A Few Thoughts from NCTM 2015 (#NCTMBoston)

As I sit in the airport with lots of thoughts in my mind, I figured I should deal with a few before taking off. I need my head a little clearer if I'm going to shift my focus back to grad school work. In no particular order, and by no means a complete list:

Coherence
In preparing and giving my own talk, I became increasingly aware that focusing on mathematical tasks affords us lots of opportunities (looking at cognitive demand, CCSS alignment, task language, cultural relevance, adaptation strategies, etc.) but we're going to have to think beyond tasks if we're going to tackle the issue of curricular coherence. I think Anna Blinstein said it best:

I have some thinking to do about this, too. Unfortunately, that's about all I think I have. I've looked at the EQUiP rubrics and they're a step in the right direction, but the challenge of coherence needs to be met with a stronger toolset if we want to tackle this at scale. It's probably a good thing that NCTM president-elect Matt Larson is concerned about this, too.

Not talking the same language, but talking different languages similarly?
I spent the first half of the week around researchers and the second half around teachers. Parts of conversations really aren't that different. You're just as likely to hear a researcher say something like, "My research builds off an approach and findings found by Scholar X who published in Journal Y" as you are to hear a teacher-blogger say, "My teaching builds off an approach and findings found by Blogger X who published on Site Y." In this way, the research and teaching community differs by the literature they draw upon, but is quite similar in their willingness and ability to build on others' work. I see a lot of promise here, and it's making me think that the MathEdnet Wiki needs to open up to put more blogger literature side-by-side with traditional academic literature. I don't see many good reasons for Michael Pershan's approach towards giving hints to not be mentioned alongside similar ideas Stein and Smith's 5 Practices, for example.

Beyond Twitter
Thinking about how we build and bridge communities is important, but I need to balance my critiques and commentary about using Twitter with a broader and more positive message about other available tools. A couple times during the week I heard the question asked, "Do you use Twitter?" and the response was "No" or even "I refuse." Some of those times I feared the message was, "You either use Twitter, or you don't. There's nothing else." I should work a little harder to push people to maybe ask, "Do you use social media or math resources online?" and have better knowledge of non-Twitter ways to engage with math ed folks online. (The lack of a network-neutral hashtag is still a nuisance, though.)

Task Analysis and Adaptation
Geoff Krall's adaptation talk was really good, even if the task analysis was limited to "likes" vs. "dislikes." Then again, maybe I'm just jealous because my rejected presentation was about some specific and useful things to look for when analyzing tasks. I'm pretty sure there was just only so much Geoff could tackle in an hour.

Tricks Nixing
I knew about the book Nix the Tricks but hadn't had any direct interactions with Tina Cardone. I think she's my new math-teacher-blogger-writer-twitter-er crush, or at least one of a half dozen or so that I met in the past week. Check her out if you haven't already.

Time to board a plane.

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