A Smorgasbord of Math Thoughts (Thanks to NCCTM)

I had the privilege of attending the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM) Annual Conference last week in Greensboro, North Carolina. I soaked up so much new knowledge during those two days of workshops and sessions. In summary, three main points stood out to me during this conference:

  1. Literacy, literacy, literacy. (Yes, in a math classroom.)
  2. Student-centered learning (and centers) should be the main focus, not teacher-led instruction.
  3. Technology. ‘Nough said.

On Friday, I attended a session presented by Dr. Leah McCoy of Wake Forest University (Go Deacs!) and five of her esteemed math ed students. The session was titled “Mathematical Practice: Procedures and Understandings.” I will be completely honest: I had no idea what that title meant…I was simply going because this presenter was from Wake Forest University (my husband’s Alma Mater). However, I am so glad that I chose that session! Why?

Dr. McCoy and her students stressed the importance of students’ real-world application of math content, beyond basic comprehension. To exhibit some examples of higher-order thinking (HOT) and project-based learning (PBL), each presenter demoed a math WebQuest that they created for their future math students. These WebQuests were GREAT and they started giving me some GREAT ideas!

At the conclusion of their presentation, one of my fellow session attendees thanked them for the time and effort that they put into their WebQuests. (Which, by the way, they made available to all attendees free-of-charge. Yes!) This same attendee made a comment that struck a chord with me: she said something like, “You just don’t have time to make these once you enter the classroom. [Teachers] know we should make time, but it just isn’t there.”  So true…unless you are Superman/Wonder Woman (or a zombie).

When I became That Math Lady – whom I like to think of as a modern-day math superhero – I was given the gift of time. This time has allowed me to recharge my creativity battery that was drained during those years of teaching in the classroom, consequently reestablishing my ability to create activities, games, and (now) WebQuests, like the one below.

Teachers, I know that time is not abundant and creativity is not free-flowing.  Still, do what you can. Utilize your resources, and call on That Math Lady if you ever need any help.

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