Posts tagged Reasoning and Sense Making

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NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – Final Reflections

It is Sunday evening as I start this and we are back home after our trip to Orlando for the NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making. I am tired. It has been a full few days, but I have learned a lot over the last few days. If you haven’t read, here are my recaps of sessions: Thursday, July 28Dan Meyer Keynote Friday, July 29Panel DiscussionDan Meyer Breakout Session (Capturing Perplexity)Keynote – It All Starts With The TasksHenri Picciotto Breakout Session (Making Sense in Algebra 2) Saturday, July 30Keynote – Implementing Tasks That Promote Reasoning and Sense MakingBill Thill Breakout Session (Rich Tasks in Algebra Work)Adlai E. Stevenson HS Breakout Session (Activities That Promote Reasoning and Sense Making in Algebra) What have I learned and  gained from this experience?I feel I have a much better grasp on what a “rich task” is. I have been trying to get a better handle on what that means. I realize that I […]

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NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – Activities That Promote Reasoning and Sense Making in Algebra

aThe last breakout session I attended at NCTM’s Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making was “Activities That Promote Reasoning and Sense Making in Algebra.” This session was led by two math teachers and a principal (and former math teacher) at Adlai E. Stevenson HS in Lincolnshire, IL. John Carter is the principal, Gwen Zimmermann is the department head (of a math department with 43 teachers! – they have 4200 students in their school), and Darshan Jain just finished his first year teaching. Gwen started off by referencing the 5 Practices book by Peg Smith from my morning keynote. She did briefly go over them as well. Like with the morning breakout session I attended with Bill Thill, I was very actively engaged in the tasks they presented us. Here are my notes of some key points they made: Learning is a social construction – a lot of learning happens when we talk about the mathematics. Gwen talked about a “typical” lesson […]

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NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – Rich Tasks in Algebra Work 7/30

We had two breakout sessions on Saturday. The first I attended was “Rich Tasks in Algebra Work: Assessment for Learning in Action” by William Thill from Harvard Westlake. Bill was very up front about what his session was going to be – we would do and analyze a math task, go over what he called the 5 non-negotiable strategies, do some designing work, give and receive some feedback on what we designed, and if there was time, he would share his experience with this task. His Goals – • See how analyzing the mathematics of a task influences how you’ll engineer classroom time with your students• Use “five nonnegotiables” of assessment for learning as a framework to use rich task effectively in your classroom If you head to the Institute handout website, you will find his handouts, slides, and a couple of other references. Before we got into the task, Bill cited that Park City Mathematics Institute was the most […]

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NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – Implementing Tasks That Promote Reasoning and Sense Making

Saturday morning opens with three keynote speakers for us to choose from. I debated between going to see Tim Kanold, who was talking about PLCs in his session, (Glenn Waddell blogs about it here) and the one I chose, Implementing Tasks that Promote Reasoning and Sense Making with Margaret Smith from The University of Pittsburgh. She started by stating that selecting a good task is an important first task. We need to select tasks that live up to their potential. Her session is based on her book, Five Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions – what you need to do before and during the exercise to promote the reasoning and sense making in the exercise. I will note that I had heard a couple of really good recommendations for this book (one in another session) and it was written for teachers. The people who had read it said that it was easy to read and understand and well worth it. […]


NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – Making Sense in Algebra 2 7/29

The last breakout workshop I attended on Friday was “Making Sense in Algebra 2” led by Henri Picciotto from The Urban School of San Francisco. All handouts are available on his website ( By the time I got to this session, I was hitting the mid-afternoon doldrums that you especially get when you have been at a conference all day and you’re not used to all that learning. This session was full and they did not have enough handouts. They were good and eventually got them to us all. I ended up at a seat on the side, so I wasn’t able to participate in the activities that used manipulatives. His solution for Making Sense in Algebra 2: Escape from the textbook! Choose depth over breadth Keep tweaking the course Collaboration makes it possible – His department meets every week and continues to communicate. Their Algebra 2 course is broken into two sections. He showed us the loose organization of […]

