.

[R] I find that using HATTIE’S Visible Learning Research helps. It gives a resource-based starting point.

[R] We use the MQI rubric and a “describe then elevate” process. Come to booth #507 – I’d love to chat! Or: @MQ1claire on Twitter

[Q] What is an effective yet easily implementable way to unlock BYOD potential?

[Q] Does NCTM have a position on whether this is a trapezoid?

[Q] How do you make teaching logarithmic functions fun???

[Q] Any ideas on teaching proofs in Geometry??? Thanks.

[R] Teaching Geometry Proofs: When first starting proofs, I use “Puzzle Proofs”. I cut out the statement and reasons and mix them all up and then the students have to put them in the correct order. I’ve found this help them to see how things fit together and it’s more hands on than doing just fill-in-the-blank types.

[Q] Teachers/Curriculum People: If you’re using good tasks + listening to students, where do you get resources for what to do next

- For students who are struggling?
- When the whole class is struggling?
- When you uncover gaps?

[Q] I know I’ve seen a journal article on using algebra tiles – can you point me to it?

[Q] Admins: What resources help you “sell” Common Core to parents?

[R] See Common Core Math for Dummies by Christopher Danielson for some ideas?

[Q] Is there a crosswalk between CCSS and NCTM Standards?

[Q] I am trying to incorporate modern teaching techniques and activities but am somewhat afraid that these will take so much more time. Is this true? What about the pressure to cover so much material in the course of a year?

[R] Engaging students in sense-making using rich tasks does take more time than telling—but that time is an investment…an investment in building understanding & retention of conceptual knowledge vs. the unlikely recall of factoids.

[R] I agree. The initial time investment pays off w/ deeper understanding. Also once students get in the routine, they become more independent, questioning one another rather than waiting for you.

[Q] Argh! Proportions in 6^{th} grade. Activities please??

[R] Try prodigygame! You can assign topics in a “pokeman” style game that encourages learning.

[Q] How are you using Standards-based grading authentically?

[Q] Admins: What suggestions do you have to promote “Assessing as you go” instead of a bombarding of Diagnostics 5x per school year?

[Q] How do I encourage more coherence in our curriculum?

[Q] I’d love to use more problem solving with my 7^{th} graders but there just isn’t enough time. Do you have ideas to help me?

[Q] Who can suggest an engaging activity for a kick-off lesson about quadratic equations for my Algebra I students?

**CMC-South: Bulletin Board Community Questions and Responses**

[Q] How can I make factoring trinomials more applicable/interesting to students?

[Q] Will and when will NCTM create an “Open” research journal?

[Q] What are some good, interactive apps that would help students make sense of linear functions?

[Q] What does it mean for students to feel ownership of the classroom? How do I create that?

[Q] Which is better for creating student understanding? Individual work or group work?

[Q] What can I do to better integrate cell phones in the math classroom as a tool?

[Q] What can we do to create an “easy” way for teachers connect in forming a learning network?

[Q] How do we encourage more coherence in our curriculum?

[Q] Does NCTM have a position whether this is a trapezoid?

[Q] How can I register for the San Antonio Annual in person while I’m here at CMC-South? How can I volunteer at NCTM San Antonio? And do volunteers get discounted registration?

[Q] Student: How do I solve 2/5 + 9/10?

[R] Teacher: (give breakdown w/ more examples)

[Q] Comparing numbers (2, 3, 4 – digit) is tedious. It’s always about just place value understanding. Which is important…but BORING. What are some good contextual compelling problems that create the headache that comparing #s is the aspirin?

There seemed to be a lot of questions on the topic of traditional vs. student-centered mathematics. Our district is currently piloting curriculum and is having some deep conversations regarding what students are doing in math classrooms across our district. Instead of starting with curriculum, we started with research, specifically, NCTM’s Principles to Actions. Every pilot teacher received a copy of the book and we organized a book study around the 8 math teaching practices. This gave us a foundation for what we were looking for in mathematics curriculum and made our conversations about specific resources focused on research and pedagogy rather than on “bells and whistles” that certain textbook companies provide.

Our circumstances demanded an extensive look at research on math pedagogy, but Principles to Actions is an important text that math teachers, new and experienced, should consider reading deeply.

The questions seem to fall into a few overarching groups, two of which jump out at me: first, how to introduce topics or make them more engaging (geometric proof, quadratic equations, logarithms [BTW think zombie apocalypse a la Julie Reulbach https://ispeakmath.org/2015/11/07/creating-a-need-for-logarithms-with-zombies/, proportions), and second, how to effect larger scale change within a district or school (coherence in curriculum, moving away from timed testing, integrating cell phones as tools of mathematics, creating teacher learning networks, general progressive movement). I love the fact that these questions, which are continually asked, answered, and refined through the MTBoS – on Twitter and written about in blogs, are being asked again here. There is so much that is problematic in education these days, but the continual striving for better serving students gives me hope.

I love the idea of using Principles to Action as a departmental reading source – going to suggest that when we return in 2017! Thanks, Megan!

Agreed- j would love to get this in teachers’ hands and open the conversation. I need to work on my confidence in taking a stand and making that happen. Thanks for the idea/ reminder!

The math department at one of the middle schools in my district used Principles to Actions to help guide their conversations this year. It’s a game changer.

Ditto that. What a great idea for a great resource. It’s worth another re-read this break.

I’m wondering about the word “traditional” as it relates to math instruction. I wonder if it sets up a “traditional” vs “progressive” dynamic that creates a parallel “bad” vs “good” dichotomy.

I’m wondering if we might want to think of all math curriculum as having “content-centered” and “student-centered” teaching opportunities. There will always be tension as we navigate that dynamic. But I think it may help shift some language and thinking about this (huge and prevalent) tug-of-war that shapes our profession.

Standardized tests (and the administrators and policy makers that focus so myopically on them) pull us to be content-centered. Our own sense of humanity (we’re not creating machines in our classroom!!) and desire to stoke the flame of student inquiry and curiosity pulls us to be student-centered.

I’m not sure if this adds to the convo or not. And I hope I’m not sounding like I’m critiquing your word choice Megan. We all use it; I just now had this wondering.

I look forward to reading details about the research that lies behind Principles to Actions.

