Carl's Teaching Blog

A place to talk about teaching and learning

Answering the #Shadowcon16 Calls to Action – Part 1

This year at NCTM I had the honor of helping to live tweet the ShadowCon event. I was super pumped to be sitting in the front row to send messages out about Robert Kaplinsky’s talk, as well as all of the others.

Then I flew home, got back on the grind, and dove into my school work and my home life. For a moment I started to forget about the things I learned at the conference. Luckily, the people behind Shadowcon found ways to bring those ideas back up again and again through twitter. One of the ways the ideas from shadow con are supposed to come back is through the website which provides space to respond to each speakers calls to action.

As a way to connect this #MTBoS30 work with #Shadowcon16 calls to action, I am going to use a few of my 30 posts to address the calls to action. I will post the responses on this blog, as well as on the NCTM website.

Robert Kaplinsky Empower

Empower - Call To Action
I was lucky enough to have a chance to empower a new employee last week. The new employee is a recent graduate student who was coming on as a student assistant. Students in this role usually answer the phone, stuff envelopes, and get paid minimum wage, not necessarily take the lead on projects. With this student I decided to try something different, I was going to empower him to be the lead on a big project right from the start. Before we finished telling him where he should store his punch card I led him into a mess of a room that we had all been avoiding for the last two months. This unused office was going to be converted into a conference room, but no one would be able to do it. I walked him back there and said “this is your new project. Sit and think for a while, then tell your plan to make this into a conference room.” 15 minutes later he explained his plan, we talked about the kind of help he would need and what should happen first, and then he went to work. By the end of the week he had finished his plan. He did most of the work without me having to prompt him. He was even comfortable reaching out to custodians and getting them to help move unused tables in our basement up to the 2nd floor.

Giving up the need to control and micromanage a new employee felt scary at first. By the end of the week I fell proud, and hopeful for what could be possible if I empowered people, and focused more on supporting them reaching their goals.

Gail Burrill – Math Is Awesome: Let’s Teach so Our Students Get It


Gail Burrll Call to Action

For Gail Burrill’s talk, the voice I ironically keep hearing is Gail Burrill’s! I saw Gail Burrill at the Minnesota Regional in a talk about statistics and I keep thinking about some of her quotes. Specifically:

As I am getting into this statistics unit I have noticed that lots of kids rarely question the average, as if it is a one-size-fits-all answer for any question you might have about a data set. I have been talking about some of the examples where merely having a measure of center would not be enough, but I have drifted towards discussion of the outlier, which I think students clearly understand. To deepen the conversation about spread, I am going to use Gail’s voice again and look at the lesson that was demonstrated at the conference with my class next week.




Searching For Fraud – Fun group data analysis activity for MMMR review


This Week: Spread Pretty Thin


  1. I love what you’re doing here. This feel like you are so much more likely to turn these presentations into action from simply worthwhile ideas. Thanks for sharing. I’m feeling inspired.

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