August 16, 2017

What I Am Doing with NCTM

Here's an update on my current roles within NCTM and where I could use some help!

1) Publishing Committee
2) Portal
3) Booth

1) As a member of the publishing committee I help oversee the journals as well as the books published at NCTM. During my tenure on the committee the journals will be transitioning from 3 grade band journals to one preK-12 journal. The new journal will be published monthly (more than current), be longer than any of the current journals and provide the opportunities to make vertical connections as well as continue to publish grade specific content. I'm pretty excited about it and already hosted one impromptu conversation on what people would like to see from the new journal. I will continue to solicit feedback on the transition as well as make announcements as information becomes finalized. At this point the panel is forming so discussion of what features will remain or be added hasn't even begun.

Despite the lack of someone to submit it to, I have a proposal in to restart Dialogues. This will definitely be happening in some form because the proposal started before I joined and I'm so excited about it that I won't let it fall to the wayside even if it ends up only being an online feature. Dialogues was an occasional feature in the News Bulletin from 1998 - 2002 where researchers would present opposing sides of an issue such as standardized curriculum or calculators. Then people would respond to the research. Ralph kindly dug some examples out of his personal archives since they predate NCTM's digital archives. For the revival we are imagining a sequence of blog post by researchers, comments and tweets by practitioners, article and highlighted comments in the journal, continued conversation online and maybe even a letter to the editor or two. This whole process would take a few months so we would do four a year. Going back to topics like calculators and curriculum would be fascinating, as well as addressing other issues like homework and grading that we all debate constantly.

My final task on the committee is books. We reviewed older books in the catalog and considered what new books are coming up. It is a challenge to balance providing a variety of books with limiting ourselves to only what will sell. The book writing/editing/publishing process at NCTM is speeding up as we put new systems in place but it's still a multi-year process so we have to consider carefully what topics are best suited for books. If you feel like we have a significant gap in our catalog please let me know, hopefully we have a book coming up to fill it. If not, I can suggest a topic at our next meeting. We also review proposals as well as complete manuscripts by anyone that submits them, so that's an option if you want to be the author rather than the reader.

2) I'm really excited for the as of yet unnamed portal. A space to chat with NCTM members sounds nice but not so different from twitter. Topic focused forums would be better than twitter for some things. For example, I suggested that people turn their blog post or presentation into an article but you're not really sure what I meant by that. Instead of tweeting to your followers or to me (since I've never submitted an article either) wouldn't it be great if there was a forum for article ideas and advice where frequent authors checked in to mentor new authors?

What I'm most excited about is the chance to organize resources. If you do any yarn crafting you might be familiar with Ravelry. It's an awesome space where I can chat with other crafters (there's even a specific math forum!), share my projects, save patterns with searchable tags, bundle related patterns, make a queue of projects I plan to complete, read reviews and see examples of patterns made with different yarn, in different colors or in a different size. Can you imagine what that would be like if you replaced pattern/project with lesson? In order to convince NCTM to build all these features we have to use whatever we have in October so get ready to join me there!

3) Starting with the NCTM annual conference in Boston spring of 2015, the #MTBoS has had a booth at most regional and annual conferences. This fall we are looking for people in Orlando and Chicago, then Washington D.C. in the spring. All of the information about how to run a booth is written out and most of the work is done. The box will show up by magic (aka the math forum) so we need a couple people to be in charge (at least one needs to be there early to set up so being local would be best) and a group of volunteers. Let me know if you want to help! If you can't be there (or you can but want to do this too) it would be great if someone wanted to update some of the printouts. The ones we have work great but there are certainly newer things to highlight and changes in some of the older ones. Comment, tweet, email tina.cardone1 on gmail, smoke signal... contact me however if you want editing access on any of those files!

August 15, 2017

What You Can Do for NCTM

So I convinced you yesterday that NCTM is worth paying attention to. Now what? In order for NCTM to continue it needs members, active members. My first three suggestions support NCTM at a basic level and you get something out of those steps too. The next three ideas involve a bit more work but are still quite manageable with a full time job.

1) Join
2) Vote
3) Share
4) Review/Referee
5) Write
6) Volunteer

1) You'll need to be a member of NCTM to do almost all of these other things (except #5 and parts of #3). Right now you can save 20 dollars on membership by using the code "BTS20" before you pay. Membership to my affiliate only costs $20 so go ahead and spend the money you save to join your affiliate too! If your budget doesn't allow for you to join there are some options. First, ask your school. Share some of the reasons in my last post and promise to share with the rest of the department. If that doesn't work, tiered membership is coming in January which will be more affordable. You could also join just your affiliate for now. Bonus of joining your affiliate - they're asked to volunteer at regional and national conferences in that state.

