Episode #259: Visual Patterns & Practice Standards: A Conversation with Fawn Nguyen

Nov 13, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

This week we bring on another 2023 Make Math Moments Virtual Summit speaker: Fawn Nguyen! 

Fawn is on the Math Advance Team at Amplify Desmos Math. She was a math coach for a K-8 school district for three years. Before that, Fawn was a middle school teacher for 30 years. Fawn was the 2014 Ventura County Teacher of the Year. In 2009, she was awarded the Math Teacher Hero from Raytheon. In 2005, she was awarded the Sarah D. Barder Fellowship from the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

Fawn will share why understanding the impact of your past choices in the classroom is necessary for your growth, how learning how to visualize mathematics allows educators to break free from the rush to the algorithm, and how to teach with the website visualpatterns.org the right way!

What You’ll Learn:

  • Why understanding the impact of your past choices in the classroom is necessary for your growth;
  • How learning how to visualize mathematics allows educators to break free from the rush to the algorithm;
  • How to embed the 8 mathematical practice standards into you classroom lessons; 
  • Practical classroom routines to amplify student discourse; 
  • How to teach with the website visualpatterns.org the right way! And, 
  • Why math class could and should be as fun as recess; 

Attention District Math Leaders:

How are you ensuring that you support those educators who need a nudge to spark a focus on growing their pedagogical-content knowledge?  What about opportunities for those who are eager and willing to elevate their practice, but do not have the support?  Book a call with our District Improvement Program Team to learn how we can not only help you craft, refine and implement your district math learning goals, but also provide all of the professional learning supports your educators need to grow at the speed of their learning. Book a short conversation with our team now.  

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00:00:00:08 – 00:00:19:00
Fawn Nguyen
We use the word play because that’s what I say. I say to my kids, Oh, here’s the problem. Let’s play with this problem instead of let’s work on this problem, I actually say play it because it’s about investigation. The word investigation doesn’t come into mathematics the way that science uses investigate in science a lot. Why can’t you say the same word in mathematics?

00:00:19:00 – 00:00:21:01
Fawn Nguyen
Because to me, that’s what it is. It’s play.

00:00:21:06 – 00:00:45:12
Jon Orr
This week we bring on another 2023 make math moments virtual summit speaker. And this time it’s fun when fun is on the math. Advanced team at Amplify does most math and she was a math coach for a K to eight school district for three years. Before that, Fine was a middle school teacher for 30 years and was the 2014 Ventura County Teacher of the Year.

00:00:45:12 – 00:00:57:20
Jon Orr
Can you believe it was in a nine? She was awarded the math teacher hero for Raytheon in 2005. She was awarded the Sara de Baader Fellowship from the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

00:00:57:22 – 00:01:36:20
Kyle Pearce
Vonn will share why understanding the impact of your past choices in the classroom is necessary for your growth. How Learning to visualize mathematics allows educators to break free from the rush to the algorithm and how to teach with the website. Visual patterns dot org the right way. Let’s hit it. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast.

00:01:36:21 – 00:01:40:12
Jon Orr
I’m Kyle Pearce and I’m Jon Orr we are from makemathmoments.com.

00:01:40:14 – 00:01:48:22
Kyle Pearce
This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether at the classroom level or.

00:01:48:22 – 00:02:03:01
Jon Orr
At the district level. And we do that by helping you cultivate in foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree. So if you mastered the six parts of the effective mathematics program, the impact of your program is going to reach far and wide.

00:02:03:03 – 00:02:18:17
Kyle Pearce
Every week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence, and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or educators that you serve.

00:02:18:19 – 00:02:19:20
Jon Orr
Let’s do it.

00:02:19:22 – 00:02:45:09
Kyle Pearce
Hey. Hey there. Fine. Thanks for joining us here on the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. This has been a long time coming. We’ve reached out a few times in the past and schedules have been difficult, I think actually, I think if I recall the last time before this one, before we were able to get you on for today’s show or today’s episode, the last time we asked, we were interfering with the San Diego.

00:02:45:11 – 00:02:54:12
Kyle Pearce
I was going to say Padres, but that’s baseball because I like baseball. But I think you’re a San Diego football friggin Oregon, I bet. No, I think it’s San Diego, Oregon.

00:02:54:12 – 00:03:01:02
Fawn Nguyen
Does you get that half of the San deal? Correct. It’s Los Angeles Chargers now. It used to be so.

