The Math Forum

National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM)
43nd Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN, April 11-13, 2011

"On Track for Student Success:
Mathematics Leaders Making a Difference"

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NCSM Booth 512 || NCTM 2011 Presentations || NCTM Booth 1243


Mastering the Common Core: We have the Practices. Visit us at Booth 512 in the Sponsor Partners Display Area. Fill out a survey to help us provide better professional development and services for you and your teachers and be entered into a drawing to win an iPad®.

Special for NCSM attendees: Enter our raffle for Math Forum Prize Packs. Talk to us about an opportunity to apply for free Problems of the Week Memberships with a minimum number of paid registrations in our online professional development course designed to help teachers make the most of the membership.

Click on the day/time to view details about that session:

Monday 9:30 - 10:30
Moving Your Faculty Towards Diagnostic Teaching, Formative Assessment, and Individualized Instructional Techniques
Tuesday 10:00 - 11:00
Using Screen-Capture Movies to Assess Quadrilateral Constructions in Sketchpad
Wednesday 11:15 - 12:15
Developing Leadership in Our Mathematics Community: An Effective Model to Identify and Support Teacher Leaders

Moving Your Faculty Towards Diagnostic Teaching, Formative Assessment, and Individualized Instructional Techniques

NCSM: Session 108
Steve [Riz] Risberg
Annie Fetter

Monday, April 11, 2011
9:30 - 10:30
Marriott Downtown: Marriott Ballroom 1


Steve [Riz]

Description: Many second-career teachers are teaching before they are certified, relying on instructional techniques with which they were taught. Learn about the strategies that the Math Forum uses to help move teachers, both novice and experienced, towards more effective instructional methods including diagnostic teaching and formative assessment through evaluating student work.

Detailed Description:
Many second-career teachers are in the classroom before they are certified, too often relying on the same instructional methods with which they were taught years before. As part of Drexel's Transition to Teaching program, which serves middle and high school math and science teachers, the Math Forum introduces teachers to the ideas of using diagnostic teaching and formative assessments to promote individualized and effective instruction.

Based on problem-solving and mathematical writing, our unit of the Transition program emphasizes valuing student work and recognizing that even incorrect solutions offer insight into a student's mathematical strengths and weaknesses. Teachers learn the importance of keeping an open mind to alternative solution paths and of trying to understand a student's thinking as they pursue a solution.

By discussing problems and assignments collectively, teachers learn the value of group work and of asking good questions to promote full understanding of others' ideas. The opportunity to revise and improve their work exposes them to another valuable and often neglected opportunity for learning. These techniques are easily transferred into their own classrooms.

In this session, participants will explore some portions of the unit, including solving a problem and then evaluating actual student work on that problem. We'll look at how any teacher, not just those embarking on a second career, can make their classroom a place where students feel free to question, discuss, write about, and immerse themselves in mathematics.

Participants will leave the session with good ideas on how to construct similar units for their own teachers.


Using Screen-Capture Movies to Assess Quadrilateral Constructions in Sketchpad

NCSM: Session 227
Annie Fetter

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
10:00 - 11:00
JW Marriott: 101-102


Description: In the online master's class I teach focused on using Sketchpad in grades 6 to calculus, my students make movies to record their interactions with the technology. I've since supported my students' implementation of videos to document and assess their own students' work. We'll focus on examples featuring quadrilateral constructions.

Detailed Description:
Students' sketches of quadrilateral constructions convey much information about the students' understanding of quadrilateral properties and how those properties drive sound constructions. But how do you document the decisions, missteps, and self-corrections that are lost in the final sketch? Make screen-capture movies of the construction process!

The differences between the some of my students' final sketches and the route they took to those sketches, as recorded in their videos, was very informative. I learned so much from the videos that I couldn't have learned from their final sketch. Part of this was because I could watch them using Sketchpad, and part was because I could listen to them talking as they worked through different constructions.

Some of my students decided to try this with their students, and are planning to continue in the fall. They felt that they themselves learned so much from making the videos and talking about what they were doing that they wanted to try it with their own students and see if the same benefits were evident.

We'll discuss quadrilateral properties, analyze Sketchpad constructions of quadrilaterals and tie construction steps to specific properties, view movies made by my graduate students as part of our class and by middle and high school students, see examples of the added information provided by the movies, and hear about experiences of middle and high school teachers with quadrilateral constructions and explorations.

While the focus of the course in which this all started is the use of the Geometer's Sketchpad software in the teaching of mathematics, the screen-capture movies can apply to any use of technology, including other dynamic mathematics programs and the use of applets and spreadsheets.


Developing Leadership in Our Mathematics Community: An Effective Model to Identify and Support Teacher Leaders

NCSM: Session 342
Suzanne Alejandre
Ashley Miller

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
11:15 - 12:15
JW Marriott: 101-102



Description: Examine a model of professional development from the Math Forum @ Drexel that provides opportunities for teachers to build their understanding of mathematical concepts, explore ways to create similar experiences for students, and learn more about resources and support enabling them to become and thrive as leaders in this community.

Detailed Description:
The session is grounded in the ongoing teacher development activities of the Math Forum @ Drexel. Since 1992, the Math Forum has been offering workshops, encouraging leaders to take an active role in the online mathematics community, and providing resources and support to help each teacher reach their potential. Most recently since July, 2008, we have been working with a number of teachers initially identified as leaders from their participation in online workshops developed under a National Science Foundation grant.

Research on these activities suggests that there are three types of teacher participants:

  • Those who need support to both see value in online resources and to use them,
  • Those who see value in online resources but need support to use them,
  • Those who see value in online resources and can immediately make use of them

We will discuss our efforts to help teachers develop into skilled users of high-quality, reform-based instructional resources and become leaders who can help others do the same. These efforts focus on math content knowledge, problem solving and communication, pedagogy, and effective use of technology. In particular, we will:

  • provide a brief overview of free resources - our Orientation Sessions to Ask Dr. Math, Math Tools, tPoWs, KenKen, and Teacher2Teacher
  • engage participants in a sample of problem solving activities
  • share stories from teacher leaders, known as our "Math Forum Ambassadors"

We will discuss ongoing research and analysis being conducted by the Math Forum that seeks to identify program elements that engage teachers and those that lead to lasting impact.

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