Laila Nur

Let’s Laugh About Math: Promoting Confidence Through Humor

You’re sitting in your classroom, you’re watching your students struggle, and your class time is passing you by. Keep procrastinating, over and over. Well, maybe I’ll help them with their confidence next year…maybe next semester. No, do it right now!

You spend all day trying to build your students’ academic identity anyhow. Why don’t you make a change that’s going to improve their confidence in mathematics?

Why are you making it complicated? It’s easy – let’s laugh about math!

Call to Action

Incorporate mathematical and/or educational humor into your class at least once a week for the next four weeks (or longer). Then:

  1. Describe how you implemented humor into your lesson/class time.
  2. How comfortable did you feel during implementation?
  3. Take note of changes in students’ behavior and attitude over time. How did students respond?
  4. Do students seem more confident or comfortable speaking in front of a group?

About the Speaker

  • 2nd-year teacher at Manual Arts Senior High School in Los Angeles
  • A 3rd year Math for America, Los Angeles fellow
  • In 2012, I graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a BA in Mathematics
  • In 2013, I graduated from the University of Southern California with an MA in Teaching
  • I love cats & dancing
  • My favorite food is cake

Updated 2015 Apr 21: Livetweeting

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Elham Kazemi

Sitting among students: How open doors and collaboration invigorate our teaching

I will paint a picture of joyful possibilities. What happens when teachers find creative ways to teach together, listen intently to children’s thinking about mathematics, and experiment with new ideas?

Call to Action

My call to action is for you to make collective learning opportunities happen by doing the following:

  • Find two teacher friends or more (over time, your principal would be a strategic bonus). Take something you want to try from this conference, from a book, from the math twitter blogosphere. But don’t try it out alone. Explain the idea of owning the lesson together and set some norms for collaboration and risk taking.
  • Plan together and identify some questions you have about your students. Then teach together, while you sit among your students. Call teacher time outs during the lesson that let you pursue ideas, shift direction, or experiment with a next good question.
  • Share back with us what you tried and what you learned from this new way of making practice public and learning together.

About the Speaker

Elham Kazemi is a professor of mathematics education and associate dean for professional learning at the University of Washington. She loves to learn about children’s mathematical thinking, working side-by-side with teachers to develop thriving learning communities for teachers and students alike. Her collaborative projects have been informed by equity-oriented research on organizational learning, children’s mathematical thinking, and classroom practice. Her recent book co-authored with Allison Hintz, Intentional Talk, focuses on leading productive discussions in mathematics.

Updated 2015 Apr 21: Livetweeting

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Tracy Zager

Breaking the Cycle

The majority of elementary school teachers had negative experiences as math students, and many continue to dislike or avoid mathematics as adults. We’ll look at how we can better understand and support our colleagues, so they can reframe their personal relationships with math and teach better than they were taught.

Call to Action

  • This is a collection of words mathematicians’ use when they talk about mathematics. Discuss it with your colleagues, making an extra effort to include everyone.
  • Each person should choose a word that appeals most to him or her. It should be a word that’s not currently a big part of your math teaching and learning, but you wish it were.
  • Using your colleagues as resources and collaborators, make the word you chose central to the planning, teaching, and learning of your next lesson. Don’t skimp on the conversation with your team–that’s part of the point!
  • Teach the lesson. Afterwards, get back together with your colleagues and talk about it. What was different for each of you? What was different for your students?
  • If it works for you, consider sharing the image and exploring it with your students as well. There are lots of possibilities here.
  • Write a few paragraphs here so we can learn together. Describe what happened and what you learned. What ideas do you and your colleagues have for building on this exercise?

About the Speaker

Tracy is a fourth-grade teacher at heart. When her daughters came along, she gave up her own classroom to work with pre-service teachers and their in-service mentor teachers. After several years in adult education, she began field research for her upcoming book, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms (to be published in 2016 by Stenhouse Publishers). She also works with schools as a coach/consultant, and loves learning together with teachers and students over time.

Updated 2015 Apr 21: Livetweeting

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Kristin Gray

Be Genuinely Curious

When students enter our classroom, we ask them to be genuinely curious about the material they are learning each day: curious about numbers and their properties, about mathematical relationships, about why various patterns emerge, but do we, as teachers, bring that same curiosity to our classes? Through our own curiosities, we can gain a deeper understanding of our content and learn to follow the lead of our students in building productive, engaging and safe mathematical learning experiences. As teachers, if we are as genuinely curious about our work each day as we hope the students are about theirs, awesome things happen!

Call to Action

Start a personal math journal and record things you learn and/or curiosities you have around the content you are currently teaching. These curiosities can be your own or ones gained through observations of student talk and/or work. After two weeks of recording in the journal, share a moment(s) that inspired you to be be more curious and describe how it impacted the teaching and learning in your classroom through student work samples and descriptive text.

About the Speaker

Kristin is a Nationally Board certified, 5th grade math teacher at Richard A. Shields Elementary School in the Cape Henlopen School District in Lewes, Delaware. During her nineteen years in education, she has taught 5th – 8th grade math, as well as spent two years as a K-5 Math Specialist. She feels fortunate to be involved with Illustrative Mathematics and The Teaching Channel on projects around developing math tasks, facilitating professional development and blogging about these experiences. She is always excited to share her love of teaching at conferences such as NCTM, NCSM, ISTE, as well as on Twitter and her blog.

Updated 2015 Apr 21: Livetweeting

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Michael Pershan

Why Our Hints Don’t Help

Imagine staring at a math problem that you just don’t get. You want help, but you want the right kind of help – something that gives you a chance to be smart and leaves you with a tool to apply to other problems. In this talk I’ll explain why most hints let our students down and how we can do better by our kids.

Call to Action

For your next lesson, plan your hints in advance and share the ones that work. Together, we’ll create a collection of the very best hints to give.

About the Speaker

Michael Pershan teaches elementary and high school math in New York City. He tweets about teaching math from @mpershan and writes about student thinking at mathmistakes.org.

Updated 2015 Apr 21: Livetweeting

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Christopher Danielson

Listen to Your Students

Teachers are busy—so busy we often don’t hear what students say. Sometimes we hear things that students don’t say. I’ll make a case for the importance of listening carefully to students of all ages. I’ll encourage you to make time to listen more carefully, and I’ll give you some simple strategies for doing it.

Call to Action

Try this 3 times: When a student explains something or makes a claim in the regular course of class, and you believe you and the student have a shared understanding, ask a follow-up question. Listen carefully to the response. Make a note of any differences between what you expected to hear and what you heard. Share one instance where these differed by briefly describing: (1) The initial student explanation or claim, (2) Your follow up question, (3) What you expected to hear, (4) What you did hear, and (5) Your reflections on what this difference means for your class.

About the Speaker

Christopher Danielson is a curriculum writer, educator, math blogger, and researcher bringing cutting edge ideas from mathematics education research to parents and teachers across the country. He teaches at Normandale Community College in Minnesota. He has written Common Core Math For Parents For Dummies, which came out April 2015. He blogs at Talking Math with Your Kids and Overthinking My Teaching. Find him on Twitter: @Trianglemancsd.

Updated 2015 Apr 21: Livetweeting

Check out the collection on Storify.