My 2018 NCTM Annual Meeting Conference Proposal

We’re two weeks removed from the 2017 NCTM Annual conference, which means we’re also two weeks away from the 2018 proposal deadline.

I just submitted mine. I’ll share it here (with some light commentary) in case anyone’s interested in my process or proposal.


Websites, browsers, the Internet. This stuff is great, and it usually works the way it’s supposed to. However, sometimes a site will crash or my router will restart for no particular reason. So I’ve made a habit of drafting conference proposals elsewhere, then copy/pasting once it’s all ready to go.

(This also makes it easier to share if you’re looking for feedback from a colleague before you hit that “finalize” button.)

Here’s my workflow for putting that draft together and ultimately sending it off into NCTM’s servers:

  1. Go to, login, and click “submit a proposal.”
  2. Pull categories (e.g., Title, Description) and requirements (e.g, max character count) into a document via copy/paste.
  3. Write the title.
  4. Write the description.
  5. Write everything else.
  6. Go back to
  7. Paste my responses in the appropriate boxes.
  8. Preview (here I take advantage of the print feature to save a PDF copy for my records).
  9. Press “finalize” and hope for the best.


Here’s my proposal, minus some minutiae (e.g., whether I need a document camera) plus some other details (e.g., connections to NCTM’s Principles to Actions).

Categories are in bold. Details are in italics. My responses/choices are indented.


Type title as it should appear in the program book. Your title should not be all capitals or all lower-case. Limited to 100 characters.

Applying the Five Practices to Visual Patterns

Description of Presentation

Write a concise, specific description of the essential content of your presentation. On acceptance of your proposal, the description will be printed in the program book, subject to editing by NCTM. Use appropriate capitalization. Limited to 350 characters.

In this session we’ll explore a rich context for making connections between multiple representations: visual patterns. Using Smith and Stein’s Five Practices as a guide, we’ll discuss best practices for facilitating classroom discussions around visual patterns, with special attention given to selecting, sequencing, and connecting student work.

Participant Learning

Write the participant learning outcomes of your presentation, including an explicit description of what participants will learn. Please also provide an overview describing how time will be allocated during this presentation. Limited to 1000 characters.

Participants will learn: (1) how to use visual patterns to build arithmetic and algebraic thinking while promoting reasoning and problem solving, (2) how to use the Smith and Stein’s five practices of anticipating, monitoring, selecting, sequencing, and connecting to facilitate productive mathematical discourse, and (3) how to use visual patterns to connect multiple representations including visual, verbal, numerical, algebraic, and graphical.

Participants will spend their time: (1) wearing their “student hats” as they work through a pair of visual patterns tasks, (2) wearing their “teacher hats” as they discuss the student thinking and teacher moves on display during these initial explorations and discussions, (3) engaging in the “anticipating” stage of the five practices as they imagine the various approaches and solutions students will generate, and (4) wearing their “authoring” hats as they create their own visual pattern task.

Focus on Math

What is the key mathematics content that is a focus of this presentation? Be specific. Limited to 500 characters.

Among other things, visual patterns provide a bridge from numerical thinking to algebraic thinking. In this workshop we’ll focus on establishing and strengthening that bridge. Participants will make connections between numerical expressions like 3 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 and 3 + 2 • 10, and algebraic expressions like 3 + 2 • n. Participants will explore recursive relationships and functional relationships in both linear and quadratic settings.

Interactive Workshop

How will you use the provided tables to create an interactive workshop? Be explicit about what participants will do together at tables. Limited to 750 characters.

The success of the session depends on engaged participants, smooth collaboration, and vibrant discussion. The table setting of an interactive workshop offers the most effective setup to support these elements. At their tables, participants will: (1) work through visual patterns tasks with paper, pencil, and manipulatives, (2) reflect on their experience in small groups before sharing out in the larger discussion, and (3) work together to create their own task.

Workshop Audience

6 to 8

(Quick note: I wish we could select more than one grade band. The content in the session is really geared to 6-12. But alas, there’s a one choice limit.)


Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum: Best Practices for Engaging Students

Strand choices (and descriptions) are available here.

Equity and Access

How does your presentation align with NCTM’s dedication to equity and access? Limited to 500 characters.

This session will equip participants will skills and strategies to support their work in ensuring that all students have access to a challenging mathematics curriculum, taught by skilled and effective teachers. We’ll also draw out principles for designing and facilitating effective learning experiences that can be applied to a wide range of topics in K-12 mathematics. Participants will also gain access to a large collection of free, ready-to-use visual patterns tasks.

Connection to NCTM’s Principles to Actions:

  • [2] Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving.
  • [3] Use and connect mathematical representations.
  • [4] Facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse.

Your Turn?

I hope that proves helpful to a few folks. Maybe you’ll carve out a couple of hours this week to submit your own proposal? Either way, I hope to see you in Washington, D.C. in April 2018.


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