News from the Central 1 Region
Gwen Zimmermann, Central 1 Regional Director
Spring 2016

The NCSM board is continuously seeking opportunities to support and engage our members. After brainstorming ideas at our fall board meeting, we decided to pursue hosting 3 NCSM "Un-Conferences." On Saturday, March 5th, I hosted the first NCSM Un-Conference at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. You might be wondering, "What is an un-conference?" In a nutshell, the format of an un-conference allows for participants to determine the program.

Approximately 45 people spent half a day on a Saturday discussing topics, such as:

  • Standards-based grading models & supporting teachers in their use
  • Elementary math and developing elementary teacher capacity for math
  • Leveling of mathematics courses
  • 1:1 Environments
  • Engaging, authentic, open-ended tasks
  • RtI at the high school level
  • Teaching students to work collaboratively
  • Helping struggling students
  • Motivating the unmotivated
  • Desmos teacher activities
  • Questioning and discussion techniques

NCSM's purpose was to explore the idea of having a low-cost event to bring together those with an interest in issues related to the teaching and learning of mathematics. We would be providing a forum and service for members and introduce others to NCSM. With the support of sponsors, like ETA and McGraw Hill, there was no cost to participants. We provided breakfast, ensured the availability of technology, and encouraged participants to practice the "2 feet rule" - if a session was not meeting their needs, then go to another session. We used Google to share the dynamic agenda, take notes, share resources, and pose questions.

The camaraderie, discussions, sharing, and networking was invigorating! The feedback we received both at the event as well as through the collection of feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Many commented that the Un-Conference was some of the best professional learning they had experienced. People commented that they had learned from others, were able to share some of their work, and made new connections with colleagues at other schools.

Keep your eyes open! In the near future, we hope to have "un-conference toolkit" available so others can host their own un-conference. Or you can contact me or Jason Gauthier (who takes over after the annual conference as the RD for Central 1), and we'll be happy to help you or maybe even come host one in your area.

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