News from the Central 1 Region
Gwen Zimmermann, Central 1 Regional Director
It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.
Adlai Stevenson II, political leader and diploma
In our respective states, various state assessments have been adopted, and for most of us, we are probably in the process of analyzing those results now. Regardless of how we might feel about the perceived quality of the assessments, the implementation process for the tests, or the usefulness of the data, I would encourage each of us to look at the data with a critical and open eye to see we might glean from it. Too much time, money, and other resources have been devoted to these assessments to not do our best to see what we might learn that will benefit our students and our professional practice. We know that one piece of data alone tells only one part of the story. So where possible, look to triangulate any conclusions that may be drawn with additional data sources.
As leaders in mathematics education, seek to model data coaching through creating a culture that invites inquiry and an honest look at what the numbers reveal. Use data that is meaningful (as much as might be within your control), and always use processes and protocols that create and support conditions for collaboration and risk taking as you and teachers reach conclusions and determine action steps. As a leader, don't be afraid to put yourself out there, especially when it comes to using data. We may not always have the answers and effectively coaching others to use data means taking risks. Don't be afraid of being vulnerable and taking risks. As Stevenson is quoted above, "It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse."
Below are some events in our region that our team leaders wanted to make sure to highlight. For some of the events, registration is still open.:
- MMC Conference - February 6th at Lincoln Way Central High School
- Indiana STEM Education Conference www.conf.purdue.edu/landing_pages/stem2016/index.html
- Connected Mathematics Users Conference - connectedmath.msu.edu/news-and-events/conferences-and-workshops/users-conference/
- Conversations Among Colleagues mi2.cenmi.org/sites/default/files/documents/CaC_Save_the_Date.pdf
- Michigan School Testing Conference (general testing conference but relevant to math educators/leaders) gomiem.org/event/2016-michigan-school-testing-conference
Go to the respective organization websites for more information on these great opportunities.
Here is other news from your team leaders including ways that have shared their expertise and leadership knowledge and skills. Don't hesitate to reach out to any of us to share what we are doing and what we have learned in the process. Remember, NCSM is about networking, communication, support, and motivating others.
- Illinois has joined the ranks of our neighbor, Michigan, in adopting the SAT as the state test for college and career readiness. The first required administration of the SAT will be in the 17/18 school year.
- At the ICTM Conference this fall in Tinley Park Illinois, Jo Boaler gave an incredible keynote presentation on the importance of designing complex tasks for students that allow for a growth mindset in mathematics classrooms. She demonstrated specific tasks she has used with students that are available on her website (youcubed.org).
- Team leader, Steve Shadel, is currently working with teachers to develop a world class curriculum for students that incorporates all of the STEM areas. K - 8 teachers are developing a problem based curriculum that incorporates all of the STEM areas. Students regularly see the connections between CCSS Mathematics, NGSS, Computer Science, 3D printing and Engineering.
- Dr. Edna Bazik was the featured speaker at the Metropolitan Mathematics Club of Chicago on October 2nd, 2015. Dr. Bazik's presentation was titled The 10 Keys to Support Mathematics Understanding. Edna also has served on a variety of PARCC committees during the past few months. Her work has included virtual work online as well as one week face to face meetings. The PARCC committees have included: Math State Content Item Review as well as Rangefinder Math meetings that have focused on CCSS for Mathematics Assessment.
- Tim Blom presented on differentiation at the Minneapolis NCTM Regional this fall. Based upon participant comments and feedback, this is a hot topic right now, and there seems to be a disconnect at times between what classroom teachers are working to accomplish through differentiation and what administrators and evaluators expect to observe in the classroom. Another theme throughout the presentations that Tim attended had to do with the continuing efforts to adjust instruction to more student-centered and inquiry driven lessons. According to Tim's observations, the Math Practices are really gaining some traction.
- Most districts in Indiana, including Tim's, are going through the math resource adoption process. At the same time, the state assessment changed last year to better align with the level of questioning on other "college and career ready" assessments. A lot of Tim's work right now is focused on helping teachers focus on the shifts in expectations in terms of rigor, and work to support them as they seek appropriate resources and tasks.
- As part of a Mathematics and Science Partnership grant, mathematics consultants from around the state of Michigan are participating in Math Recovery® (MR) professional learning. A feature of MR® is that it recognizes that even at an early age, students possess a wide expanse of mathematical knowledge and understanding. The assessment and lesson tools made available through MR® are designed to help teachers identify at-risk students and provide support to teachers so that they can appropriately intervene with strategic instruction. The Michigan consultants are exploring ways to use what they are learning and the tools made available through MR® in an effort to support districts developing systems of support to increase student learning of mathematics.
- A team of mathematics ESL educators has been creating Model Performance Indicators for Common Core mathematics units of study. These indicators provide language supports and differentiation strategies for students at varying levels of language acquisition. They are currently being added in the instructional resources section grades 3-5 mathematics units. They can be viewed at: tinyurl.com/MathSupports
So the chaos of the beginning of the school year can lead us into a rut of managing the day-to-day smoke and fires. How will you ensure that you stay focused on the important leadership work and don't succumb to crossing things off the proverbial checklist? I began with a race-car quote, so it seemed appropriate to stay with the theme. When it comes to staying the course of the critical work of leadership in mathematics education, it seems that racecar driving can remind us of one way to avoid the potholes and detours.
"Race-car drivers know that whatever they look at is where their race-car aims itself. If they look at dangers and walls they will smack right into them. Think like a race-car driver. Don't focus on what you don't want." (author unknown)