00:03:01:02 – 00:03:16:22
Kyle Pearce
It used to be San Diego. That’s where I went to blank. And I was like, Oh, goodness, we’re Canadian. So we go for the Toronto Argonauts from the Canadian Football League. I’m just kidding. I don’t watch any football. Fine. Welcome to the show. How are you feeling today? Where are you coming to us from and how’s things in your world?

00:03:16:23 – 00:03:31:23
Fawn Nguyen
I am doing well. I am doing well. Busy. I am in Southern California, closer to Santa Barbara than Los Angeles, some north of L.A., about half an hour without traffic or 3 hours with the traffic.

00:03:32:00 – 00:03:35:03
Kyle Pearce
Yes, of course. Which is a good thing.

00:03:35:03 – 00:03:57:02
Jon Orr
Yeah, Yeah, of course, of course. Fun. We met a few times over the years, and so we like to think we know a little bit about you, but you let our listeners, who I think also know a little bit about you, but let our listeners know about, I guess, two things. One is give us a little bit of a backstory on maybe how you got into education and then how that led you to your current role.

00:03:57:04 – 00:04:22:12
Fawn Nguyen
Yes. So once upon a time, I grew up in Vietnam. No, not going that far back. So I wanted freshman year in college and I met a boy. And unfortunately, yeah, looking back, I majored in biology because that was his major. We both want to do pre-med and the relation gap serious enough that we are going to get married.

00:04:22:14 – 00:04:47:05
Fawn Nguyen
And so I thought, Oh, I want to have children and I don’t see long years in pre-med and doing that and having two doctors in the family. So I thought, you go right ahead, because that was his decision, right? I was just getting along. So with my biology degree I thought, okay, what else can I do? My dad is a math teacher, so that teaching part was always in the back of my mind.

00:04:47:07 – 00:05:04:14
Fawn Nguyen
So I wanted to get my teaching credential to go along with my biology degree. So I started out as a science teacher and I loved it. However, it was a lot of hands on and I remember buying lots of things my own didn’t quite have the funds for it and we really couldn’t use the textbook. It was difficult for the kids.

00:05:04:16 – 00:05:32:07
Fawn Nguyen
So that combination of not having the textbook and just a lot trying to do lots of hands on and then I’ve always loved math, right? My dad is a math teacher. So when we moved from Oregon and then we moved from Oregon to California, I thought that move was my chance to give math a try. So I took the test to be able to teach math at middle school level up through middle school, or I think it was up through algebra two.

00:05:32:09 – 00:05:46:08
Fawn Nguyen
So I got that credential to teach through algebra two. And yeah, I was good to go. So I gave math a try and that was that never looked back. I’ve always loved it. So now teaching, it was just, yeah.

00:05:46:10 – 00:05:48:20
Kyle Pearce
How did so I’m curious.

00:05:48:22 – 00:05:52:06
Jon Orr
I was going to have to.

00:05:52:08 – 00:05:53:13
Fawn Nguyen
Raise your hand if I.

00:05:53:13 – 00:06:03:22
Kyle Pearce
Know it’s wrong here. Hang on Wednesday and there’s is I just did the celebration outside. Darn. John what were you going to say? I bet you were kind of going down the same path.

00:06:03:22 – 00:06:10:21
Jon Orr
I’m maybe curious here. Yeah, maybe. I’m curious about early math teacher fun. I know that.

00:06:10:23 – 00:06:11:13
Kyle Pearce

00:06:11:13 – 00:06:14:08
Jon Orr
Yeah. Is that what you’re going to say? College? Yeah. I was going to say.

00:06:14:10 – 00:06:19:13
Kyle Pearce
You loved math. So did John and I. But we came out really flat. I would say.

00:06:19:13 – 00:06:23:10
Fawn Nguyen
Oh, you know, no cringe crunches. What I can think of it.

00:06:23:13 – 00:06:26:09
Jon Orr
Was a picture of what early fun looked like versus.

00:06:26:09 – 00:06:28:22
Kyle Pearce
Get off my shoulders weighed off my shoulders.

00:06:29:00 – 00:06:58:15
Fawn Nguyen
Straight out of the textbook, two pages ahead of the kids, if even maybe just one page ahead of the kids. So not good at all. Not good at all. And because I never took math courses, that was just my love for math. And then I happened to pass the test. Apparently it was not that rigorous for me to not have math, formal math, math, and and just know the math, which is on the side for my science degree, was enough for me to pass those tests.

00:06:58:17 – 00:07:00:24
Fawn Nguyen
So yeah, so tutoring was flat.