Hi Suzanne – How cool that you guys had bulletin boards set up to help crowdsource these questions (and, in some cases, replies!). I’m having trouble coming up with additional questions to add. The ones that ring really true to my current experience are the first three. I teach 4 grade levels and am the only math enthusiast on my campus. I want to shift teachers’ thinking so that when the kiddos get to me in 5th grade, I don’t have stereotypes and unenthusiastic attitudes to reverse! But, I’m in a very traditional school with very seasoned teachers. I know they respect my enthusiasm, but don’t know/ want to embrace it. I can’t speak as an authority on the k-4 grades and wouldn’t want them to take advice as criticism. Though my principal sees me as a leader, I’m in no official capacity to force, err…. share my ways. I’ve offered numerous times, but I think for the most part the other teachers still just see me as the “math nerd” and the exception, rather than the rule.

The only other question I can think of at the moment is, how would reaching out to the NCTM community be better than/ different than reaching out the the #mtbos on twitter? Can you clarify when I might look to each collective resource?

Casey,

I’m thinking that at this point you have a pretty clear idea about what reaching out to the #mtbos on Twitter is like. The unknown at this point is what is it like to reach out to the NCTM Community. I encourage you to post a question to Teacher2Teacher (T2T) to

1. see what the existing service is like – that is, the functionality.

2. see what response(s) you might receive.

Once you’ve tried it, it would be great to hear what you think. Is T2T a good starting point to use to launch an “Ask the NCTM Community” (or other name as Skip suggests we might find!) service? Or, are there features that are lacking that you think must be in place to have it useful.

I hope that helps!

~Suzanne

What an awesome opportunity for teachers/admin/coaches to collaborate and get ideas from other sources. I love the low tech/hands on method of gathering input too!

I’ve felt like I was the last person on earth to “discover” the incredible network of math educators on Twitter (#MTBoS, NCTM and The Global Math Department, etc.) but based on the questions in the post, it looks like many are still in need of that collaborative connection. Many of these questions and concerns would make great chat topics.

As far as what I need, I share many of the same concerns as Casey. I also know my students will find themselves in very traditional math classrooms in high school so I struggle with balancing my teaching own philosophy/methods and preparing them for that environment.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this leads to!

So true! My kids will go to 5 different hs – some traditional path, some integrated. I’ve never had the chance to visit them, but based on most feedback I get from kiddos- it will be a traditional style class for most if not all. This definitely needs to be part of my consideration, but unfortunately it’s something I often overlook. Thanks for the reminder!

I was in your position for a number of years; not easy.

I eventually came to the realization that if students received at least one year of student-centered classroom of math learning/instruction, that’s better than zero. If my class was that one student-centered class for those kids, I’m happy.

When students would return and say, “Mr. Stadel I miss the way you teach math.” I knew I was doing something right by those students.

Stay the course! Giving those students a student-centered experience is a gift.

A quick anecdote: I was on a Southwest flight yesterday and chatted with a guy next to me. 24 years old, in the Master program at UCLA to become a math teacher, African American from New Orleans, grew up poor, displaced to Houston by Katrina, first in his family to go to college (let alone get a Masters).

I asked why he wanted to be a (high school) math teacher. He said it was because of his 4th grade teacher and what he did. I asked more. He said: He made learning about us. He cared about each of us individually and he taught that way, especially with math. He didn’t just teach us how to do math. He encouraged us to think about math.

And here he is about to start a math education career.

And it took just ONE teacher to inspire him to be where he’s at.

Beautiful! Thanks both Chase and Andrew for those reminders <3

Loved reading this! Great reminder that we can ALL be that “One Teacher!” ~Thanks Chase :)

I have read through these “threads” and feel I can relate to the concerns that Casey has. My concern is at the high school level. The curriculum is jam packed; Teachers have “pacing guides” for each semester (suggesting how many days to spend on the material) and very traditional teachers. I get along with everyone, but it is difficult to break the mindset of limited time to “cover” material and need to “move on”

I really like Andrew’s response of:

“I eventually came to the realization that if students received at least one year of student-centered classroom of math learning/instruction, that’s better than zero. If my class was that one student-centered class for those kids”

(Thank you for that Andrew) Great message.

I love that we have the ability to network and work as a team for the good of all.

I am a high school teacher, and I take the concerns of teachers at lower grades seriously, but echo them toward what my students will face when they get to college. As Mary says, the high school curriculum is jam-packed. There can’t possibly be enough time to teach all that content AND teach in innovative, student-centered ways, can there?

Well, I think what Andrew said (echoed by the anecdote Chase relayed about his fellow Southwest passenger) about at least giving the student one student-centered experience. That is my goal (and in my small school covering five grade levels, I often will teach a student in two or more years). I also work with the other three teachers in my department to encourage and support them as they expand their pedagogical repertoires. In addition to Principles to Actions, we have looked at Smith&Stein’s “5 practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discourse,” Horn’s “Strength in Numbers,” and Lin&Small’s “More Good Questions,” as well as some of the materials that PCMI has used. To address Mary’s concern, I have to wonder, will a student in a “traditional” classroom, where perhaps more content is “covered,” learn more than a student in a student-centered classroom who may have been exposed to less content but learned more about process and practice? For some students, I’m sure the answer is no–there are some who thrive in lecture-only settings. But I suspect that is a (very?) small fraction of all students.

Our department recently underwent a review by three college professors–one from mathematics, two from math education. One of them was a bit concerned that student-centered teaching (and assessing, as we mostly use standards-based grading) might not prepare our students adequately for “more rigorous” college courses. Others, however, did not concur. And our alumni, who attend a wide variety of big- and not-so-big-named colleges, have not reported difficulty adapting to what they see in college. In fact, many colleges are actively trying to reform their teaching to be more student-centered, too.

This project is very intriguing! Thanks for stirring up important conversations about teaching and learning mathematics. One questions that I found particularly inviting was concerned with how to encourage coherence in the curriculum. I hear echoes of this concern from coast to coast of the US as well as outside of the US. The basis of any response to this concern always start with conceptual understanding of mathematics and such that it supports effective teaching of mathematics. Embedded in this of course is knowing progressions of mathematics and how mathematics concepts relate to each other when applicable. From the start of knowing the mathematics, other supports can be put in place, such as selecting good tasks, asking good questions, and supporting students in discourse around the mathematics they are learning. Taking aim at coherence is a worthy act, and I hope its something that happens every day in every mathematics classroom.