2) Now that you're a member you get voting rights as well as all the other stuff. You have to be a member by August 31 to vote this year. Check out the candidate list and then start researching and campaigning to be sure NCTM is heading in the direction you want.

3) Make good use of all the resources you're paying for as well as the free ones. Remember all that stuff I shared? Go use it! Then, talk about it. Tell your colleagues about the good stuff. Ask questions (on twitter or eventually on the forums) about how to adapt something to fit your students. Discuss articles and books in twitter chats or webinars. The best advertising isn't the targeted advertising that creepily follows you to different websites (although NCTM got a non-profit grant from google which doubled their advertising budget so that's coming soon) but word of mouth. Talk about the resources and more people will want to join this cool organization! Also, you know how I said it was easier to google stuff than search on NCTM's website? They pay for every click on that ad above the results so skip down to the top result and click there instead to save them a few cents.

4) Part of what makes NCTM's journals great is that they are peer reviewed (we call these referees). You could be that peer! There are some clear guidelines and the editors I met were both great people who will help you out if you need it. Plus there's a multi-step process with multiple referees reporting to a panel member so you're definitely not on your own to make decisions. We are going to start choosing among the reliable journal referees to help with editing manuscripts on the book end of the publishing committee so if you get your reviews in on time you might get rewarded with the opportunity to do even more work! Seriously though, the opportunity to read articles and books as well as hone your writing skills is a valuable one if it interests you. Sign up!

5) What we need even more than referees is writers. At the publishing committee meeting the journal editors shared that they used to start their day by reviewing all of the submissions they received in the past twenty-four hours. Now they start their day by crossing their fingers they will find any submissions. Monday is their favorite day of the week since most people submit over the weekend. They are barely getting enough submissions to fill the reduced number of issues this year. A journal article isn't so very different from a blog post. Perhaps you could take one of your more popular old posts and refresh it with new ideas from this year (including getting high quality photos of student work if applicable). Or you could turn you most recent presentation into an article. You already did all the research and organization, why not give your work a broader audience? NCTM provides details on how to submit.

6) There are a few more opportunities to volunteer but if you've ever wondered how to get more involved with NCTM I'm going to be blunt - you have to know somebody. This is my biggest criticism of the organization and I will continue making it clear that this is not an acceptable method of running an organization. First of all, you won't get diversity of anything (thought, perspective, experience, ambition) if you only invite people in your circle to work with you. But also, people have a lot of responsibilities. If you ask your committee members to do their committee work and also review session proposals and seed the forums and edit materials and and and... I'm they're going to quit. There's a reason my new year's resolution was "just say no." When I declined to review proposals I did so with a pointed email saying there are tens of thousands of members, I'm sure someone would be thrilled to volunteer for such a task if only they were given the opportunity to volunteer. So when I showed up to NCTM headquarters Peg helped me corner David Barnes and we discussed that the current volunteer form is just for committees. But committees are a three year commitment so they really can't take in an entirely unknown entity for a major position. David said if we (this 'we' includes you, dear reader) can come up with more volunteer opportunities he would get the form changed to include other ideas. So, how could you imagine contributing? What would you like to do for or with NCTM? What should be added to the form?

p.s. NCTM has an Amazon Smile account. You can donate while you shop!

August 14, 2017

What NCTM Does for You

Image result for nctmI spent a few days at the beginning of the month at NCTM headquarters. This is the second time I've visited and I learned a lot about NCTM as an organization as well as my particular charge as a member of the publishing committee. NCTM is not in an ideal space as an organization, Matt Larson acknowledges that in his most recent letter and everyone I spoke to was eager to make changes. This wasn't a broad "we need to fix this somehow" either, people are aware of what some of those changes need to be and how to achieve them. One of my favorite moments was when I was talking about the search function on the NCTM site and trying to say nicely that it needs improvement. Kevin (current board member) interrupted me to say that it's terrible and a running joke (with the sting of truth) at board meetings is that it's easier to google to find something on the NCTM site than it is to use the embedded search bar. Carl, Andrew and I were invited there on purpose. But so were Peg SmithChris Suurtamm and Laurie Cavey. The balance between research and practice, bloggers and published authors was fascinating and educational. Beth, the senior editor of NCTM's practitioner journals, is also a professional twitter chat leader. NCTM is making progress that is very obvious from an insider's perspective. I hope to make that perspective a bit more accessible in a series of three posts. Today's post "What NCTM Does for You" will be followed by "What You Can Do for NCTM" and "What I'm Doing with NCTM." None of this is to say that NCTM is perfect and you should stop complaining. Quite the contrary - please keep pushing and sharing ideas for improvements upon NCTM's structures, they're listening. I'm listening. 

