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2019 Virtual Math Summit

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 20.  Today we are looking at some of the best PD at Your Fingertips

Today’s episode is a bit different.  To me 20, is a benchmark number so why not do something a bit different at a benchmark.  Plus, I’ve got something special happening that I really want you all to get registered for.

Each summer I bring together some of the best math education presenters to do a completely free online conference for elementary teachers.  I call it the Virtual Math Summit.

The 2019 Virtual Math Summit starts tomorrow, Monday July 29.  So for this episode I thought I’d take a clip from a few of the sessions to give you a preview of the sessions.

There are 39 sessions so if I did a clip of each this podcast would be really long.  I pick just a few of my favorite clips for you to hear.

All the sessions are amazing and range from giving you specific content ideas to more general math teaching pedagogy.  There is something for everyone in the summit so I encourage you to get registered so you can watch the sessions while they are free.  You can register at

Now even though the summit is free to attend, you only have through August 5th to watch the sessions.  After that time they go into the Build Math Minds PD site for members to have access to.  

Membership to the Build Math Minds PD site only opens once a year.  If you are listening to this at the time the podcast gets released it is now open but registration will close August 7.  If you want details about joining BMM, go to

Okay let’s get into the clips.  The first comes from our opening keynote session with Steve Leinwand:

“And so today’s session is really a discussion of great math leaders, the same way we talk about great math teachers, but great math leaders as rebels. But rebels who have purpose. Rebels with a cause for students. And so one way to abbreviate my agenda is to suggest that I’m going to spend about 20 minutes a little less on perspectives that underlie these, um, these thoughts. I want to spend about 10 minutes on feelings and frustrations. I want to give you a reason why we need to be a little fed up, why we need to be frustrated and why our feelings are legitimate when we see some of the things that we see in classrooms all across the country and then spend the last 20 minutes or so on specific actions that I think constitute rebel, subversive, powerful, necessary behaviors. “

And up next here is Dr. Kristopher Childs talking about reimagining what the math classroom could look like and his philosophy about what our math lessons should be like.

“I believe in Thomas Carpenter when he said students bring in a variety of classroom experiences, it’s my responsibility to build upon them. I do Goose Egg, Zero, direct instruction when I’m teaching and I’ve taught everything from kindergarten to postsecondary. No matter what I’m teaching, I go in with a rich task and I build upon the experiences that students are doing and I’m not doing, I do. We do. You do. Your mama do. Your Cousin Do. Everybody do. I’m not doing it. What I want to do is give students opportunities to showcase what they’re thinking, build upon the experience the students bring into the classroom, and some of you are asking what is the DCM method? It’s Dr. Child’s Method. I looked at it like this when I was in Grad school. Every professor had their own method or their own book. I was like, man, when I get my degree, I’m a, I’m a create my own method and put my name on it. So you have the Dr. Child’s Method. I’ve utilized this method across the country. Countless number of classrooms is never fail because, 1) I believe in the students 2) I select rich problem solving task.”

Next you get a little clip from Mandy Jansen. She kind of rocked my world a little bit with her session. It’s all about rough draft thinking in math. So here’s a little bit of insight from her session.

“It’s the idea that sharing, unfinished thinking, sharing, thinking in progress and revising our emerging ideas is what learning is all about. And we have to be willing to keep revising our ideas even when we are correct. We’re not done developing our understanding. Just when we reach a correct answer, we can find a new way to represent something a more concise or elegant way to justify something. So we’re continuing revising our ideas constantly. I think it’s very important to help students see that the opportunity to communicate in a math class is the opportunity to keep learning. Early in my research career, I spent a lot of time interviewing students about what it was like to have an opportunity to talk about their thinking and whole class discussions and in some of these cases students thought that the opportunity to share their thinking was their chance to show if they were smart or not.

They would be called on and if they knew what they wanted to say and they were sure it was correct, they’d feel confident and excited to show people what they knew. But if they were called on and they were not sure, it felt terrifying because what if they were showing people that they weren’t as smart as they wanted to seem? In this sense, they’re thinking about talking during discussions as a final draft, presenting their thinking to perform. But when I was teaching, I really wanted discussions to be a place where we would all continue learning together, the teacher and the students and that’s what rough draft talk is more like exploratory talking to learn.”

Now, Shannon Kiebler’s session. This little clip that I’m gonna play was something that really hit me hard and made me really have to think about was I doing this? Her session during the virtual math summit is all about fostering an equitable math talk community and I’ll just hand it over to her so you can hear it directly from Shannon.

