Monday, 4 May 2015

A Reflection on the OECTA Math and Technology Conference

My head is still spinning from all the conversations with the many educators that were at the CLC showcase and then after at the conference. A few things stuck out at me, perhaps because they happened last.

My team presented our CLC project at the conference. We were only one of four teams who presented our story. I was so very proud of how far we've come. The time we spent sharing, growing, planning was invaluable. The feedback we received from the educators who attended our session was so very positive. When you are an innovator, sometimes it can be very lonely, but we felt to be in good company at the conference.

One of our key note speakers was Dr. Peter Lilijedahl, I'm still musing over his presentation and of the importance of "building thinking classrooms." It turns out that random groups, the very basis of our project, is one of the three pillars. We also created good tasks, and in a way vertical surfaces when they work with the smart board or do the chart paper on the board, but most of our students still prefer to write horizontally on paper. I'm not sure if I'm ready to remove the furniture and cover my room in whiteboards, but it's definitely food for thought. He also mentioned that engagement is hard to measure, as a Scientist and Mathematician, although I don't like it, as an educator, I believe it.

The other key note speaker who got my mind going, was Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden who mentioned that the research indicates streaming classes don't benefit students. The idea of Growth Mindset opposes streaming as well, how can we peg them in Grade 8? I suppose they can always upgrade, but even high school students will tell me, many of them choose the wrong path and have to reassess in Grade 9 or 10 or even later.

There's so many things I want to try in my classroom, I was dreaming about spiralling Math. I've thought for a long time that the way the Math curriculum is organized into strands makes it so fragmented. I try my best to touch on the many strands, more than just once, but since this is my fifth curriculum in five years, the best I can do is follow the scope and sequence. I will definitely be working on spiralling grade 7 next year, as I get to teach the same thing again.

It was such a wonderful opportunity to share time and space with so many innovating educators. I hope I continue to have these conversations.