Last month, Kristin Pavelec, Math and Advancing Learners Specialist at Pope Farm Elementary,
attended and spoke at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) National Conference in LA. Pavelec received a 'Future Leader Initial NCTM Annual Conference Attendance Award' to attend the 3-day event. Pavelec has never attended a national conference and was excited to participate in and represent MCPASD.
"Being able to attend workshops and presentations by some of the leading mathematicians in teaching left me feeling excited about so many of the things we are already doing well with elementary math education in MCPASD," said Pavelec.
In recent years, elementary mathematics has started to dig into rich math tasks where students complete fewer problems but work more deeply to problem solve and look at many ways in which they solve tasks. Critical thinking and reasoning are also vital components that encourage students to view mathematics as a process rather than a product of getting a correct answer.
"We are working to shift mindsets where students learn perseverance and problem solving, and that mistakes are welcome and wonderful learning opportunities to grow in our thinking," she said.
Pavelec presented at the conference with Dr. Erin Edgington, Associate Professor at UW-Platteville. "It was such an honor to find out our workshop on productive struggle was selected
as one of the offerings for teachers. We know the value of teachers guiding students on a path of self-discovery through challenging tasks where they must persevere. So often we want to get to the fast answer, inhibiting students' abilities to dig deeply and learn as much from their mistakes as from their successes," she said.
At the session, teachers engage in an activity to experience productive struggle themselves and then think about an activity for their students anticipating the areas of struggle and the teacher's steps to guide and nurture that thinking.
"The field of education and especially mathematics, is constantly evolving and changing. It is so different from when I was in elementary school, and I love the shift. I am a lifelong learner and love opportunities to learn and share with others. It is beyond rewarding when I can learn something new and then teach in a new way with students to see the lightbulb of learning come on," said Pavelec.