LearnBop Community Blog

Unofficial 2015 Guide to NCTM (and to Boston)

Posted by The LearnBop Team

Apr 8, 2015 5:15:36 PM

8,000+ math educators are flocking to Boston, MA next week for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) annual conference. 


From insights ino the implementation and assessment of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics to mathematical education best practices and innovations in education technology, NCTM will undoubtedly be an amazing experience. We can't wait to be there!

As our team prepares to travel in from New York, Missouri, Michigan, and Guatemala (yes...Guatemala!), one question we're all actively discussing is:

How can we all get the most out of NCTM?

Let's face it.

Traveling to a conference like this is expensive! It's important to be deliberate about your attendance. What are your goals? What are you hoping to learn? Who are you hoping to meet?

Below are some best practices for attending NCTM this year, and since many of you plan to stay in Boston Saturday night and Sunday morning before returning home, a few insider tips of some things to do in Boston.

7 Tactics To Maximize Your NCTM Conference Experience

1. Set SMART goals.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Set SMART goals before you travel to Boston. Are you attending NCTM to meet with specific people? To learn more about specific companies? To help answer specific questions or challenges facing your school or district?

Here are some examples:

  • Research 3 new companies that can help my district 
  • Meet 10 new mathematics educators, and ask them what their favorite education technology resources are

What are your goals? Write them down.

Review them with your colleagues and anyone else from your school or district attending NCTM.

2. Plan your day.

Don't waste time in the morning deciding what sessions you'd like to attend. Make plans ahead of time. You can check out the NCTM 2015 Program Schedule here. Search by time slot, author, or topic.

Don't forget to leave room for walking around the exhibitor booths!

Come introduce yourself to the LearnBop team at booth #1237 and snag a t-shirt or enter to win a Chromebook for your classroom!

3. Download the app.

From the NCTM website:

Please note that you do NOT need WiFi to access agenda items within the app once it has been downloaded to your device.

This mobile app will allow you to: 

  • Create your own personal schedule and access location and speaker information.
  • Access conference handouts
  • Check-in to presentations and exhibitor booths.
  • Share your feedback of each presentation by taking the Survey! (Listed with the presentation information for each presentation, and available 5 minutes before the conclusion of each presentation).
  • Connect with attendees by posting photos and comments
  • See what other attendees are doing at the conference through the News Feed
  • Climb your way to the top of the Leaderboard by earning points and unlocking badges for being active on the app and at the event. 

You can download the app here.

4. Practice your opening line.

For many of us, meeting new people isn't the most natural activity, particularly at such a large conference. Whether it's walking by an exhibotor's booth, sitting next to someone at a presentation, or standing in line to use the restroom, it might be helpful to practice some opening lines.

When you're surrounded by so many brilliant math educators from across the country, you'll want to be able to speak confidently about things like:

  • Who you are and why you're at NCTM
  • Your school or district's biggest wins from this school year
  • Your school or district's biggest challenges from this school year

Practice speaking about those topics and get ready to meet someone new!

5. Take (better) notes.

It may be helpful to compartmentalize the way you take notes. Think about what your conference goals are, and create separate, relevant sections in your notebook. The goal here is to take notes in a way that helps you take clearer, more high-impact actions when you get back home after the conference.

As an example, here's how one member of our team will be structuring his notes:

  • CCSSM Implementation - what tools are schools/districts using to help facilitate CCSSM implementation in the classroom?
  • Tackling Summer Learning Loss - what are other schools/districts doing?
  • New Friends - what nice-to-meet-you note/resource can you send them after NCTM?
  • New Companies/Resources -  what exhibitors looked interesting?

6. Stay healthy.

Conferences can be a real strain on the 'ole immunity system. Get some sleep! Eat healthy! Sneak in a workout during the conference! Wear healthy shoes and don't forget to drink lots of water.

When many of us travel, we break free from our healthy routines. It's easy to let ourselves go in the excitement of a new place and of meeting new people.

Fight the urge!

7. Debrief with your colleagues.

Attending a conference like NCTM can be exhilerating! It's important to schedule time after you get home to process your experience. What notes did you take? Who did you meet? What are your next steps?

As a helpful, educational gesture to those of your colleagues who can't attend, it may be helpful to format your key takeaways from NCTM into an email, or a shareable document that you can spread around your school or district.


Top 5 Things To Do In Boston

For some of us, NCTM is our first trip to Boston! One of our LearnBop team members lived in Boston for 5 years and wanted to share a few of his favorite activities for those of you visiting:

1. Walk the Freedom Trail.

One of the most popular activities to do during a short visit to Boston is the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking trail that starts in the heart of downtown Boston and meanders around 16 historic sites that help tell the story of the American Revolution.

Take a tour or walk the path yourself.

2. See Fenway Park (or catch a game).

Even if you're not a baseball fan, Fenway Park is a great neighborhood to explore.

Sneak in a tour of the park, or better yet, catch a game! Looks like the Red Sox are playing the Orioles on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Pro tip - during a game, even if you don't have tickets, walk into Bleacher Bar. It is built inside the green monster and has part of the wall cut out with a window looking into Fenway park. Grab a drink and catch some of the game live!

3. Eat seafood.

Boston's known for it's seafood.

Legal Seafood (multiple locations) is always a great option. For something a little fancier, check out Island Creek Oyster Bar. There's also Neptune Oyster and Union Oyster House, both iconic spots.

Pro tip - it's not clam chowder. It's clam chow-daaaaaahh.

4. Grab a canoli.

If you're not planning to walk the Freedom Trail, you should still try to see Boston's Italian North End, home to dozens of hearty, aromatic eateries.

For a quick (and famous) bite, grab a canoli at Mike's Pastry!

5. Explore the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. 

Many folks might point you to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, but for a more unique experience, check out the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum.

Chock-full of character and a kind of intimacy uncommon in most museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum boasts a Venetian palazzo, and was home to the greatest robbery in U.S. history - $500 million of precious art that vanished in the middle of the day!

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