Region W2 Report - Fall 2011


Western 2 Regional Director's Report
Hope Bjerke
Fall 2011

School started in mid-August for most everyone here in Northern California. Even though we are still having HOT weather, there is the hope of cooler days to come and the excitement of fall celebrations. I hope you are having a great start for your school year and are planning to attend one of the mathematics conferences in your area.

Three of our largest regional conferences are set for this fall. The Northwest Mathematics Conference returns to Portland, Oregon, on October 13 - 15 and will be held at the Red Lion Hotel at Jantzen Beach. Michael Shaughnessy, Mathematics Professor at Portland State University and current NCTM President, will be the keynote speaker on Thursday. Other notable speakers will be Irving Lubliner, Professor and Mathemagician from Southern Oregon University, Kim Sutton, Greg Tang, Barbara Novelli, James Burnett and Judith Hillen. You can register on-line at or

California Mathematics Council - South Conference 2011 will be held at the Convention Center in exciting Palm Springs on November 4 - 5. The program will focus on Building Student Mathematical Identity Through Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. There are hundreds of sessions, each one 90 minutes long, starting at 8:30 each day and offered at four different time slots. Some of the featured speakers are: Harold Asturias, Sasha Barab, Jo Boaler, Kyndall Brown, Heather Calahan, Patrick Callahan, David Foster, Linda Gojak, Susie Hakansson, Bill McCallum and Dan Meyer. You can check out the program details and register on-line at

Finally, California Mathematics Council - North Conference 2011 will be in Pacific Grove, CA, at the beautiful Asilomar Conference Grounds on December 2 - 4. Grow with STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is the theme and features a special Teachers Teaching with Technology Conference within the conference. There is also an additional Friday afternoon mini-conference with Laura Choate, Linda Gojak, Ruth Cossey, Joshua Zucker, Scott Farrand, Tim Kanold and Gail Burrill. Details of the program and registration opportunities are at Cathy Seeley, Alan Shoenfeld and David Dockterman are the keynote speakers.

I get to attend the Northwest Mathematics Conference in Portland in October and I am so excited. I look forward to meeting with many of you and talking about the benefits of NCSM membership. And I will also be at the Asilomar Conference in December helping with the program and talking about NCSM. I hope to see you at a conference soon.

I am pleased to close with a report sent to me by Patty Sandoz, our Regional Leadership Team member from Oregon. Patty was one of the organizers for the Oregon Math Leaders Conference held in August in McMinnville. It sounds like the meeting was very successful and Patty says "It was the BEST EVER!" I hope you get some good ideas for your area from reading this.

2011 Oregon Math Leaders Conference-OML

The theme for the annual math leaders conference was OML R & R: Relevant and Real. The co-chairs, Patty Sandoz, Cheri Clausen, and Marilyn Harlow, desired to make this year's conference relevant for all the participants. And what could be more relevant than a focus on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and how the new standards would soon enough become real to all of Oregon's students and teachers? Let us count the ways OML R & R was relevant and real!

R & R: Ritual and Rejoice

The ritual of the Awards Ceremony gives us opportunity to rejoice in the efforts of special folks who have given so much to Oregon's math education community. Jan Gillespie was honored as this year's recipient of the Mildred Bennett Elementary Math Education Award. Lynn Bonser and Winnie Miller are co-recipients of the Oscar Schaaf Secondary Math Education Award.

R & R: Readymade and Replicable

The main focus of the OML conference was to get everyone up to speed on understanding the Common Core State Standards. To implement any part of CCSS means understanding the structure of and implications for CCSS. Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Northwest Regional Lab's Comprehensive Center, created professional development materials. These materials break down the CCSS into understandable, do-able components. The result is that the teachers walked away feeling much better about the coming seismic shift in teaching and learning mathematics created by the CCSS. For K-8 teachers, the materials used at OML focused on understanding the critical areas, clusters, and standards of CCSS as well as engaging in activity that matched the CCSS clustered content standards with Oregon's core standards. Turns out they match up pretty well! In fact, to use some math, there's about 66% match! Since the CCSS high school standards are organized differently, the focus for the teachers of 9-12 at OML was a study of the conceptual categories and course pathways.

The larger CCSS focus at OML was on the mathematical practices-those practices to implement for all students regardless of the content standards beginning with this current school year. In fact, the eight mathematical practices are based on a combination of the NCTM process standards and the proficiency standards of the National Research Council's Adding It Up. The practices were built into a math activity called "Interpreting Distance-Time Graphs" pulled from the Math Shell Center's website

R & R: Rest and Relax

OML was not all grinding away at hardcore tough stuff. OML-ers got to rough it with dorm food and stay up late chatting and commiserating with roommates and math buddies for a little bit of relaxation. Then the math campers climbed (literally) into bed past lights out time-all without a counselor nagging at the campers-for a little bit of rest!

R & R: Reason and Ruminate

New this year to the OML experiences were Musical Mingle Math and Math Walk. The Musical Mingle Math activity challenged the OML-ers to reason through puzzles involving Pythagorean Theorem, similarity, spatial orientation, and algebraic thinking all the while being fueled by light beverages, snacks, and mathematical tunes. The Math Walk took participants outside to explore the gorgeous Linfield College campus through a mathematical lens. Where's the math in the fountain?

R & R: Raise-the-roof and Rabblerouse

No Oregon Math Leaders conference experience is complete without some raising the roof and rabblerousing! The kick off to the conference began with Ignite OML! Attendees received a fast-paced welcome, introduction, and overview to OML and OCTM from seven OCTM and OML folks giving three-minute talks using ten powerpoint slides set to auto-advance every fifteen seconds! The Array of Area Activities issued a challenge to the OML-ers for showcasing during the annual Monday night Skit and Social.

NASA is seeking bids for needed projects for space travel. NASA is concerned that with the scuttling of the shuttle program and the STEM Standards of CCSS not yet fully implemented, the United States is losing its creative edge. NASA now needs to creatively solve many problems concerning traveling and living in space as well as exploring the great universe of Infinity!
Recently there was a war in Washington DC called the Government Hill Battle-a battle to raise the debt ceiling, cut spending through tax and entitlement costs, and/or increase the taxes on the "Haves" of the country. One of the cuts targeted the Research and Development Department of NASA. This has forced NASA to look towards the private sector of Oregon Council of Teachers of Mathematics' fourteen areas to tap into their mathematical creativity and ingenuity and frugality. Sadly, there is no longer any money for $1000 toilets. This loss of government funding means the building materials are what they are-items from the Grocery Outlet store in Ontario, Oregon. NASA can now only afford to purchase knock-off versions of graham crackers, Oreo cookies, gum drops, pretzels, and so on.

The OML-ers created a song or skit using their area number to make a pitch to special guests, the NASA panel of experts (the OML team of registrars, treasurer, and co-chairs). The team that won the NASA "contract" was Area Seven! The OML-ers then went on to party hardy with math games created by Elaine Rozell.

R & R: Reflect and Reinvigorate

The dynamic and irrepressible Irving Lubliner closed OML 2011 with a talk that caused all of us to reflect on the mathematics behind coin tricks while reinvigorating us for the challenges of the next school year. Irv is the breakfast speaker October 15 at the Northwest Math Conference in Portland.

R & R: Rejuvenate and Renew

One of the great features of the annual OML conference is colleagues spend time with each other in an informal setting networking with other math enthusiasts. The conference connects old friends with new, building a support system in a rejuvenating experience and thus continuing the vision of Don Fineran, the Oregon Department of Education's math specialist and visionary creator of OML. Our network of math colleagues and friends will prove to be our renewing support as we begin this journey with CCSS.

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