So, why might you care about this giant organization that is slow to change? Here are four reasons:

1) Advocacy
2) Resources
3) Community
4) Professionalism

1) Whether you join it or not, NCTM is the professional organization representing math teachers in this country (and Canada). When they make a statement, it is on behalf of all of us. "NCTM constantly monitors legislative and policy developments in Washington with the assistance of Washington Partners LLC. The monthly Capitol Report is a concise timely overview of legislative and policy issues of particular interest to mathematics educators and education." An increase in membership would increase the power of the advocacy sector of NCTM two-fold. One, when lobbyists say they represent an organization of 60,000 professionals that's powerful, imagine the power of an organization of over 100,000 professionals (as NCTM was in its prime). Two, more members means more money to spend on advocacy projects. What would you like to see NCTM take a firm stance on?

2) I mostly think of the things I get when I consider what NCTM is or does. I get the Mathematics Teacher journal (with membership, or to purchase by issue without membership). I get Illuminations and ARCs lessons and interactives (free for everyone). Sometimes there are helpful compilations of all of the above: first days of school. Even without a compilation I know that all of the materials I find from NCTM are high quality. In addition to teaching materials there are also other resources including books, blogs, webinars, grants for curriculum work, a job board and more!

3) Before social media exploded, professional organizations were one of the few ways to build community. We can have a lot of our collaborative needs met in other ways now, but there's something to be said for the broader community available through a large, long standing organization. Attending conferences is a quality way to learn what's new in research, what modifications people have made to make past research work, what's new in tech... Plus it's an opportunity to hang out with other people who get what its like to spend most of your professional life as the only adult in the room! If you can't make it to an in person conference fear not, you'll be able to form communities online soon. The online portal (yet to be named) will open in October. On multiple occasions we have wished for a space where we could organize all of the resources we find around the internet into lessons, units or curriculum. The problem was this was always too big of a project for a group of full time educators to take on. NCTM has the structure and funding to make this happen. It will begin as a simple forum but as more people join and request features I have faith it will turn into the amazing tool that I've been dreaming of since I got a sneak preview of the proposal in May.

4) NCTM embodies professionalism in the ways that it represents the work of teachers. But it also gives me some opportunities to grow as a professional on
 a career path that doesn't involve leaving the classroom. People outside of education see administration as the next step from classroom teacher. NCTM offers presenter, committee member, content developer, author, advocate and so many more titles that can support teacher growth while keeping them in the classroom.

p.s. I was researching car insurance because Jordan is getting her license this year(!) and discovered Geico has a discount for NCTM members. Surprise bonus! Who knows what else NCTM can do for you?

July 14, 2017

Nines Trick Unveiled

A while back John Stevens asked me if I would write a guest post for Table Talk Math. Of course I was happy to do so. I knew I wanted to share the process of exploring a trick to figure out the math behind it so parents would be encouraged to engage their kids in asking why and building on conceptual knowledge rather than being tempted to tell kids a procedure. After some considering I opted against any of the tricks in the book and I decided on the nines trick. You know the one where you use your fingers? This one:

Image result for 9 multiplication finger trick

I had a great time figuring out why it works and I don't want to rob you of that opportunity to explore! After you've played feel free to read my guest post and leave a comment if you explained it differently.

July 13, 2017

Box of Books

On my last post Michael commented: "I'd be interested to hear your take on something like the junior high activities book, the one with the soccer ball on the cover. It just seems to me that all these math edu books essentially recycle the same core group of tasks. We're going to have a visual pattern. We're going to have the area model. We're going to have that thing with the sultan and the penny and the chess board. It's not like there are THAT many different types of tasks. That's how it seems to me, at least. But I'd be interested to see whether anything in the book of activities feels 'new' to you."

This post comes in two parts:

Part 1) I'm on the publishing committee for NCTM, let me tell you about the beginning of the process of reviewing books from NCTM's catalog
Part 2) Do you want some books? I have a variety of thoughts on how to get them to you cheap!

Part 1:
For my first task as a committee member I reviewed old books (5n years old where n is a whole number) to decide if they should continue printing, update and print a new edition, or retire the book.

What the review process looks like
I started by looking at sales data for the past five years. It was hard to know what "typical" sales are since I only have data for books five or more years old so I focused more on trends. I did note what sales were in 2017 for books that weren't clearly best sellers or really low for continued reference. When taking a second look at each book I was able to put those numbers in more context, for example one book is for PD leaders so it has a much smaller audience and the lower numbers aren't so concerning.