I am fascinated with the issue of taking the time to teach well. I was recently in a fourth grade classroom in Michigan where the teacher re-taught a lesson on multiplication of numbers involving multiples of 10 (3 x 6, 3 x 60, 3 x 600). On Monday, he used more traditional methods and the students struggled. On Tuesday, he repeated the lesson using manipulatives, skip counting charts, and excellent discourse. Voila!

He commented on the additional time it took to use conceptual methods. At the same time, he also noted his responsibility to send his students to fifth grade with these concepts in hand.

I also spent time in the corresponding fifth grade classroom, as I’ve been working with both teachers for some time. The fifth grade teacher explained that her students are generally more prepared these days because her (aforementioned) fourth grade colleague is TAKING THE TIME to teach in a thorough and meaningful way. Time.

Both of these teachers are actually bending the guidelines in their district. They are relying on supplemental resources that somewhat contradict the core curriculum product purchased by the district. And, perhaps more painfully, they both have decided to take the time to teach fewer topics more effectively. This leaves them vulnerable to having lower achievement in some of the less-essential mathematics topics that they choosing to neglect.

I am personally monitoring these two teachers and will report on their progress at my NCSM session in San Antonio this April.

Awesome…I will look up your session. I’m interested in following up as I’m in elementary as well.

Prior to my retirement from the classroom, I had the good fortune to work in a very collaborative department. We discussed many questions like those as part of our ordinary work. Alas, many teachers are not so fortunate, and have no one to talk to. For a few years, we had a group in the Bay Area and online, called Escape from the Textbook!, where we tried to talk about such questions, but that group is now defunct. Right now that niche seems to be filled by Twitter and the #MTBoS. It would be great to see NCTM move in the direction of providing that sort of day-to-day support. It would be consistent with Matt Larson’s statement that “NCTM is its members”, it would be a huge help in shifting the overall culture of our profession, and it would help young teachers see the value in being part of NCTM.

I love how you speak to the health of our overall culture of our profession. It’s an essential lens and one that often gets lost in the weeds.

I love this comment. Also, it led me to spend time on your page trying to dissect your Geogebra files.

Finding colleagues to talk with is perhaps the biggest challenge I see as I visit math teachers in different schools. Affluent suburban districts are able to create these communities. One I like in IL is the “Complex Instruction Consortium”. But I am working with a rural school now that has two part-time math teachers for the entire 6-12 math program. #MTBoS has the right idea. We have to plug in to the bigger networks like NCTM and it’s affiliates and online communities. But we also need local colleagues with whom we can share ideas and struggles.

Will there be a nifty hashtag, like #MTBoS has, that can fan out the questions to the NCTM masses? Can someone at NCTM please take a position on that trapezoid?

Trapezoid: a quadrilateral with ONLY one pair of parallel sides (exclusive definition) or At Least one pair of parallel sides (inclusive) making a parallelogram a special case of trapezoid – good for calculus users, tricky for elementary students. “not another special case, what is it with math?”

The case for inclusive definitions (parallellograms are special trapezoids, equilateral triangles are special isosceles triangles, squares are special rectangles, which are special paralleograms, etc.) is a strong one even before calculus. Suppose I have a quadrilateral with a pair of parallel sides of lengths a and b that are h units apart. With an inclusive definition I can say immediately I have a trapezoid and apply what I know about the area of a trapezoid. With the exclusive definition I would have to split into cases (its either a trapezoid or a parallelogram and in either case we see that the area ends up being (a+b)h/2). I want to use what I know about rectangles even when I don’t know the lengths of all of the sides. I want to use what I know about isosceles triangles without needing to know the length of the third side, etc.

Is it really the case that elementary students have difficulty with one category being a subcategory of another? If so, it seems worth learning, because it’s not just math. It’s life. A cousin is a special case of a relative. Pajamas are a special case of clothing. A teacher is a special case of an adult. A saxophone is a special case of an instrument. I’m confident elementary students can handle these special cases, so unless there is some other argument in favor of exclusive definitions I strongly advocate for inclusiveness in mathematics :)

i love this comment. much more articulate than mine above. and expands to elaborate why the inclusive definition is useful. Thanks for helping me learn!

To add to Laurel’s and Gabe’s responses, for fun I just went to:

Ask Dr. Math: http://mathforum.org/dr.math/

and I typed

trapezoidto Search the Archive

Here are three returns that I found interesting:

Inclusive Definitions: Trapezoids

http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/66565.html

Classification of Quadrilaterals

http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/71954.html

Uniquely Determining a Polygon

http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/51800.html

I love the idea of coming up with a hashtag. I’m thinking as we “test the tires” of T2T to figure out what works, what doesn’t work, what should we try to improve on the next iteration or really do we need to start from the bottom and work up — having a hashtag to go from Twitter to T2T and back could prove very helpful!

What do you think about using #ASKt2t – I searched for it on Twitter and someone used it last on July 13, 2013 which in Twitter time should mean that it’s now up for grabs. If not that one, is there another that’s more descriptive/meaningful for this?

Thanks!

#AskT2T sounds like a winner

Since attending the CMC-N conference at asilomar earlier this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I do or do not bring things I’ve learned at the conference (and/or other conferences) back to my classroom.

Often, the things I do bring back and actually implement are incremental changes.

My question is for presenters: if you are not currently teaching, do you consider implementation strategies and/or implementation roadblocks for teachers that might want to try something that you’ve shared?

If you are a presenter and currently teaching, how do you avoid sharing a reductive version of what you do in your classroom? This is something I’ve run into–I’ve presented at conferences and realize the most popular workshops I’ve done are the “you can use this on Monday” type presentations. While I think this is great to share best practices, I worry that I’m sharing an idealized version of my best practice. I don’t have time or choose not to get into all the messy details around implementation, structure, parameters of my school that affected my best practice (for better or worse) when I present. How does that affect the reality of replicating my best practice in a different context?

@rickbrlw

One suggestion: In sessions, give teachers structured prompts to reflect with each other about the things they need to consider (pro and con) as they implement what they are learning into the craft. Ask for them to share their thinking and strategies. And remind them that there are no quick fixes.

Rick,

I constantly feel the tension you talk about in your last paragraph and wish I had found an answer to it! In addition to the conference presentations, being a school-based specialist and leading K-5 grade level PLCs each week, I struggle to find the balance between content development and planning so teachers leave with something to do the next day. With the constant crunch of time, I completely understand a teacher’s desire to have something to use with students but also know that the activity may only last one class period, while the deeper learning has a more sustainable impact. And, like you mentioned, I am giving the activity based on MY experience with it when there are SO many factors involved.

