Nebraska Teachers Attend National Conferences

Paula Millerd
Paula Millerd

The latter half of 2011 saw several K-12 teachers associated with NebraskaMATH attending national conferences.

In early October, Paula Millerd, Noyce Master Teaching Fellow and math coach at Field Club Elementary in Omaha Public Schools, attended the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) fourth National Forum. Millerd was one of three panelists at a Plenary Session titled "Teachers' Perspectives on Teacher Education." The panel of teachers discussed what they wished they had learned in college and what they wanted from professional development opportunities.

"Paula did an outstanding job of speaking on behalf of elementary teachers," NebraskaMATH PI and CSMCE director Jim Lewis said.

Among the goals of the conference is the preparation of second iteration of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences document, "The Mathematical Preparation of Teachers"; Lewis is chairing the committee that will produce the second edition. Lewis added, "Paula was very poised and articulate; she clearly has thought very carefully about what colleges should be doing to prepare teachers to teach mathematics well."

Millerd was joined by teachers Jerel Welker (Lincoln Public Schools) and Greg Sand (Omaha Public Schools), along with NebraskaMATH Research Coordinator Wendy Smith (UNL) to lead a session at the conference titled "Developing and Supporting Professional Communities of Mathematics Teachers in Nebraska."

Also in October, Noyce fellows Edie Ronhovde of Fremont Public Schools and Anne Schmidt, Delise Andrews and Jerel Welker of Lincoln Public Schools attended the NCTM Regional Conference in St. Louis.

Ronhovde shared, "It was wonderful to be in an atmosphere where everyone around you wanted to discuss math and how we can help our students to better understand math concepts." The conference boasted numerous sessions focused on mathematics instruction. Ronhovde added, "I found myself agonizing over which sessions to attend because there were so many that I wanted to go to." Welker presented at one of the sessions with a talk titled "Strategies for Establishing a Statewide Partnership for Mathematics Instruction."

In July of 2011, Welker and Noyce Fellow Katie Garcia (Omaha Public Schools) attended a High School Reasoning and Sense Making Institute sponsored by NCTM in Orlando. Welker explained that the institute differed from a typical NCTM conference in that "each participant was placed in a content task group focused on a particular task or habits of mind problem used in the classroom to enhance the reasoning and sense making abilities of students. The tasks are designed to increase collaboration, student-student discussion and student-teacher discussion in the classroom."

Garcia described the conference as "a great experience" that focused on "truly allowing students to make sense of what they are learning and creating knowledge of mathematics." She added, "It was great to hear NCTM emphasizing why these learning experiences are not just valid but vital to student learning."