Recap: NCTM 2016

San Francisco, CA , April 2016
I have summarized each session with some simple (•) bulleted notes, red underline to encapsulate my major take-aways, and occasionally a brief italicized commentary.


The Status Quo Is Unacceptable: A Common Vision for Improving Collegiate Mathematics Diane Briars, & Linda Braddy, Christine D. Thomas & Dr. Uri Treisman

  • Big Take-Away #1 = College failure rates are 55% higher than for more active forms of instruction.
  • Big Take-Away #2 = The math ed reform movement is now reaching the post-secondary level.
  • Big Take-Away #3 = The change must be institutional.

  • The challenge facing the Math Ed Community (the dismal stats)
    1) Only 50% of students earn A, B or C in college algebra.
    2) Women are twice as likely as men to not continue past Calc 1.
    3) While 20% of all Bachelors Degrees are awarded to Blacks & Hispanics, only 12% of Math Degrees are.
    4) Math is the most significant barrier to degree completion in ALL fields.
  • Innovation does not affect normative practice. Out of 81 different projects (2-3 yrs) connected to a grant or leader, NONE replaced normative practice, because they were based on faculty development, not institutional change.  Dr Treisman, “Institutional change is a bitch.”
  • Historically, school system does change when necessary.

The Learning Mindset Movement and Its Implications for Addressing Opportunity Gaps — Dr. Uri Treisman (The Dana Center)

  • Big Take-Away  = Besides Growth Mindset, there is Belonging Mindset and Purpose Mindset.
  • “I find Algebra beautiful, but will it knock the socks off of a 13 year old. Algebra well taught should leave them barefoot in the park.”
  • “Why do kids give up? Most of the work I do is confusing, cause no one gives me problems in the back of the book.”
  • Growth Mindset = “Can I do this?”
    Belonging Mindset = “Is this where I belong?”
    Purpose Mindset = “Does this connect to who I want to be?
  • Dr. Catherine Good:  Building Bridges to Belonging: Mindsets that Increase Participation, Achievement and Learning
  • Build Belonging through effort & engagement, not talent.
  • Positive Belonging Mindset = Assume they belong.
    Negative Belonging Mindset = Need to be invited in.

Paper Cup + Gust of Wind = Yearlong Rich Task — Peg Cagle

  • Big Take-Away = Revisiting the same task through-out the year emphasizes math as reasoning not simply answer-getting.
  • Peg had us roll a paper cup on its side. She then left us to our own devices to answer several questions, each of which addressed a different mathematical topic throughout the school year.
  • Day 35 Question: How can you convince a skeptic of the shape that the cup traces out as it rolls?
  • Day 70 Question: How can you locate the center of the shape that the cup traces out as it rolls?
  • Day 105 Question: How can you use a cup’s dimensions to determine the area of the shape it traces out as it rolls?
  • “Efficiency is overrated: That is a concern after you learn something.”

Coding to Enrich ALL Math Classes — Jason Slowbe

  • Big Take-Away = Coding in Math class helps teach the Math, not just the coding.
  • Coding can be done on the TI-Calculator
  • Can help students understand the meaning and power of mathematics. For example, Archimedes’ method for approximating the area of a circle.

Rich Problem Solving to Support Today’s Standards — Chris Shore (Teacher Created Materials)

I conducted a product promotion for Teacher Created Materials. The session was on Problem Solving and Linda Gojak’s What’s Your Math Problem Anyway? My presentation focused on the following questions about the teaching of problem solving, each of which I will answer in its own post:

  • What is problem solving?
  • Why teach problem solving?
  • Who should learn problem solving?
  • When should we teach problem solving?
  • How should we teach problem solving?
  • Where do we find resources for teaching problem solving?
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