This makes me wonder if NCTM has thought about doing any mini-courses or online communities for conference presenters? I wonder how finding this balance and sharing these ideas with our presenting community would impact the type of presentations we would experience at conferences?

-Kristin

I can’t speak for NCTM proper but I

canspeak for the ShadowCon organizers. Yes, we’ve thought about it. At the last two ShadowCon events, we saw that recording presentations and putting them on a platform where people can talk about them with each other created a nice lift in teacher engagement and learning. But it’s clearly insufficient. So without going into a lot of depth about our plans, just know that ShadowCon 3.0 will attempt to address those shortcomings. Stay tuned!Clarifying my remark that “I can’t speak for NCTM proper,” I don’t want to make any pronouncements on behalf of NCTM leadership. I don’t speak for them. But I should clarify that NCTM’s leadership has always supported our ShadowCon tinkering, and they’ve offered the same support for ShadowCon 3.0.

NCTM has been thinking about and experimenting with ways to both extend the conference experience and to support ongoing professional learning communities. Annie has been experimenting with the whole extend the meeting experience that others at NCTM started and I have been supporting team-based online efforts at Innov8 and elsewhere. Max is working on development of a classroom resources collaboration center. And you have a sense of what Suzanne is doing with Ask the NCTM Community. These three components overlap and should work to form a whole of professional learning community.

One tricky aspect is the context of who is NCTM. When Suzanne writes about the NCTM community, many folks assume she is talking about the NCTM staff, board, and other well-known leaders. I understand where that comes from historically, but we actually mean something different now, namely all of the folks who participate in, care about, and take an interest in ways of supporting the profession. The Math Forum team came from the classroom and we seek to support each other and a community for all of us, working together: teachers, administrators, researchers, parents, students, etc. To us this means that when we work on activities such as I mention above, this is about finding out what folks want to do and helping them do it, not blindly pursuing some project of our own. We want to help make real our collective aspirations and, as you can see from Suzanne’s work here, we want to figure this out together. As another example, we have been working with the ShawdowCon folks to see how NCTM can support the plans that Dan alludes to. The Math Forum at NCTM is keen to support member initiatives and to enlarge our collective sense of the ’NCTM community’. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with project ideas.

I am cracking up at the trapezoid questioner!

The main question I hear MTBoS and NCTM struggling with these days are the relationships among standardscurriculumroutinestasks. People have put a lot of energy into creating great resources, but without the overarching coherence of curriculum (with thoughtful pedagogy and quality formative assessment), people jump from resource to resource, activity to activity, task to task. Each individual activity may be great, but the pile of activities doesn’t hold together. So how might teachers incorporate these resources in thoughtful ways, and how do they relate to the larger story? I’d love for us to explore this topic more together.

LOL. I was thinking the same thing about the trapezoid. Someone went to both conferences and clearly means business (despite trying to slyly use two different colors).

I love this effort at engaging with the math community and look forward to NCTM chiming in on these and future topics.

I cracked up at that question too, so funny!

I agree Tracy, while I appreciate all of the amazing resources people in the #MTBoS create for open use, a strong coherent sequence is something I feel needs to be grounding a chose progression of these tasks/routines/activities. I would also love to continue this conversation a lot further!

-Kristin

I volunteer for AATM, the AZ affiliate of NCTM and I recently asked some new teachers what they needed and expected from their State Affiliate. Almost all of them said curriculum resources, but more important, a coherent curriculum that meets all state standards. Many new teachers are in schools where there is no budget for textbooks for math and they’re told “there’s enough out there for free”. Many new teachers do not have the time or experience to sift through every site and then build a coherent curriculum.

It would be nice if all these resources were available in a coherent, sequential curriculum.

https://emergentmath.com/

Geoff has created a scope and sequence for teachers who are interested in creating a coherent problem based curriculum. It doesn’t fill in gaps for enrichment and remediation in between the projects but it may serve as a “spine” to start with. It uses all of the amazing problems out there from #MTBoS and others.

Thank you for sharing all of these questions with the NCTM community! The first question I read asked, “How do we convince our school not to use timed tests in math?”

[RESPONSE] Show them research about timed tests causing stress and negative attitudes/mindsets.

I was hoping that we as a community could discuss this further. I am also required to give my students timed tests, and I find that it really causes a lot of anxiety for my students in an accelerated 7th grade math. My students who do well in this course, will go on to take Honors Algebra 1 next year in 8th grade. Timed tests become even more emphasized in that course. There seems to be a consensus within our district’s math department about these timed tests being essential, especially because class rank becomes very important when these students reach high school. The thinking is that if a student isn’t able to complete a test within the allotted time, then they don’t understand the material as well as a student who can successfully complete the test – accurately and on-time.

I would love to hear what the NCTM community has to say about this. I don’t like seeing my students stress out about the time constraints, however, I don’t know how to address the reasons that are given for our timed tests.

Anne, this one would be great to submit to T2T if/when you have a chance! Just go to:

http://mathforum.org/t2t/ask/

Thanks!

~Suzanne

Wow!

This is so rich. I don’t quite know where to begin. My rambling reactions.

1. I feel a little overwhelmed…because so much of what is expressed here has been the center of our professional struggle for decades. Will it be so forever? I worry it may.

2. That said, so much of what has been expressed is so essential to creating the type of thinkers and citizens we need in this world. So it is worth the struggle no matter how long it takes. We must continue to persevere.

3. Forgive me for the self-centered naval-gazing, but I think this struggle is what I was speaking to in my ignite talk. We have a conflict between our purpose and our practice because we value what we are measuring instead of measuring what we value. I think that student-centered teaching can’t happen without student-centered assessment. We need more opportunities for self-assessment, reflection, and student reported grades. If you missed my talk: vimeo.com/192685568

4. I think that developing a love for learning and a love for mathematics are primary and must be the focus. The slope leans down toward test scores and “getting right answers” and it takes constant effort not to roll that way when thinking about the design of and instructional choices in the lessons we create.

