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Last week, I had the privilege of being allowed to take my road show to Saskatoon, SK. I presented at, and more importantly, I got to attend SUM2014, the annual conference for math educators in Saskatchewan.

It came at a time when I really needed it. It was a great two days hanging out with math educators. I learned a lot, and had a lot affirmed.

Steve Leinwand‘s keynote was a joy. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing him speak, check out this presentation (from another conference). As Dan Meyer says, “this guy breathes fire.”

Other highlights for me were:

  • Reconnecting with David Coffey and Kathryn Coffey, who I first met two years ago in Edmonton.
  • David and Kathryn’s session on literacy and math. We’re into that here in Alberta, too, so it was timely.
  • Meeting Nat Banting in person. Watch this kid. He’s a rising star in math education.
  • Reconnecting with Park Star. I now know (and remember) her real name, but it’s more fun to pretend I don’t.
  • Meeting Lisa Lunney Borden. We only had a few moments to chat over breakfast and before the conference started, but now I know about CMESG, which I think I will attend.
  • Briefly disengaging from David Coffey’s session on engagement and convincing the woman beside me to join Twitter.
  • I enjoyed my sessions. Some of the participants were kind enough to let me know they did too. That kind of feedback is always appreciated. Keep in touch.
  • Having supper with Steve, Anne, David, Kathryn, Nat, Michelle, Jacquie and Allison. It was a great meal, and I got Leinwand’s ear to myself for a bit. His bloggable advice on the current math debate is to build bridges. Connect with math professors. Listen to each other. He’s wise. He’s been through this before. I appreciated him listening to me.
  • Steve Leinwand referred to me in the closing session as “That dude from Alberta.” I felt like I had arrived.
  • A panel discussion with (L-R) Kathryn, David, Me, Steve. Terry Johanson was also on the panel, but we took this before we started (notice Steve’s engagement level), and she wasn’t there yet.


We ended with Steve Leinwand modelling practice. One of the panel questions was “How do you coach or teach subversively?” We all answered (except me – my voice was gone). Then Michelle was wrapping up. She asked the audience if they had any questions. They didn’t. There was time left. Steve jumped up, asked the audience to take 2 minutes to share their conference “take-aways” with a neighbour. Then he asked them to share back with the whole group. One person shared back something he learned in my session, thereby earning a beer on me next time I’m in town. Other people shared what they learned. Steve took over the wrap up and modelled a large group reflection. That’s subversive coaching, right there, folks.

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 36,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Book List

I haven’t read this book, but I intend to, based solely on the quote below. I’m intrigued.

There are some kids growing up with way too much adversity in their lives and what they need more than anything is protection from that adversity. And then we have other kids, especially kids who grow up in affluence, who just don’t have enough adversity in their lives. I think that is a hard message for parents to hear… In trying to protect them from adversity, we can sometimes be doing more harm than good.

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Jeff Johnson Talk

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a small meeting at which Alberta’s Education Minister, the Honourable Jeff Johnson was invited to speak. He left me hopeful. He spoke openly and without seeming like he was reading a canned speech. He seemed intelligent and it was obvious he has been doing his homework in his new portfolio.

Johnson said a few things that really stuck with me. I’m not quoting directly, but paraphrasing from what I wrote down and remember.

  1. We need to blur the line between secondary and post-secondary education.
  2. In a competency-based system, the zero is irrelevant.

He also mentioned the things he believes the public wants more than anything else.

  1. They want to know that kids are earning their way through school. There should be no free passes.
  2. They want to know that there are competent educators in front of their kids.

It sounds to me like the guy has a pretty good handle on what is going on in Alberta right now. I’m encouraged.

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An email came out from Alberta Education yesterday announcing that the -3 math stream in Alberta (equivalent to the Trades and Workplace stream elsewhere in the WNCP) has seen wide acceptance from the trades. I know the fellow working on this at Alberta Education had a huge job. He had to get all 49 (or so) trade boards to set their requirements, one at a time. He has done a great job, though, because if you take a look at this nice, one page summary, you will see that there has been tremendous acceptance of this stream. His diligence and persistence have paid off.

You can see that the minimum requirement for most of them is Math 10-3 or Math 20-3. It also looks like having these courses will mean students don’t have to write the entrance exam. This is fantastic news for our kids.

Four trades still need to make their decisions. Once those decisions have been made, they will be posted here.

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Happy New Year

Resolution: Write shorter blog posts.

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Sketchpad Explorer

Somebody tweeted last week that The Geometer’s Sketchpad was free for iPads until September 1. I have never been a fan of GSP, preferring to use GeoGebra instead, but I installed it mostly because it was free. I tried it out, and it turns out it is pretty darn good.

You can get the free Sketchpad Explorer on the iTunes App Store. I have no idea what it will cost after September 1, but I’d pay for this app. You can’t create GSP applets with it, but you can view and explore already created ones. The app comes built-in with a series of Algebra, Geometry and Elementary applets. The built-in ones are really nice. A slope one is shown below.

I think the real power, though, is in the Sketch Exchange site, where you can download and transfer applets built for the iPad to your device. It is easy to do this through iTunes once you download the applets from the exchange site. This exchange site will only grow and have more and more available applets over time. Two screenshots are shown below.

Recommendation: Get this app.  You can’t beat the price.

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