Friday, September 2, 2011

Yesterday I found out that I won a lottery that will cost me money

Theme: Technology!
NCTM accepted my proposal to speak at the NCTM annual meeting in Philadelphia next April. That's the good news. The down side is that getting there, hotel and registration ($241 for speakers) will set me back some. But the important thing for me is that I won. I’ve been submitting proposals annually since 2004 after Johnny Lott - then president of NCTM - informed me that affiliate groups were no longer going to get automatic invites to present at annual meetings. I did put up an argument about that since I disagreed with the decision to make it a completely level playing field since I thought affiliate groups deserved a perk for all the hard work they do in promoting NCTM interests. One of the NCTM board members at the time told me that even the president of NCTM has to submit a proposal. (Of course, that was a bit disingenuous since they do invite people to give presentations.)  At first glance that may seem to be a good idea, but after many years of observing presenters especially in the days pre-2007 when there were computer workshops I’ve been disappointed with what I’ve seen. I’ve brought up this issue many times with board members, presidents, etc. and they all had roughly the same response:  “That’s just your opinion. From our experience the sessions have been well received.” I can’t argue with that. But since my bias leans heavily in the direction of meeting the needs of 21st century learners through the use of technology, I’m almost always disappointed with what NCTM provides at the annual meetings technology-wise (as you might have guessed if you’ve been reading my blogs on a regular basis.)
It’s not always been this way. Back in the mid 90s when the Internet was just warming up NCTM had technology strands and even technology "conferences within a conference” (CWaCs) organized by the Math Forum in 1998 & 1999 which included the trucking in of computers from local schools so that there would be computer labs available at the conference. In 1996 Daryl Sternom a member of the local arrangements committee at the annual meeting in San Diego brought in a trailer carrying computers with Internet access and parked it near the convention center. (Read his report and watch short video below taken in 2010 as reminisces about that event.)
Those were heady times when an individual or group had some freedom to explore areas of interest. That's much more difficult to do today since the conference is a such a tightly woven enterprise. (I tried to do something this year. See the email I sent to this year's program chair. It was ignored.) But with the advent of Web 2.0 and its potential to help teachers and students learn math in dynamic new ways, it may be a good time to think creatively and shake things up a bit. Since doing a CWaC focusing on technology is not possible any more within the context of the conference - the cost factor is considered prohibitive by every member of NCTM's inner circle that I've ever talked to - CLIME would like to organize an independent event either before of during the annual conference next year that would highlight the power of Web 2.0 to change the ways students and teachers learn and teach mathematics.

A couple of years ago Gary Stager – a long time friend of CLIME’s initiatives (see description of his 2002 talk at a CLIME session) did a marvelous pre-Educon 2009 event  “Constructing Modern Math & Science Knowledge” event in Philly which I participated in.  I’ve been trying to convince him to hold a math themed one next April that could be held the day before the annual NCTM meeting. But if that doesn’t work out, I would like CLIME to do an online event that would model the power of cloud-based technology in math education. Please let me know if you are interested in helping to plan such an event. It would be great to have it be an onsite event, but an online version would be also be useful. Let me know if you are interested in helping with and/or supporting such an event. (Send Email)

From the blogs
Karim Kai Ani of writes about his frustration with being wait listed for the conference in his latest blog NCTM 2012: We Need Your Help! He asks for your help in getting him on the program. Unfortunately, the conference planners still devote a huge block of conference time to what I call “Desert Island Math*” which still plays a large role in what’s on the conference agenda so there is little time devoted to more promising talks that speak to the issues of what teachers need to know and do in this Web based world.

Also, if you are presenting on a technology theme at the NCTM meeting please let me know. Maybe together we can send a strong message to the NCTM decision makers than technology should no longer be a conference frill but something that is part of the infrastructure of NCTM conferences. (For example, Internet access throughout the conference.)
Other related CLIME blog entries
  • At the conference we can get by with a little help from our friends - link
  • Karim Kai Ani - Math 2.0 Live! Elluminate session - link
  • Board's response (2008) to the technology resolution is in... and it ain't pretty - link
*Math that can be done on a desert island (no batteries or electricity necessary or allowed.)