5. Showing people research doesn’t change always change behavior and mindsets. They’ve done studies about folks who think (erroneously) that the MMR vaccine causes autism and refuse to vaccinate their children. They explain/show the data and the research to the parents. Upon completion, they ask the parents questions. Parents end up becoming more knowledgeable about the science…and also LESS likely to vaccinate their children. It’s an example of our larger cognitive biases as humans. I think the conversations with admin and traditional content-centered teachers must start with thinking about our identity as teachers (why are we teachers? what passions propel us?) and by thinking about the students we want to create (at the end of a lesson, the school year, or 12th grade). There needs to be a WHY element established first before just showing the research. (Simon Sinek gives great talks about this.)

Getting more granular…

6a. There were a lot of questions about time…and the lack of it. What do we value most? Do more of that!!! Andrew Stadel’s ignite talk at NCTM 2016 speaks well to this point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKa1CstxA9g

6b. If you want an idea on how to deliver Andrew’s ideas in a PD, you can read my reflections of my PDs here: http://tinyurl.com/h9lb58w

7. QUESTION: Argh! Proportions in 6th grade. Activities please?? The 3-Act math lessons by Dan Meyer and Graham Fletcher are the best for these. They offer rich opportunities for discussion…and all students can play if you keep it at a low-floor at the beginning. Remember, it’s proportional REASONING that we’re going for, especially in 6th grade. They’ll have time to formalize procedures in 7th grade. Don’t rush it. If you want a specific example, check out this write-up of a Graham Fletcher lesson. http://undercovercalculus.com/proportional-reasoning-by-jumping-rope/

8. QUESTION: How do I encourage more coherence in our curriculum? One way is to shift our thinking about our identity as grade level teachers. For example, an 7th grade teacher doesn’t teach just 7th graders. They teach 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders…in terms of math ability. (That’s what your tests data says, doesn’t it?) As teachers, we need a greater awareness about how concepts progress through the grade levels. Principals can do a better job carving out PD time to allow teachers to plan vertically across grade levels around certain topics. Teachers need to think more about how to enter a task at all these levels. 3-Acts are amazing for this as are the other resources in the #MTBoS world.

9. QUESTION: What does it mean for students to feel ownership of the classroom? How do I create that? A great question and a rich one. A place to start: Give them more choices in the building of classroom culture at the beginning AND throughout the year. Let them set norms at the beginning of the year and revisit them from time to time. Revise if necessary. Have them reflect not just on their learning of math, but on their learning about being a community of learners. A harder place to start: Have them self assess and self grade. Remove yourself from (or at least de-emphasize) your role as the grade-giver because that makes them passive grade-getters. This question is more cultural than pedagogic, in my humble opinion.

10. QUESTION: Does NCTM have a position whether this is a trapezoid? It depends on your definition. There are two definitions that are equally acceptable mathematically. 1. A trapezoid is a quad with at least one pair of parallel sides. 2. A trapezoid is a quad with exactly one pair of parallel sides. Both are correct (at least according to the UCLA math professor I’ve written curriculum with). Most curriculums pick that latter definition and stick with it. I like the first definition because it’s more inclusive. Both definitions exist in math curriculum that has been adopted by California. I don’t know if the NCTM has a position on it, but the glossary in your textbook probably does. Maybe go with that?

11. QUESTION: Which is better for creating student understanding? Individual work or group work? All of the above. Use a variety. Consider letting students use their stronger preference when the material is challenging and encourage students to use their weaker preference for tasks with lower cognitive load. In the high school classroom, I often said “Work in groups of 1, 2, or 3 to tackle this task…” This allows for more ownership and student choice. I would then monitor and float the room and make recommendations about grouping based on their progress (or lack of it) for individual students/groups.

There is more to say, but I’ve taken up a lot of air time here. I hope it was useful and furthers the dialogue. Please question and critique. A lot of this is me thinking out loud.

Why should someone “Ask the NCTM Community”?

There’s a question.

The NCTM Community possesses vast amounts of experience and knowledge. The “Community” seems like a logical entity of which to ask a question. The tough part is to truly ask the community. It isn’t easy to get through.

The Math Forum has been working on this process for decades. Social media has broadened the possibilities. The community (or a chunk of the community) is now listening intently. So I say go ahead and ask.

Well put, Seth. Like a student in the classroom, why should I raise my hand and ask a question? Even if the community is listening, what are they listening for?

The MTBOS can be a big support for those with questions. T2T was probably there first. It might take more than a facelift to make it valuable. Like a book on the shelf, you have to open it to find it’s value.

I’m being very figurative here.

Community is very important. Thanks Suzanne for working to build a community, always.

Hi Laurel!

I love your idea,

Like a book on the shelf, you have to open it to find it’s value.What might it take to have/encourage folks to “open” T2T and let me know if there is value?

I’d love to hear more!

~Suzanne

Suzanne,

I have thought of 2 things that I would need to see before I would use T2T. I would need to know that it is active – could you show the last question asked and answered on the front page? And I would need to know what my responsibility would be – could you entice me with a question in need of answering? These would give me examples of questions teachers are asking, how they are being answered, by whom, and why.

Have you ever looked at Stack Overflow?

Thank you, Laurel.

With the functionality T2T has now the things you would like to know are one link away. So, for example, to view the last question asked that has been moved into “public” view can view seen here:

Teachers’ Lounge

http://mathforum.org/t2t/discuss/

Examples of types of questions that folks ask are on the Ask a Question page:

http://mathforum.org/t2t/ask/

or on the About page:

http://mathforum.org/t2t/about.taco

And, then most importantly, this page might give folks an idea of who is currently doing the “answering”:

http://mathforum.org/t2t/bios/

I understand that from an “inviting” viewpoint, none of this is on the first page a visitor would encounter:

http://mathforum.org/t2t/

and having more active, inviting “here’s a question that was just asked” visible right there could be comforting to a new visitor. On the other hand, we also want to respect the privacy of questioners who will only have a 1:1 exchange with one or more of the T2T Associates and so there is a balance to be weighed, too.

No, I’m not familiar with Stack Overflow but I just went to:

http://stackoverflow.com

I wonder how similar T2T questions are to the types of questions on this site.

~Suzanne

Hi Ladies

Thoughts about a section in the Mathematics Teacher for questions teachers might have … about curriculum, topics, engagement etc.? People could respond through NCTM and have answer published once each month in the journal?

I know some folks are still more “low tech” and might be more likely to look at the journal than jump online.

Ideas? How can we get folks to open that T2T book?

