I returned from another wonderful year of conferences at CMC-South. It is always a great conference in Palm Springs, CA around this time each year. (I highly recommend it!) I wanted to share the two big take aways that are sticking with me a day or two later…
1) Math & Social Justice
Dr. K Childs gave a wonderful talk about how math and social justice are (and should be) intertwined. He talked about how they are inextricably linked, and we should not separate them. Math is inherently political.
He shared ideas of topics for math problems. In the session we did examples with percents and hiring practices.
It’s hard to explain the power of his talk in this blog. It was a great mindset shift for me to hear him talk about all the ways math is intertwined with social justice. He ended with a great sentiment of
There is a lot of work to be done on my part to develop problems and activities that truly bring the social justice issues into the curriculum.
2) Math & Humanizing
Howie Hua gave a great impromptu talk about humanizing the math classroom. He is a professor of pre-service math teachers, and he is doing such wonderful work! He defined humanizing as
My favorite take-away was that to help with math anxiety, each time Howie gives out a test, he has students put away their pens/pencils and take five minutes to talk about the test (it has already been passed out). So students can discuss possible strategies with their group for a few of the problems. Then, after the 5 minutes, they work independently on the test.
I really like this, and I’m wondering about extending this idea to have a group quiz in my class that is entirely oral, no writing allowed. I might give groups 5 minutes to talk through and work out problems orally. However, they would not be able to write anything down (these would be problems that are much more explanation focused than calculations). As they are discussing, I imagine visiting each group and the person I choose (possibly randomly?) has to explain the problem. (Perhaps then they can use a pen or pencil.) I might have different student each explain one problem, but at the end of the day, it would be a group grade on how well each problem was explained…just an idea I’m mulling over…
Overall, it was a great conference. I was glad to spend time with so many wonderful people. We explored the idea of #cancelledschmancelled rogue sessions. I gave my talk on debate in math class, and I was really happy that it finally felt “right.” And I got to share it with two wonderful teachers at my school!