“This idea of be the change as the teacher. So I want students to take each other’s ideas seriously. Then I have to, too, right. I must too. I want students to listen intently to each other’s ideas. Then I must too. I want students to value each idea regardless of correctness. Then I must too. And I, it makes me think of the times, right? Where I’m quickly doing something at my desk or I’m signing a note for someone who’s leaving or I’m multitasking and I’ll go, you know, go ahead Edward, you keep talking. I’ll be right there and students are up there sharing and here I am talking to another student or I’m interrupting another student or multitasking and I’m not showing that respect to them of what you have to say is important. And if they don’t believe what they have to say is important and deserves my full attention, then I have a hard time getting the students getting to give their full attention. And ultimately I shut down that student’s voice because if I don’t have, if they don’t have my full attention, it must not be worth them saying their voice must not be as valuable as I think it is or as I have said it is.”

So for this next clip, I have to admit that when I saw the title that Dr. Nicki submitted for her session, I was a little nervous because she’s talking about leveling your math groups basically. And we all kind of have that a bit of a negative connotation. So I was a little nervous until I got in and got to listen to her session. So I wanted to play a little bit of a clip where she explains what leveling your math groups should really look like.

“And so when we are learning our addition, we’re practicing addition with the kids. The idea to level the lesson means that if you have kids that cannot make 10 then you’re not teaching them to bridge it yet so that you would pull kids together and really work on making 10 and learning those number combinations and then you have other kids that are working on doubles. You pull those kids together, you have other kids that are working on doubles plus one you pull those kids together. That is where you’re teaching kids in a homogenous group just to work on some skills that they need. But other times it’s a heterogeneous group. You pull kids and you say, we’re going to practice modeling facts on the rekenrek and that can be a day where there’s everybody and kids are just working on general facts and you can give facts and have kids working and showing kids. The emphasis of that lesson is to use the rekenrek, it is a general lesson, right? Is how to use a tool or how do we use the 10 frame or you know, whatever it might be. How do we use the cuisenaire rods? But if you are really trying to get at a skill that some kids have and other kids don’t, it’s not to say that they will never be together. And of course when you’re in the whole group, you’re going to be having discussions with children altogether. When you’re in the guided math group, it’s a chance to teach children in their zone. And I will firmly stand by that.”

One of my favorite lines, comes from Michelle Rinehart, and I’m going to play it here in a moment, but her session is about using instructional routines. Now we hear a lot about all these different instructional routines. Do notice and wonder, do number talks, do number strings, all of these things that we could be doing in our classroom. But this clip I think really summarizes the heart of what we should be looking at when we’re trying to choose instructional routines.

“And here’s a takeaway that I’d like us to consider when we’re selecting a routine from this sea of routines. What matters most is not what routine, but instead the type of mathematical thinking that we want to foster. So if we want to develop ideas about equivalence, composition, decomposition, representing numbers flexibly, then today’s number might be a wonderful routine for that. But if we want to develop students ability to compare and contrast, to notice important details, to look for mathematically important similarities and differences and use their math vocabulary then Alike & Different might be a wonderful routine for that. So what I’d have us think about is it’s really not about leading an instructional routine for the sake of the routine. Rather it’s about leading a routine that develops the type of mathematical thinking that we are looking to foster.”

Now the last clip I’m going to share with you, you’re going to get it totally out of context, but it is so hilarious. I started laughing out loud when I heard Tracy Zager say this, and I wanted to play it for you to encourage you to come over and watch her full session so that this clip makes sense. Here it is. 

“I don’t think I’m setting the bar too high when I say could we possibly make it so that at least some of the time in math class, the math that kids are doing is as interesting to them as the math they do when they sit on the toilet. I think we can do that. I think we can make room for kids to Drop Everything And Math, um, and, and do math of their own interest.”

Isn’t that great? Like you seriously it, it is much better in context, but I love sharing it.  It’s one of my favorite lines. If you enjoyed these clips, I’d encourage you to get registered for this year’s Virtual Math Summit so you can watch the full sessions.  We have 39 sessions that you can watch for free for a week. After that week they go into the BMM site for the members to access. But go to to get registered.  Again the sessions are free but only through August 5th and then they go inside the paid Build Math Minds PD site for members to have access.  If you want to become a member, head on over to to join.  Enrollment only opens once a year and right now is your chance, but it closes August 7

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As you start off the school year, I want you to keep in mind what is really important as we're trying to teach mathematics to our students.