- Lois

Thanks for:

• providing this opportunity at the conferences

• taking the time to share and blog about it here

• asking the community to weigh in

Many of these questions resonate with me because I could see myself thinking some of these questions when attending math conferences, but not always having the confidence to write them somewhere publicly.

The biggest thing I appreciate about this “ask the community” environment is that it is a big shift from your typical math conference exhibit hall. I walk into any math exhibit hall and usually feel like vendors are just waiting to sell me their product, even if I’m not sure I need it. Asking the community shifts that mindset for me. To me it says, we’re in this together: there’s someone else out there who shares your question (even about trapezoids) or there’s someone out there who might be able to offer you advice or this could be the beginning of a wonderful collaboration between math teachers.

I’m curious if this wall was anonymous or if people could leave some type of contact info in case we wanted to reply to their question.

I agree with many comments that sense a “lack of collaboration” from the people leaving questions. If NCTM and the #MTBoS is to advocate for and nurture collaborative environments, then I would love the opportunity to email or tweet those people who had questions. For example, I think it would be the coolest if I received an email from someone saying, “I noticed your question on the board at [insert conference] and I can totally relate. I would love to chat about it, offering each other questions and input to help both of us think through your question.”

This is a great idea!

That is a great idea Andrew! I think it would a really great way to connect people across many different math communities.

Andrew, as you note this idea:

I immediately think of the T2T [http://mathforum.org/t2t/] area of the Math Forum because

1. submitted questions go into a private back office “queue”

2. the questioner has the option of marking “anonymous” or including their name but they are required to include an email address in order to receive a response

3. T2T Associates (currently Math Forum community members but this “pool” could be enlarged) are able to view and respond

4. once a T2T Associate responds, email is sent to the questioner

5. sometimes the T2T Administrator (me) moves the private conversations to a public area called the Teachers’ Lounge – public discussion is an option

When I compare T2T to using Twitter (#MTBoS) it seems that there are similarities and differences but they might complement each other?

If anyone would like to test out T2T, try this:

1. Go to http://mathforum.org/t2t/.

2. Click on Ask a question.

3. Follow the prompts.

In my district, we are working on transitioning to a Mastery-Based Learning (MBL) system (aka standards-based grading). We are wondering how to meaningfully assess and record data for the Standards for Mathematical Practice both in the moment and on report cards?

Our report cards will now only be officially reported 2 times per year (mid year and at the end) with student led conferences in fall and spring. So we are trying to figure out how to embed and integrate SMPs into the process.

Hi Crystal,

We moved to Standards Based Grading a few years ago. Our reporting standards include “Concepts and Procedures” which encompass the content standards and we incorporate the SMPs through 3 reporting standards that are the same in grades K-8:

STRATEGIC THINKING

Understand and make sense of a problem situation by applying appropriate strategies and/or tools. (MP1)(MP2)(MP5)

COMMUNICATING REASONING

Clearly communicate mathematical thinking with evidence and critique the reasoning of others. (MP3)

PROBLEM SOLVING AND REASONING

Transfer and apply mathematical knowledge to solve real-world problems and determine if a solution is reasonable. (MP4)

Each of these has 4 levels of perfomance descriptors.

Opportunities for students to demonstrate proficiency in these standards are included in Summative Unit assessments as well as MARS tasks, math talks and other classroom activities.

I am fan of “questioning” – and I love this casual and welcoming bulletin board approach. It make me wonder how this might look in my own building/district. As a content specialist and instructional coach I am also intrigued by ways to encourage students and colleagues to be curious. So my question to the NCTM community might be how do we learn for ourselves and teach our students to ask better questions? Perhaps first step is to define what is a better question?

Two questions stood out to me.

First, what to do when you have used a rich task, led a student-centered lesson, and realize that students are not ready to move on to a new topic. In addressing this issue in my own classroom, I found the work of David Foster and the Silicon Valley Math Initiative to be pivotal in my thinking. Rather than re-teaching, Foster advocates an approach known as re-engaging. It uses what has been learned from an assessment to build deeper understanding among all students-those who have done well & those who struggled. You can see more about this work with re-engaging lessons at insidemathematics.org under the classroom videos tab. The examples given range from 1st through 5th grade, but the principles apply to any grade. These principles are well explained in the extensive videos that showcase their use in classrooms and include discussions between coaches and teachers.

The second question that caught my attention was about coherence in the curriculum. The CCSS-M were written with a specific goal of increased coherence and approached with fidelity; that has largely been achieved through grade 8. On a finer grain, coherence can also be enhanced through greater adherence to a quality textbook. Teachers are often led to believe that it is incumbent upon them to craft or source their own lessons, one at a time. While any one lesson may be of great quality, without consistent notation and approaches to representation, along with a well articulated learning trajectory, deeply connected conceptual understanding will not be achievable, and gaps will inevitably arise.

What resonates with me is the deep seeded desire for these teachers to want an Engaging curriculum and to teach their students in an Interactive way. Engagement and Interactivity are much more than the curriculum. Given the same Interactive curriculum, some teachers classrooms implement it faithfully, while others keep students in rows and don’t develop the Engaging environment necessary for the curriculum and learning. Having great worksheets, or a dynamic text, or cool interactive technology demonstrations are not enough. Knowing how and when to use them is the key. We all have access to these tools, but very few of us have the guts to try them out and are ready with Plan B or Plan C if they don’t meet our expectations.

Being an Engaging and Interactive teacher needs to be part of the teacher’s personality…for those of us who aren’t naturally that way, then a school community of support helps those people build new habits, and rewire them self to be able to meet the needs of their students’ learning.

Suzanne – I think this is such a wonderful idea! People always ask me, “Why twitter for professional learning?” and my initial response is that it has made conferences, NCTM in particular, like a family reunion for me. I get to see all of these amazing people at least once a year…people who I respect and learn from all year long. I am comforted knowing that I can attend a conference alone and know I will have people to talk to, discuss sessions with, hang with, eat dinner with…etc.

I think if we could take this idea of the NCTM community and use it to connect people across our huge math community, on Twitter or not, it would be amazing. I love Andrew’s idea above of adding email addresses and people responding personally to one another! How cool would it be to get an email from some at NCTM or from one of the presenters I went to see?!

Great work!

-k

In an email exchange, Kristin just asked me if I had seen the Teaching Channel’s Q&A section:

http://www.teachingchannel.org/questions

What pros/cons do you notice? How is it similar/different from Ask Dr. Math and/or Teacher2Teacher (T2T)?

