Kirstin Gray’s Shadowcon Talk

A conversation I was having with Michael Pershan on Twitter today included this tweet:

I’d watched the talk when it was originally published but took Michael’s lead went back and watched it a few more times yesterday. It definitely has me thinking.

It is certainly clear right from the beginning of the talk that we have many thoughts in common:

“I am genuinely curious about the content I teach and how I teach it.”

“I am genuinely curious about my students’ math conversations.”

“I am genuinely curious about the math work my students do each day.”

I also share her thirst for conversations about math. Similar to what she’s describing around 3:10, I’m constantly looking for new ideas to share with the boys on twitter, from blogs, and just about anywhere I can find something. It amazes me how many great math ideas and projects are out there if you just look!

Her discussion about fractions and twitter reminded me of an experience I had when I was talking about dividing fractions with my younger son. In our video that day I introduced the topic to him by defining division as multiplication by the reciprocal. That was one of the few videos I’ve put out that generated some negative reactions (it is MathProblems81 on youtube if you are interested), so I searched for a different explanation:

So, maybe not exactly the active search for advice that she is describing, but my thinking was certainly influenced by the advice on twitter in this case.

Around 5:30 in the talk she’s discussing wanting to know what her students think about topics using “talking points,” “always, sometimes, never” and by just asking them what they know. The specific part about decimals reminded me of how I began the decimal and fractions unit with my younger son last fall. Her comments from her students also reminded me of some of the ideas my son had (“I don’t think fractions are rational” for example):

Also, we just happened to do a little “always, sometimes, never” game with quadrilaterals earlier this week! Maybe watching her talk the first time around planted that seed:

Finally, the comment from her student about fractions in fractions reminded me of one of our old continued fractions projects. I love continued fractions – they are a great way to sneak in a little extra fraction practice while showing a really interesting math topic (and they also remind me of my high school math teacher who taught them to me):

Continued fractions and the square root of 2

This part shows how fun the topic can be (starting at 6:30 just in case it doesn’t embed properly): “ohhhh . . . that’s cool”:

Finally, her call to action is to start a math journal. My journal consists of the videos that we put out (almost) every day and this blog. I love using the videos to back and seeing how each kid’s thinking has changed over the years (and how my thinking and teaching has evolved, too). Sometimes things like Kirstin Gray’s talk remind me of old projects and I can review how we approached similar ideas. So, I definitely agree that starting a math journal is a great way to help you reflect about your own teaching and learning.

So, thanks to Michael Pershan for the suggestion to look more carefully at Kirstin Gray’s talk, and thanks, of course, to her for giving this amazing talk. It definitely made me think.