Thursday, March 7, 2019

Technology & NCTM’s Annual Meeting: A Closer Look - Part 2

Figure 1
As mentioned in my previous blog post, there are 94 sessions which emphasize technology’s role in math ed in their sessions. I did an analysis of the grade levels of the talks. In figure 1 note that the most frequent grade level for tech sessions at the NCTM annual this year is in the high school range. If you include the 8-10 range as partially high school you have a total of 56 sessions appropriate for a high school audience.That’s almost 60% of the total. I suspect the conference program committee missed this fact.

See previous 2 blog posts which discuss the upcoming conference (here and here.)

The Moon Challenge Revisited

John Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1962
There is no question that going to the moon in 1969 was hard, but what's even harder today is making math learning extraordinary. Imagine if we could make the common student statement "I'm not good at math" disappear. It sounds impossible, but it really isn't; it's just plain hard. John Kennedy put a deadline (end of the decade-1960s) on when man would descend on the moon. We as teachers should do the same so we have a target when we'll solve the math problem. The educational gurus have tried to do this before (e.g. No Child Left Behind) and have failed because the goals set forth were not realistic. So what is a realistic goal for math education?

Larry Cuban makes a distinction between complex and complicated problems. See link. Complex hard is different from complicated hard in dealing with problems to solve. The latter can be done through systematic planning and human control. A complex system is more like getting a student to succeed in school.

In math education (ME) we tackle this complex system and don't do very well. (See this.) We could make ME complicated if we stood the current ME on its head and opted for a more student friendly curriculum. For example, what would happen if we created "textbooks" that kids actually wanted to read instead of our current textbooks which focus on what teachers think students ought to endure because like spinach it's good for them? It's possible, but not very likely because solving ME's dilemmas are thoroughly complex.

Here's some ideas worth thinking about when you sit down to write a lesson plan.
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." John Kennedy
"Across the educational landscape, a broad variety of extraordinary teachers and exceptional schools employ technology to transform student experiences, facilitating deep engagement and meaningful learning.  But take a moment to re-read that last sentence.  Note the words “extraordinary” and “exceptional.”  These are words one commonly hears associated with teachers and schools where technology is used in ways that truly enhance learning.  My goal is to be able to someday re-write that sentence so that we can report that technology is helping ordinary teachers and schools to do extraordinary things." Barry Fishman (1)

1. Fishman, B. "It's not about the Technology" Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 06, 2006. ID Number: 12584

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Technology & NCTM's Meeting in San Diego: A Closer Look

In CLIME’s 30+ years as a technology affiliate of NCTM a lot of changes have occurred in the world of technology. From the early programming days of using BASIC and Logo to today’s coding challenges we’ve come full circle. The biggest change is the development of social media (conveyance) tools that expands student’s and teacher’s opportunity to collaborate and communicate via Web 2.0 tools. There is also a plethora of dynamic math (action) software & technologies.

So in the spirit of looking for examples of the above I took a deep dive into the haystack containing 759 sessions and came up with 94 that mention technology terms.

Dynamic Math software and apps

Leading the pack with 16 sessions is Desmos and its applications. STEM and STEAM have 15 sessions. Coming in third (which was a surprise to me) with 10 sessions is coding. Graphing calculators are highlighted in 5 sessions while Geogebra has only 5. Other assorted references to technology appear in 14 sessions.

Here’s a list of all the technology related terms and the number of sessions in which they were found.

It’s interesting how a program like Desmos has caught fire. It is a good graphing program which can be used as an activity builder. But what makes it inspiring is the support and leadership provided by the Desmos staff.

Web 2.0 & Collaboration

There is only one session (#683) devoted to teachers collaborating with teachers online. That’s not to say there are not others devoted to students going online to collaborate with other students. I didn’t come up with any.

Twitter also has one session late on Saturday. Here's the description:
Have you heard Twitter is a great way to connect to other teachers? You've created an account, but aren't sure how to leverage its use for collaboration? Chats are often a nice way to join a conversation. Join us for a burst session focused on making you comfortable with types of chats you may find and some tips on joining the conversation. 
Go here for more details.

The highlighted sessions are the ones I hope to attend.

CLIME Meeting

If you are planning to be in San Diego next month please note the date, time and place for our meeting. More details to follow in future blogs.

The topic for the meeting will be the same as the title of this post: Technology and NCTM's Meeting in San Diego: A Closer Look.

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