This is a great start to improving conversation in and amongst math educators. While we have the #mtbos, too often it is difficult to bring most educators into that conversation because of the muck that Twitter is full of. How can we create a manageable, safe and constructive online conversation space for all educators? Spaces that allow for an individual math educator to be anonymous (they often feel vulnerable when asking practice-oriented questions) but not prone to lapse into bullying once those with strong opinions begin to “help”. (I would mention that the string of comments above is an excellent exemplar – but too static for most educators nowadays.)

As I read through the questions and the ensuing dialogue, I am struck by how the Ask the NCTM Community work facilitated by Suzanne, Annie, and Max is consistent with vision of a Networked Improvement Community (NICs) championed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Carnegie, like NCTM as well as colleagues in the health sciences where improvement science work began, truly values the “wisdom of practice” and articulates their ideas at https://www.carnegiefoundation.org/our-ideas/ including the Six Core Principles of Improvement.

This also relates to the CMC-South Bulletin Board question: “Will and when will NCTM create an ‘Open’ research journal?”

Using the principles of improvement science and consciously addressing the core principles, the community involved in these discussions, including #MTBoS, has all the making of BEING the “open” research journal suggested in the question.

Core Principles 4 (“we cannot improve at scale what we cannot measure”) and 5 (anchor practice improvement in disciplined inquiry), I think, need more attention so that the different improvement cycles being tested by the teachers and discussed in this community can truly impact the teaching and learning of mathematics in a manner that allows us to learn from each and improve mathematics teaching.

We certainly continue to need and value highly regarded peer-reviewed journals such as JRME, but there is also room for impactful research that can and should be conducted and shared among practitioners.

Suzanne –

I always love your posts – they really get me thinking! I definitely loved the idea of the question board at the NCTM conferences. I’m so impressed by the questions asked as well and I definitely see some of the patterns mentioned here.

The bigger theme to me though is that teachers really want to ask questions and solicit the advice of their peers. I originally came to Twitter somewhat out of curiosity. What I found was great collaboration. Everyone was very welcoming and I was never made to feel like the question I might be asking wasn’t important. It really helped rejuvenate my classroom and, just like your posts, made me think.

My question to the NCTM community is, how do we encourage other teachers to jump on the bandwagon? To engage with all of us? To reach out and feel comfortable asking those questions? How can we create the “bulletin board” that reaches a larger group? Maybe the new T2T is ready for this? Your bulletin board definitely served as the low floor, high ceiling activity for that! How can we move that forward?

I don’t have the answer necessarily but I am a cheerleader for this. Collaboration moves so many things forward. Let’s leverage it to the benefit of our kids!

PS – I’d love to know more about the trapezoid!!

Ask the NCTM Community is an interesting and potentially inclusive and engaging professional learning opportunity. I think that NCTM must be THE 24/7 provider of professional learning in mathematics (showing bias early in this very long response). As THE provider NCTM can (and should) continually connect ALL of its offerings (journals, conferences, publications) to ASK (new name). ASK then provides the 24/7 opportunity and resource to address (at any time all day) the following (what’s below are just some ideas ASK could provide):

Mathematics – Tell me about (quick information on a topic – like “what’s a trapezoid anyway? or Why are there multiple definitions of trapezoids?; A regularly updated math glossary, with appropriate representations; Quick tutorials on a topic (proportion) linking such tutorials to how they are dealt with curriculum-wise (full grade range so readers get the coherence and focus of such topics)

Research – from action research ideas, to allowing respondents to identify research needs, to a “help me – where can I find research about” link;

Curriculum – information by mathematics topic; an opportunity to ask things like – hey, what works with this topic (for you) – (e.g. linking operations with decimals to fractions);

Open “hot line” kinds of tabs like the following (sort of like help me now…:

Help, looking for ideas on…

Have you ever tried…?

Hey, this worked! (paying it forward opportunities)

Tool time – an opportunity for the site to present successful use of particular tools and representations – from manips to number lines to online tools; perhaps vetting their use;

NOTE: in all cases ASK could/should connect (as appropriate) to particular links on the NCTM website, NCTM journal articles, publications, featured sessions from conferences, handouts from conferences, AND should also forecast/invite onsite and online participants at upcoming conferences. ASK could do this, but it would need to enlarge its “audience” beyond #MTBOS “regulars” to include teachers at every level. I would want those who Google their math questions and search for ideas and validation to use ASK.

I’m out. Happy New Year!

I wonder if

ASKmight be the name to use? I wonder what each of the letters might represent. Immediately to my mind are “Ask” “Service” “Knowledge” but maybe there are other ways to think about it?Happy New Year to you, Skip!

Hi Math Forum and NCTM,

I am appreciative of the open forum for asking questions of the NCTM community and pleased to see so many people engaging with the open call. I hope that such dialogue can lead to productive actions for change.

I am also struck by the nature of the questions. I’m afraid that we are tinkering around the edges of (or perhaps not acknowledging) deep problems. Mathematics education must be interrogated for it’s role in the stratification of society and the gross mistreatment of “the Collective Black” (Danny Martin, 2015).

I’d like to use this space to raise (again) the question Danny Martin raised over a year ago:

“Can truly help improve the collective conditions – not isolated examples of success – of African American, Latin@, indigenous, and poor students? By success, I do not mean slow an incremental gains.”

As you may know, his full essay is available here: http://ed-osprey.gsu.edu/ojs/index.php/JUME/article/view/270/169

I will also echo Joy Spencer when she asks, “where is the moral outrage” among (mathematics) educators? I am disheartened that we seem content to tinker at the edges of instructional practice without seriously attending to the moral failures of our system, of which we are a part. What is blinding us to these conditions?

I know these are difficult issues. But we must continue to keep them central. Thank you again for providing the space.

- Bryan

I think a great first step to addressing the problems that you raise is the Call for Collective Action to Develop Awareness. This is a collaboration of many organizations (NCTM, NCSM, JUME, BBA, TODOS, CMC-South, AMTE, JUME, WME, NASGEm) to spend the year reading a variety of articles and books to raise awareness and better educate ourselves. More information, with links to the monthly readings, is available at http://www.nctm.org/uploadedFiles/News_and_Calendar/Messages_from_the_President/Archive/Matt_Larson/CollectiveAction-EquityAndSocialJusticeInMathEducation_09_01_2016.pdf.

