It was so nice to be back at NCTM Regionals and connect with old friends and make some new ones. I had a really great time in Atlantic City (no gambling was involved!) Really happy to see The Math Forum folks up front and center as part of NCTM now, out there doing what they do best – making math engaging, thought provoking and relevant. I also ran into a lot of my former colleagues from Key Curriculum, which was a pleasant surprise and made me miss all the rest of them! I got to meet some of the Casio team, both sales folks and teacher trainers, and see and hear some of the things they are doing to help teachers use Casio technology in the classroom. I learned quite a lot from the few sessions I was able to attend as well as learning from the folks in the booth, so feeling even more excited about supporting teachers calculator usage in math instruction.
I met Terry Walsh, a teacher from Colorado, who had a very thought-provoking session showing how released AP Calculus questions could be used with students in grades 6-12. It’s all about the questions you ask, but sixth graders can be doing integral calculus. He really emphasized how the Prizm calculator, with it’s advanced features to modify and show different parts of the graphs or slopes, could help even young mathematicians make conjectures and connections about mathematical situations. Unfortunately, Terry won’t be at the next two NCTM regionals, but if you get a chance to attend one of his sessions, definitely do so. You’ll do some thought provoking math, experience the Prizm, and see how easy it is to visualize and help students make connections.
Mike Reiners, a teacher from St. Paul, Minneapolis, really made the music & math connection, showing how to create functions from songs and then transforming those functions – again, all through the understanding of music. It was fascinating and amazing to hear the music on the Casio keyboard, see the song represented as a function on the Prizm, and then, as see the transformation, understand how that impacts the function equation, and then hear how the transformation changes how the song sounds. I also loved how involved the teachers in the session were – most of whom did not have any musical training, yet were able to create the Parsons Code for a song they chose, convert this to a list of values, and then use the Prizm graphing calculator to generate the corresponding list and graph of the function. And, after some cool melodic playing from Mike, understand how to transform the functions. Students, who we all know love music, would really be able to relate to this approach to understanding transformation of functions, because they can hear and visualize at the same time. If any of you are planning to go to the NCTM Regionals in Minneapolis or Nashville, Mike will be doing his “Think Like a Synthesizer: Applying Algebraic Transformations to Music Melodies” session at both, so be sure to go.
One of my favorite sessions was with Tom Beatini. First, I was impressed at the crowd that showed up at 8 am on a Friday morning – 44 people. Go math teachers! But, what made this session so great was all the math going on – three different data-collection activities, hands-on inquiry with ropes, M&M’s, and cheerios, and appropriate technology integration using the Prizm. Everyone was involved, talking, and learning from each other. What I think I loved the best was the TI-graphing-calculator users who made the effort to use the Prizm graphing-calculators and experienced for themselves how easy they were to use. I appreciate their willingness to step out of their comfort zone. Tom really made the effort to connect the Common Core Math Practices and help his participants focus on the importance of mathematical conversations, questioning and presentations that support justification and solidify understanding. Again, if you are heading to NCTM in Minneapolis or Nashville, be sure to catch Tom’s session “Hand-held Technology + Hands-on Activities = CCSS Success”.
All in all, it was quite fun being back learning and connecting with math educators again. I am looking forward to NCTM Regional in Minneapolis, coming up November 12 & 13. I hope to see a bigger crowd, experience some more great sessions, and connect again with old friends and new. Hopefully I will see some of you there!