CMC North 2014 Recap: The Sessions, Part 1

Here’s how I started my CMC South 2014 Recap:

Last weekend turned out to be one of my favorite weekends of my teaching career. I haven’t exactly been at this for decades, but 11 years is no short span either. The weekend was that enjoyable, at least for me.

CMC North (a conference I’ve attended several times before) didn’t disappoint, even in comparison to my weekend in Palm Springs back in October. My Saturday session wasn’t nearly as strong as in socal (more on that in another post), but we had some fun nonetheless, and several people shared some really positive feedback. On top of that, Saturday evening’s Ignite sessions were a crazy whirlwind of terror and joy.

After CMC South, I promised a two part recap: One focused on sessions, one focused on “everything else” (with an emphasis on people and community). My game plan for this post is to provide a quick recap of each session I attended. Later in the week (if I have any energy left), I’ll drop a combined “Everything Else” recap of CMC North and South.

On to the session recaps!

Session 1

“Does That Make Sense in the Story?”: Launching and Exploring Rich Problems
(Max Ray • Friday, 1:30-4:30 pm)

I kicked off my CMC North experience (scrambling into the session just minutes before it was about to start) with a hello/handshake combo from Max Ray. I’ve more or less turned into a Max Ray superfan over the past 12 months. From his book to his blog to his numerous Ignite talks… I’ve been soaking up as much of his writing and speaking as I can. It was a pleasure to meet him face to face, and great fun to sit in his low-key, problem-rich, thoughtful session to kick of what I hoped would be a great weekend.

I’ve discovered that Tweeting during a workshop or presentation helps me focus, process, and remember key ideas. There’s something about the 140 character limit that forces me to distill ideas I’m hearing into more memorable nuggets. At any rate, I put this into practice at a few sessions this weekend, including Max’s. You can find all of my Tweets related to Max’s session right here.

If you’re, notes I took during the session are available here.

Session 2

Math in the Movies
(Tony DeRose • Friday, 7:30-9:00 pm)

I planned on attending the keynote, but was (a) going to be late, (b) growing more nervous about my Ignite talk, (c) less-than-inspired by the session title. So I went back to the Pacific Grove Inn and spent the next couple of hours talking to myself on the porch.

Session 3

Get Students to Argue Through Number Sense Activities
(Andrew Stadel • Saturday, 8:00-9:00 am)

I’ll take the lazy way out and summarize my experience in Andrew’s session with a few tweets:

That certainly doesn’t do it justice, but it’s a start. My favorite things  from Andrew’s session were seeing him in action for the first time (I’ve been stealing his estimation and three act tasks online for about two years) and his framework for number sense activities:

  • A framework for number sense activities, and constructing viable arguments
  • Simple visual and/or question
  • Competition or guessable answer
  • Students create a representation
  • Students assess each other (accountability)
  • Students define what is important, vocabulary

I scribbled a few other notes down during the session if you want to have a look.

Session 4

Calculus Adjacent: Designing Math Electives Accessible To All
(Bree Pickford-Murray • Saturday, 9:30-10:30 am)

After Andrew’s session I hopped on a yellow school bus and rode over to the Middle School for a session from a fellow Igniter (@btwnthenumbers):

I walked in the door a minute before the session was supposed to start, a little out of breath. (Did anyone else run from the bus to a session or two this weekend? Just me? Oh well…) Luckily, I found an open seat—next to @cheesemonkeysf, no less!—and we were off. (As the “presider” I had the honor of introducing Bree, something made a little more awkward by my out-of-breath-ness).

For years I’ve thought about enriching our math department with some non-calculus electives, but I’ve never pulled the trigger. Sitting around a group of people who were in a similar position, and quite a few who have already journeyed down that road with courses like Cryptography, History of Math, Topics in…, Topology, and Game Theory, was a great way to spend the middle of the morning. Bree did an excellent job leading the discussion. There were about 25 people in the room, and I believe almost every chimed in at least once during the session. I left with some peer-inspired inspiration, quite a few ideas to explore, and a slight increase to the number of math titles on my Amazon wishlist.

Also, there was a woman in the session (her name was Laura Hawkins… and I’m thinking this might be here) with a handful of amazing comments/quotes. I wrote them down in my notes, which are here. I also created a Google Document to collect “Courses Offered” and “Courses Considered” ideas from everyone in the session. I never ended up sharing it since it wasn’t my session. (It seemed like it might have been rude to jump in like that.) Anyway, this is my blog, so there’s no need for restraint. If you’d be interested in contributing to it, have at it!


Well, that’s enough typing for a bit. I’ll share some thoughts/notes from Dan Meyer, Robert Kaplinsky, and Jo Boaler’s sessions very soon.

[UPDATE: Part 2 is available here.]

Comments 2

  1. Snaps Michael! I was not able to make it to CMCN but your review was a nice flavor. I’m really interested in the notes you took for the non-Calculus elective courses. Since our district has went with the integrated model and we will more than likely have a 3 year math requirement, I am looking for alternatives. Do you know where I can get the course descriptions for the courses you listed in EverNote? Also, was your ignite talk recorded?

  2. Post

    Tim, I’m glad my notes were helpful. I took a few photos of the course descriptions during the session. I think you can find them in Bree’s slide deck (which I’ve linked to in the post). If that doesn’t pan out, let me know and I’ll track down my photos. The Ignite talks were recorded. Not sure the timetable the Math Forum has in mind for editing, uploading, and sharing. I know it’s a significant amount of work. Probably mid spring based on last year’s upload dates.

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