This certainly shouldn’t be the only thing the math education community does to address the problems, but it’s a great start in my opinion.

First off – thanks to the Math Forum and NCTM for putting this opportunity out there and sharing it in this way.

But, what a read! This post and the enormous amount of comments reads like “state of mathematics education” in late 2016 update. So many things to say and respond to that it’s almost impossible to start.

So for now – I’ll go here. Cuz this question stuck out to me and I think is a really strong one.

[Q] What does it mean for students to feel ownership of the classroom? How do I create that?

In my opinion, it begins with us getting the heck out of the way. Spending less time at the Board and becoming more a part of the community. Letting our students do the talking, sharing, and listening. One way to do all of that is to leverage the great work begin done with 3 act tasks, WODB, notice/wonder, estimation 180, number strings, open middle, etc. Basically, posing questions to the class that you don’t know the answer to. It forces us to become a member and not just the leader of the classroom.

-Zak

What a great outpouring of responses to the blog post! This makes me very excited to see what the future holds- it’s amazing how many people have chimed in as part of the NCTM community.

Thoughts on the “trapezoid issue”- wouldn’t it be great if all mathematicians could agree on the same definitions? Think of how much that would benefit each and every one of our students. I think it’s crucial to at least agree building and district wide. This came to my attention recently when working on the standard form of linear equations with my 8th graders. The definition I used was different than the one that someone looked up online at home when trying to get some extra help- which was still different than the one our high school algebra book uses! Does a have to be positive? Do a, b, and c have to be integers? …. I think these issues really raise the issue of vertical alignment.

I agree with Skip’s desire for the NCTM community to be the leading provider of professional learning. The goal for each and every one of us should be to help expand this community so that more can benefit from the collective wisdom and continue to hear from many!

Thanks to Suzanne and the others at the Math Forum at NCTM for starting this venture. I’m very excited to see the future of this service!

These are interesting questions. I feel like theres lots buried beneath the surface of a discussion about formal definitions of trapezoids, standard form, etc. But what I’ve come to think about is that it’s not really about a trapezoid at all. What are we really asking for?

Many of us appreciate, at least in part, the procedural and highly defined aspects of our discipline. Generalizing patterns to find rules, and then applying those rules to successfully expedite the process has a deeply satisfying nature for many mathematicians. So when those rules become murky, or appear to not have the same clarity we thought they did, we’re struck by other emotions. Frustration, defeat, anxiety, disappointment. There’s confidence to be had in things that are simple and reproducible, which is partially while these are hallmarks of strong scientific studies.

We can find spaces in which to study things that do follow strict rules, and we can create as refined a system of constraints as we’d like to develop those rules within, but even then there are very often caveats. (For example, x to the power of negative-y is equivalent to 1-divided by x to the power of y, as long as x isn’t zero).

But to tell students that these constrained and contrite ways of doing math is the extent of our discipline is, I think, to greatly undersell both mathematics and our students.

There’s a promise of safety and comfort in a set of predictable and obedient systems and rules, which is something that we can all appreciate. But life often happens outside of those bounds. It’s messy. And mathematics needs to reflect that at times as well.

I agree with many of what the others in the community noticed in terms of common “buckets” of requests/questions. It seems like a number of concerns can fall into the “content” bucket, specifically asking questions about mathematics. Perhaps someone is new to a course and needs help wrestling with a definition or understanding how one mathematical notion is related to another. Another bucket seems to be “curriculum”. This seems more nuanced than just a focus on content. In particular, teachers are interested in not only what other districts are utilizing, but to what capacity this curriculum is being used and also how it is being adapted. Yet another bucket seems to be “professional development/networking” as many districts and schools have different levels of PD access. Some teachers go beyond their immediate district and find opportunities like math teacher circles in which to engage. A final bucket seems to be “advocacy” which might comprise teacher accountability and state testing. A lot of other items however seem to be out there, such as use of technology, assessment, questioning strategies, etc. I think P2A is a great place to start for districts to start moving the dial, but it ultimately comes down to one’s beliefs.

Read through all of these and I probably looked like a bobble head nodding “yes!”

I only recently stepped out of the classroom (PK-2) to go to grad school; trying to figure out why a subset of students struggle greatly with math (i.e. math disability or dyscalculia). But I can tell you this, social media, in whatever format, can and does have a huge impact on disseminating great ideas and deep thinking. I always had to take personal days and pay my own way for any professional development not delivered by the district. Usually I chose early childhood conferences…because…hello…PK-2! It took me a few years to realize, HEY! I am a math teacher!!! I’m not sure that early childhood teachers see themselves as “math” teachers; and to be honest, I’m not sure secondary math teachers see primary teachers as math teacher either. For sure many pre-service teaching programs don’t delve deep into pedagogy of teaching math at the primary level. So, spaces like this are critical for those teachers who are starving, and frustrated, and confused, and…

I, too, would love for NCTM to be THE central collection point; with many organizations in collaboration. We have too many silos! Disseminating knowledge and resources for the sole purpose of educating children should not be a competition! Of course there will need to be “safe guards” to ensure equitable access and nonbiased representation; and moderating to prevent unhealthy group think, or just plain mean-spirited attacks. But, I don’t really worry about those being issues not considered.

I want every teacher, every administrator and policy maker to see/feel what the teacher I drug along with me to CMC-N said/felt: “I’ve never seen so many people excited about teaching math. Everyone was here because they wanted to be here and wanted to learn. It was so encouraging and gave me hope. Especially to see so many women.” Yup! We’re not alone.

But…enough of the kudos. This. This is where I think we need a huge amount of support and a larger voice: “echo Joy Spencer when she asks, “where is the moral outrage” among (mathematics) educators? I am disheartened that we seem content to tinker at the edges of instructional practice without seriously attending to the moral failures of our system, of which we are a part. What is blinding us to these conditions?”

It is a moral outrage that so many of our students leave 2nd grade with very little sense of number; for many that gap only continues to increase. We move ‘em up and out…and it is disgusting and immoral. It’s the students of color, second language, poverty, and undiagnosed learning disabilities. It’s systemic! I’d lay good money on the bet that everyone reading knows you have at least a few of these students in your class right now and that you simply don’t know how to fill those gaps or get the support they need. We HAVE to figure this out! I believe we can and will–together!