Today’s actually my second day at the CMC South conference in Palm Springs. I came a day early for the math coaches workshops on the pre-conference day–awesome chance to connect with other teacher leaders from all around. However, the highlight of my extra day had to be a walk through the Palm Springs street fair with Robert Kaplinsky. Though I’ve known Robert online and as a (powerful) presence at conferences, I’ve never had the time to hang out with him one on one before…so glad I did! Thanks, Robert, for the chat and for convincing me to attend your session! More on that further on in this post…
I wanted to give a quick thank you to all the people who attended my debate session! A copy of my slides are here: CMC Conference Slides! It was the first time I did the talk in a large room, a less intimate setting, and (though it all went well!), I’m starting to think about how I would re-work it in the future for a large space. I’m learning that I’m a teacher/presenter/adult that enjoys small group settings.
After a wonderful lunch with some of my favorite (and new!) math teacher friends, I made my way to Robert’s talk. If you haven’t seen his Open Middle problems or heard him talk, definitely check them out! I had a great time working alongside Eric Martin as we created our own open middle problems. A (messy) vision of what I did is below:
There’s something interesting that really stood out to me about these problems (and the presentation on a macro level)–I felt a similarity between the session I attended and the one I led. Creating these open middle problems and creating debate-able questions are two different styles/methods with similar goals. For one, we both want to help teachers see ways to improve their questioning. My style is to foster more discussion and debate through creating debate-able questions, and Open Middle is re-working questions in its way to challenge students and increase discussion/engagement around problems. We’re both deepening students’ understanding of the math and awareness of misconceptions. We’re both trying to increase student engagement and to allow for various methods. It’s just the details in how we do it that is different.
Of course there are plenty of ways to contrast the two, but sitting in Robert’s talk, I noticed how similar even the structure and style of the presentation was. We both take teachers through this journey of doing the kind of problems we want them to do, creating problems by sharing a method of developing problems similar to what we just did and sharing resources to extend their exploration and learning in what we are each doing. (Granted, Robert is waaaaaaay ahead of me on collecting and collating resources, but I’m just saying we have a similar flow.)
It’s really a feeling, and I still struggling to put the connection into words.