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NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – It All Starts with the Tasks 7/29

Friday afternoon, we had three keynote presentations to choose from. I chose to attend “Reasoning and Sense Making: It All Starts with the Tasks,” which was a presentation by W. Gary Martin from Auburn University and Eric Robinson from Ithaca College. Gary has worked on Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards, the NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, and the High School Focus on Reasoning and Sense Making book that we were all given. He is on the task writing group that Eric Robinson chairs. Both gentlemen have a lot of experience writing tasks, including many we are seeing here at the Institute. Mainly here, I have my notes – points they made that I found interesting to think about. I am leaving many of these in “note” form because I had written them as points to consider. Gary spoke first, asking us to consider a problem that asks us to factor a trinomial. He asked us […]


NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – Capturing Perplexity Breakout Session (Dan Meyer) 7/29

I should begin by laying out the following things for the reader –This was an hour and fifteen minute breakout session with Dan Meyer titled Capturing Perplexity. Dan delivered the opening keynote yesterday. Within one minute (I am not kidding) of the dismissal from the Panel Discussion, this session was standing room only. NCTM personnel kicked anyone out without a seat, but not before announcing that Dan had graciously agreed to do this session again in the afternoon in place of a session that had to be cancelled. He later tweeted that the afternoon session was almost full in spite of it only being announced by people on twitter and word of mouth. My notes are a little more sketchy here at times because I was being an active participant in the session. I did really like that Dan had us engaged and we weren’t all looking at packets of problems as I am accustomed to at a workshop. Dan began […]

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NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – Panel Discussion 7/29

Here are my notes from this morning’s panel disucssion, which was titled “How Do I Use Standards to Support Teaching for Reasoning and Sense Making? Students’ Reasoning and Sense Making as the Focus of the High School Classroom in the Era of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics.” The panelists were Ed Dickey (University of South Carolina), moderator, Gail Burrill (Michigan State University, NCTM past president), Jeremy Kilpatrick (University of Georgia), and William McCallum (University of Arizona). First, each of the panelists were given time to present on the topic. Then Ed posed two questions to the panel, which he had emailed to them in advance. Finally, there was some time for audience questions. First up was Gail Burrell. Some of the main points I got from her presentation: What are standards? Are they the curriculum? Or are they? Kids can think and reason, but we don’t let them do that. It’s pretty hard to think and reason with a […]


NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making – Dan Meyer Keynote

I am at the NCTM Institute about Infusing Reasoning and Sense Making into the Classroom in Orlando this week. I have been looking forward to this workshop since I heard about it at the NCTM National Conference at the end of April, especially when I read that Dan Meyer was the opening keynote speaker. I have to say I was not disappointed and was actually very pleased. If you ever have the chance to see Dan present, go. Well worth the price of admission. Rather than sum up everything he talked about, I will hit some of the high points. Some what he presented are parts of blog posts he has done this summer. Dan opened with the story of his favorite horse, Clever Hans. If you are not familiar, Clever Hans is the horse around the turn of the century who could predict the answer of any mathematical question. When researchers tried to figure out what was so special […]

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NCTM11 – Teaching for Reasoning and Sense Making

The first session I attended at NCTM was “Teaching for Reasoning and Sense Making: How Does it Work?” and Fred Dillon, Jenny Salls, and Christine Thomas were the presenters.  I have seen Fred Dillon before and that was part of the reason I chose the session. The other reason I chose it was because the title intrigued me. The pdf of the slides for this session can be found here. Basically what reasoning and sense making does is puts the mathematical skills into practice.  It fits right in with Race to the Top and the Common Core  practices.  I think I remember Fred saying that this really fits in with the first one on the list. We proceeded to work through a problem about fish dying off in a lake and the lake being restocked each year and we were to figure out how many fish were in the lake at the start of the 2nd, 3rd, and 10th years […]

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