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Reflecting on the Northwest Math Conference 2015

October 25, 2015

As I sit on the pool deck eager to watch my son swim, I wanted to write a quick post about the 2015 Northwest Mathematics Conference.

Let me start by saying it was an incredibly well run event in my opinion. Whenever you have over 1000 people in one place attending sessions, organizing lunches, trouble shooting AV equipment and a host of other small and large tasks it is hard to not have a couple of hiccups. I saw very few and that is only possible with a lot of planning for which I am grateful.

So you may be wondering … You went to a conference, what did you get out of it?” A couple of key themes emerge for me:

  1. Mathematics Is Exciting. Trevor Brown – presented a workshop with so much energy and enthusiasm for mathematics it was contagious. I don’t remember the name of his session I just remember his passion and excitement about mathematics. Do you really need more from a session as a teacher or a student of mathematics? Without passion what is there? Some resources that he presented others may like can be found on his article Teaching Mathematics in an Internet World.
  2. Mathematics Is Everywhere – Ron Lancaster’s opening keynote caught me by surprise as we looked at the beauty and wonder of buildings and the mathematics contained within them. This was followed by a closing session by Simon Singh pointing out the mathematics of the Simpsons. I can not imagine two more divergent examples. If mathematics can be found here surely it exists everywhere. Some interesting material posted on the conference site.
  3. Keep Questions Open – This was a recurring theme. While this is not new to me I was struck bu how often it came up during the NWMC15 sessions. In my last session of the conference Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel) shared some insights on how to make close-ended textbook questions more open and exciting for students. I encourage others to check out the conference materials on his blog at Estimation180. Others who also reiterated the importance of not asking closed questions included: Chris Shore, Marion Small, Robert Kaplinski, Janice Novokowski, Carol Fullerton and many more
  4. Connections Matter – I appreciated the change to connect with some passionate mathematics educators I had not seen in several years. In fact there are too many to mention. I have learned from each on of them over the years. These connections were a continual source of ideas and inspiration during the conference. The connections were not limited to face to face interactions as I was also able to connect over twitter. I encourage others to check out #nwmc15 as there is a wealth of information. Connect with others on Twitter, read their blogs and check out their presentations. There is so much to learn.
  5. Stepping Out Of Our Comfort Zone – I have presented at conferences many times. I still get a little nervous excitement whenever I am leading a workshop or presenting a session. I think this is a good thing as it stretches us. I want to thank those colleagues, Lucia Mackenzie, Catherine Cade, Zyoji Jackson and Jim Williams, from SMUS who also stepped outside of their comfort zone to present. We ask students to take risks and share their thoughts. I applaud all of the presenters for their efforts.

I hope to reconnect with everyone on-line or at the conference next year.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 27, 2015 8:50 pm

    Look forward to talking to you about it in person!

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