Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Conferences and School Visits

While I wasn't able to attend MacWorld this year, I have gone to some terrific mathematics conferences and made some visits to some outstanding schools. Over the years, I've decided that the Northwest Mathematics Conference, hosted on a rotating basis by the Washington State Mathematics Council, the Oregon Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the British Columbia Association of Math Teachers, and the California Math Council-Southern Annual Meeting are two of the best in the country. Both are fairly picky about who they let present (although they have both let me speak, so just how picky remains to be seen) and they are not so overly large that you get shut out of sessions. Probably the hottest speaker on the circuit right now is Dan Meyer  who spoke to packed rooms at both conferences. They put him in huge ballrooms so there is never a problem getting a seat. The annual NCTM meeting can be overwhelming so, if you're on the west coast in the fall, give these great conferences a try.

My school visits consisted of visiting Nido de Aguilas in Santiago, Chile once again, Redwood High School in Larkspur, CA, and, the Cate School in Carpinteria, CA, again. All were interesting and very worthwhile.

Nido has progressed with student-centered-learning to the point where they have actually purchased tables for some classrooms. Moreover, the mathematics department has begun to work with students around tables. They chose to have tables that could be separated into smaller units so students could work in groups of three or four, as well as one group at the large table.

Redwood High School is one of the finest public high schools in Northern California, and has been since it's beginning in 1958. It has been recognized three times as a California Distinguished High School (1990, 1996, and, 2003) and, in 2008, was recognized by the federal government as a National Blue Ribbons Program.

The Cate School is recognized as the best independent secondary boarding school on the west coast. The mathematics department, chaired by Frank Griffin, is innovative and makes excellent use of technology in the classroom. They are using iPads extensively, as well as laptops. While at Cate I was introduced to a great graphing calculator program for both Windows and Macintosh. I though it was powerful, capable of nice 3D plots, and affordable. And, they're working on a iPad version.

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