I and the Casio Education team just got back from San Francisco where we were part of the Association of State Supervisors of Math (ASSM), National Council of Supervisors of Math (NCSM) and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conferences. Each conference and experience was different, and gave us a broad perspective on what is happening in math education around the country and the hard work education leaders and teachers are doing to support the teaching and learning of mathematics. I am going to do a NCTM specific post later this week, and would like to devote this post to the three events where Casio had the privilege to support ASSM, NCSM and the Benjamin Banneker Association (BBA). Each event/sponsorship provided a unique opportunity to learn about the mathematics community and all these educators do to ensure students are getting a quality mathematics education.
We started our time in San Francisco hosting the opening reception for ASSM. After the Keynote speaker, Gail Burrill, I was honored to be able to say a few words regarding the state of technology in mathematics classrooms. This was my first time meeting and getting to know some of the current and former state supervisors of mathematics from all over the United States. It was clear, from their great questions during the Keynote and engaging conversation and sharing of information at the reception, that they are focused on ensuring their schools districts, educational leaders and teachers are getting the support they need. One thing I learned was how incredibly busy these ASSM members are, and, in fact, many of these were retired supervisors still working with their states and teachers – now that’s dedication! While I am still finding out more about ASSM, I know that they are a group of math leaders dedicated to ensuring that mathematics education is getting needed funding, math teachers are getting the support and training, and schools are getting a clear understanding of both state and federal expectations for students to learn math effectively. It’s a big job, a very political job, but clearly a very dedicated and focused group of educators willing to do the job.
Our next adventure was in Oakland, CA for the NCSM conference. I have to say it was pretty cool walking around and seeing all the volunteers wearing Casio t-shirts and everyone carrying a Casio bag, both part of Casio’s sponsorship. (If you were there and got a bag, don’t you just love the water bottle holder!!!??!) This was the first year NCSM was not in the same location as NCTM (which was across the bay in San Francisco), which was a little concerning, knowing there might be fewer attendees as a result. However, there quite a few participants at the conference, and I know as I popped into several sessions, the rooms were full with math educators ready to learn. As part of our sponsorship, we hosted a Sponsorship Showcase the first morning, presented by one of our fabulous mathematics teachers, Mike Reiners. It was a fascinating workshop, based on the game show, Wheel of Fortune, which Mike was an actual contestant on. It was fascinating to learn and calculate the probabilities of landing on certain values and the probability of things like losing your turn or hitting the million dollar wedge. I, like many others in the room, thought that the probabilities remained constant, since each spin of the wheel is independent from the others, but apparently, not the case! It was also great to actual see real video footage of Mike’s actual appearance on the show and make predictions about what he (and the other contestants) should have done, and then see the real results. It was also hilarious to see the teachers in our workshop trying to guess the word/phrase themselves – there were some pretty quick responses! Mike used both the fx-991 Scientific Calculator, with it’s natural display and spreadsheet capabilities as well as the Prizm graphing calculator, to show the statistics and probabilities. All the participants had hands-on with the calculators as well, so they could do some of the calculations themselves. That’s always fun to see everyone’s reaction to these calculators and how excited they get about their functionality (yes – we are math teachers!). All the attendees walked away with a free Prizm, which was exciting….some new Casio users!!
After a busy few days in Oakland, we ended back in San Francisco, ending our week with the NCTM conference at the San Francisco Conference Center. This was so much fun with so many math educators over the course of three days. In fact, it was such a great time I am going to devote an entire post to just NCTM later this week. What I would like to focus on from NCTM here is the Benjamin Banneker Reception Casio had the privilege of sponsoring on Thursday evening. It was BBA’s 30th year celebration and we were so excited to be able to be a part of this great group of leaders who dedicate so much time, resources, and support to ensure equitable educational opportunities for African American students. At the reception there were several outstanding local area educators honored for their outstanding efforts on behalf of their students. Hearing their stories, where they work diligently, tirelessly, and at all hours of the day giving of themselves to ensure their students succeed in school and have support was inspirational. There were also three students honored, two of whom relieved a $250 Book Award from BBA to support them as they went on to college, and one student received a $1,000 scholarship from Casio towards their college endeavors. It brought tears to my eyes as I listened to these three students talk about their struggles and perseverance, encouraged to “make a plan and see it through” along with the the support they received from their principal and their parents. To top it off, there was a great musical group that had everyone clapping along. It was a lovely to meet, support and get a sense of the powerful work the BBA is doing to support equitable education opportunities and resources for students. Casio is certainly excited to be a part of their work in the continuing years.
All in all, sponsoring such great organizations is something Casio is excited we have the opportunity to do. ASSM, NCSM, and BBA are dedicated groups of educators who are striving to improve mathematics education and education in general. Being able to meet and support these groups was a rewarding experience in itself and for me personally, inspired me and made me more aware of the hard work these groups of educators are out there doing every day to make a difference in students’ lives. Hopefully this gave you a small glimpse. Next post I will talk about the fun we had at NCTM – lots of pictures to come!