NCTM 2013 Denver – A Tweet Summary

I’m normally a prolific note-taker [Note: I’ll be posting about Evernote soon!], but I decided to take a different approach to my NCTM participation this year, and I’m glad I did!

Using Twitter proved to provide multiple benefits.  To name a few:

  • More focused attention
    • I wasn’t distracted by writing constantly.
  • Capturing the essence
    • The 140 character limit has intrinsic benefits.
  • Participating on a global scale
    • Rather than stay isolated in my own notes, tweeting connected me with fellow attendees (sharing ideas & reflections – live!). It also opened the conversations up to those who weren’t able to attend that particular session,  as well as to those who weren’t at the conference.
  • Broadening my Twitter-sphere
    • Many new followers and new people I followed – it’s a gift that keeps on giving!

So here are the tweets (mine and a selection of others via #NCTMDenver) for the sessions I attended (chronological order).  I’ve occasionally added a wee bit of commentary.  Admittedly, I should have taken a few pics along the way, and  I should have tweeted more.  Although nothing can replace being there, and these are but a few tidbits, I hope this offers something worthwhile. [Note: click on the images to view larger, more clearer, size].

2-The Power of Just One Teacher – Mayim Bialik (@missmayim)
Mayim Bialik, the Emmy-nominated actress on The Big Bang Theory and real-life neuroscientist, is on a mission to help educators and parents inspire students to pursue STEM education and careers. Bialik will share her nontraditional journey from child actress to neuroscientist to playing a scientist on TV and working with Texas Instruments.

Oops, slow start.  I actually didn’t tweet any thoughts on this one.  Overall, I did enjoy the session. Mayim was very genuine and engaging, especially during the Q&A. You can view her session here.  And here’s a sampling of others’ tweets:


Thanks to TI, I did get to attend a private reception with Mayim after:


And here’s the pic:


77-I See It: The Power of Visualization – yours truly
What does it mean to “see” the math? Taking concepts that are typically taught only symbolically, we’ll explore tasks that can engage students to reason and to make sense of mathematical concepts through visual representations. The nature of these tasks will include concrete patterning, dynamic graphing, geometric representation, and more.

I’ll post about my session separately.  In the meantime, here’s my handout.

184-Keeping It Real: Teaching Math through Real-World Topics – Karim Kai Ani (@karimkai and @Mathalicious)
How long does burning off a Big Mac take? In basketball, should you ever foul at the buzzer? Explore real-world lessons that teachers can immediately use to address the Common Core State Standards in a fresh, new way. Learn to foster a rigorous understanding of math while challenging students to think about the world more critically.


246-Technology in Support of Proof – Tom Dick
Technology can provide a “conjecture generator,” where we use its power to find mathematical patterns that might lead to the formulation of a conjecture. Proving such a conjecture is often viewed outside the use of technology. We will examine several examples where technology offers powerful hints to mathematical structure that aid in proof.


Caveat: the number of tweets is not necessarily a measure of the quality of a session. For this one I just watched and enjoyed – I’ve long been a fan of Tom’s purposeful and meaningful use of technology.  The highlight was using a TI-Nspire spreadsheet to explore the limit of the ratio of consecutive terms of the Fibonacci sequence (no matter what the first two terms are, even if they’re complex!).


NCTM Trivia / Happy Hour
Come get your beer & trivia on with @desmos, with special guests @mathalicious, and emcee @ddmeyer

Not in the program, but what a great time! We had the whole bar to ourselves and it was packed.  Dan did a fabulous job emceeing.  Best category of trivia: functions expressed through sound! (courtesy of Desmos – an unreleased but very cool feature)


Team π-fection, by the way, was myself, Dona McSpadden, Chris Becker (@ChrisBecker67), and Benjamin Graber (@MathExplorers).

354-Essential Mindsets for Tilling the Soil for the Common Core – Steven Leinwand (@steve_leinwand)
With the game-changing nature of the Common Core State Standards, leadership from all of us is a nonnegotiable element to shepherd and support their implementation. This session will answer the questions, “How should we be positioning ourselves?” and “What must we be doing?” so that we do not squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

POWERFUL session, and Twitter reflected this.  So, here’s a long but not exhaustive list:


411-Keeping Our Eyes on the Prize – Philip Uri Treisman
NCTM has committed itself to equity, with many of us working toward a new generation of mathematics-savvy citizens and STEM professionals representing our diverse population. We need to take stock of the record and take action from the state house to the classroom, so that our vision becomes reality and our hopes for our students are realized.

I wasn’t at this session, but seeing the Twitter feed made me wish that I had been.  You can view his session here.


483 – Take Time to Question the Questions – Mark Howell
With the help of technology, math teachers have a rich array of engaging exploration environments to lay before students. It takes thoughtful reflection, though, to construct meaningful and appropriate questions. We will see activities from algebra, geometry, and calculus and explore what makes a question good.


534 – Creating Opportunities for Students to Engage in Reasoning and Proof – Margaret (Peg) Smith
Although there is a growing consensus that the grades 7–12 curriculum needs greater emphasis on reasoning and proof, research shows that most textbooks offer limited opportunities to engage in these practices. We will focus on how to modify tasks to give students more opportunities to engage in reasoning and proving.


560 – Powerful Online Tools Promote Powerful Mathematics – Eli Luberoff (@desmos) and Patrick Vennebush
The free calculator available from Desmos ( allows for exceptional graphing. Combine this tool with the resources at Illuminations ( to create powerful lessons. Learn how to combine these two resources to craft exceptional mathematical experiences for your students. BYOD, and get ready to get funky.


634 – They’ll Need It for Calculus – Christopher Danielson (@Trianglemancsd)
What ideas do middle school students need for calculus? Maybe not what you think. They need an awareness of change, approximation, and accumulation. We will work middle school tasks that use these ideas, and we will consider how these ideas build into the major ideas of calculus.

An early morning start, but a great crowd showed up. Go here to see Christopher’s blog post about his session.


684 – Tools and Technology for Modern Math Teaching – Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer)
A lot of new tools and technology exist to help our students learn more meaningful mathematics. The question you may have now is, “Which tools deserve our limited time and resources?” I will offer a framework to guide you toward useful tools and more modern math teaching.

Always a must-see, always inspiring, always powerful, always witty, always… you get the idea.


724 – Viral Math Videos: A Hart-to-Hart Conversation – Vi Hart (@vihartvihart) and George Hart
Father and daughter, George and Vi Hart make videos in their own styles with the common goal of showing real, awesome, beautiful math. Vi learned some math from George, and George learned about videos from Vi, and you can learn how they create content that educates, inspires, and makes people want to share.


And that concludes my NCTM 2013 experience, and I’d have to say it was the best NCTM conference I’ve been to (I think this was my 6th).  To the many speakers whose sessions I wanted to go to but could not make it to, I hope to see you next year – #NCTMNewOrleans!


Note: I owe a lot of gratitude to my great friend, Dona McSpadden, who lent me her mifi throughout the conference. The wifi seemed to disappear strangely when going into a meeting room, but I was able to be connected always.  It came in handy for a couple of presenters as well!