Interestingly that book was the oldest one I reviewed, published in 1999. And Michael was right, flipping through I saw the locker problem, foxy fives, cryptograms and M&M data. All excellent problems, ones I've used and great to have in your repertoire. But while reviewing this book (and some others in the pile) I wondered, how often do people use books like this now that the internet exists? NCTM has a ways to go to get their website running at full capacity (I got a secret preview of a proposed upgrade that looks awesome!) but even still people can search the NCTM site to find the journal articles that this book is composed of. Plus they can search all the blogs and other lesson compilation sites. I don't turn to books for lesson ideas but there must be others who do because the catalog has a variety of updated versions of this book and around 40 people bought this one in 2017.

Surrounded by books!
In reviewing my comments I noticed I wrote a contradictory note about another book, saying, "quality intro based on research, filled with tasks (bonus- people might pay more attention to journals since many tasks are from journals)." I wonder which is true? Maybe both? If people buy a book referencing journal articles will they be more likely to look to NCTM journals next time rather than a book?

In the end I marked my 20 books as follows: 8 Reprint as Needed, 7 Do Not Reprint (a few focused on the transition to CCSS and books with similar content in newer books already in the catalog) and 5 Revise or Replace (one of which already has a new volume available). I'm a bit unclear on what happens with the DNR's. As the child of medical professionals DNR means leave be for now but no drastic life saving measures.
But in reading the outline it sounds like DNR means remove from the catalog no matter how many are left in stock and maybe sell them on clearance at conferences. I'm hoping some of them go on clearance online first as we have lots left in stock, as a print on demand author this idea of ordering thousands of books at a time and hoping for the best is a new one to wrap my hear around. I can't wait to find out what the rest of the committee thinks in August!

Part 2:
A while back I proposed a book swap but no one seemed excited about that idea, or at least there aren't any books posted with our hashtag yet. So I'm going to post books here that I am willing to bring to TMC. Everything that isn't claimed will be posted on the book swapping site.

Books I reviewed (the other 9 were eBooks):

  • Activities for Junior High School and Middle School Mathematics, Vol. 2
  • Learning and Teaching Measurement: 2003 Yearbook with Classroom Activities Companion Book
  • Thinking and Reasoning with Data and Chance: Sixty-eighth Yearbook of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2006) (Book and CD-ROM)
  • Learning of Mathematics, The: Sixty-ninth Yearbook of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2007) 
  • Mathematics Teaching Today: Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics, revision (Claimed by Peg)
  • Making Sense of Mathematics: Children Sharing and Comparing Solutions to Challenging Problems
  • Mathematics Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning (Claimed by Nita)
  • Professional Collaborations in Mathematics Teaching and Learning: Seeking Success for All- 74th Yearbook (2012)
  • The Common Core Mathematics Standards: Transforming Practice Through Team Leadership 
  • Bridging the Gap Between CCSS and Teaching Statistics
  • Eyes on Math: A Visual Approach to Teaching Math Concepts

Books published this year I've received:

  • Unpacking Fractions (Claimed by Casey)
  • Reasoning and Sense Making in the Mathematics Classroom: Grades 3-5
  • Reimagining the Mathematics Classroom
  • Reflective and Collaborative Processes to Improve Mathematics Teaching (Claimed by Glenn)
  • Taking Action Grades 6-8 (Claimed by Casey)
  • Taking Action Grades 9-12 (Claimed by Peg)
  • JRME: Children's Measurement
  • Good Questions, Third Edition
  • Access and Equity Grades 6-8 (Claimed by Marian)

If you would like a book that isn't on my list or one that someone else claimed we can order another box of books to be delivered to TMC! Shipping is expensive from NCTM but not much more expensive for several books than a single book. Megan has graciously offered to receive the package since she's nearby, just comment here with what books you'd like and I will order them. Since shipping takes time I will place the order on Monday July 17, so spend your weekend picking out books!

I plan to suggest to NCTM that something like this service be made available via coupon code for other small conferences, I'm imagining you would enter the code and the cost of shipping is drastically reduced and the address automatically changed to the conference organizer's choice of address. No idea if this is doable but it would be cool to allow small conferences the chance to sell books like NCTM conferences do without having to send merchandise back and forth. And of course you can always do this with your local network of friends, tweet out to anyone nearby that you're about to place an order and see if they want to split the cost of shipping with you. Not sure who is nearby? Check out the map! Not on the map? Add yourself!

Don't forget to comment with what book(s) you'd like. If you're not attending TMC feel free to claim books too, I'm happy to ship via media mail. Also leave a comment if you have any ideas I can share with the publishing committee next month! [Edit: comments are having trouble making it through, feel free to tweet instead @crstn85]