00:07:01:00 – 00:07:18:20
Kyle Pearce
Let me guess. So you were saying you had a love for math. You always enjoyed it. And John and I can relate there and we have mentioned this on the podcast a number of times before where we sort of came in assuming everyone would be like us, all the kids, we’re going to just be interested in doing the math.

00:07:18:20 – 00:07:37:14
Kyle Pearce
And that was going to be good and that was not our experience. So at what point in your career did you kind of go, Hmm, maybe there’s a different way? Wasn’t an inspiration out there, was there an epiphany that you had? Was there maybe a colleague or a mentor of some sort that sort of went Definitely different? Yeah.

00:07:37:14 – 00:07:38:07
Kyle Pearce
I mean, that was.

00:07:38:08 – 00:07:58:24
Fawn Nguyen
Like a business today. So I was teaching science, but just to fill up my summer and I love math on the side. I took a course at Point State. It was during the summer and it’s called visual math for a middle school teachers. It’s like, I love math. The visual part and not sure about what is this about.

00:07:59:01 – 00:08:16:07
Fawn Nguyen
So I signed up and that was the introduction. That was when I thought, Oh my God, I love it even more. And I have to say something. The way that you and John may have love math is might be very different for why I love math. I love math because I was told that was a class I felt smart in right?

00:08:16:08 – 00:08:36:13
Fawn Nguyen
That was the class always. I get straight A’s, but here’s this class. Go to the summer when I didn’t know how to solve these problems, I was like, Oh, I’ve never been stuck in math this way. Stuck for days. What is this? But instead of pull my hair out, I just kind of pulled back and said, I like these problems.

00:08:36:13 – 00:08:50:02
Fawn Nguyen
I understand what it’s asking. I just don’t quite know how to solve it. And so I was like, Wait, I’m a math class. This is a math problem, and it’s a great problem, but I don’t know quite know how to do it because there’s no prescribed methods.

00:08:50:03 – 00:08:52:15
Kyle Pearce
Nobody taught me how to do it yet.

00:08:52:17 – 00:09:12:16
Fawn Nguyen
And I appreciate that. And I said, I want this feeling for all my kids. And then the other visual part in a different class, it was, you know, little tape diagrams. And we had to do we had to avoid using algebra. That was the instruction, Do not use algebra. You have to use these diagrams and being forced into that, I loved it.

00:09:12:22 – 00:09:41:21
Fawn Nguyen
So yeah, so long story short, it was just I want the same for my kids who was how I got out of those classes that particular summer, I don’t know, was over two summers or that both classes in the same summer when both came in. The problem solving types of problems, the non-routine problems and the visual math part where the visual patterns came and also not just the visual patterns, but solving math, using diagrams, only helping all these word problems.

00:09:41:23 – 00:10:03:21
Fawn Nguyen
And so here I felt really fraudulent or, you know, I mean, it was not my fault. I was given A’s for stuff I didn’t know a whole lot about. BLEEP not that area. Diagram the area model. I didn’t learn it there as in oh, multiplication can be model three times five be the dimensions of a rectangle. It just blew me away.

00:10:03:21 – 00:10:09:11
Fawn Nguyen
That how deprived. Yeah. I want to go use the word deprived of the thinking.

00:10:09:13 – 00:10:27:12
Kyle Pearce
How early in your journey was that? Because I have to say you had mentioned that you loved math maybe in a different way than maybe John and I. And I would argue that actually I think John and I both enjoyed mathematics for almost the same exact reason, because we were told we were good at it and that’s why we did it.

00:10:27:12 – 00:10:43:00
Kyle Pearce
We I’ll be honest, on a Friday night, I wasn’t doing math by any means. I just thought this is what I could do. And everyone’s telling me my marks, telling me I’m good at it. To be honest, I actually didn’t think I was that good at math itself. I was able to get the grade and that was about it.

00:10:43:00 – 00:11:09:05
Kyle Pearce
But I’m curious about when this course happened for you, because I feel like it was well along my journey when I bumped into and I’ll be honest, even you were doing visual patterns, I think before I had really had my epiphany around how valuable it was for supporting, thinking. I initially got maybe mesmerized by the idea of like, Oh, this could be a good warm up.

00:11:09:05 – 00:11:32:19
Kyle Pearce
And I think a lot of teachers sort of fall into that trap. They look for something that we could do at the start, a class to get kids talking and all good intentions. But I didn’t have the epiphany that visualizing mathematics, both patterns and otherwise, is, as you mentioned, different models, is actually a massive, massive way that we can bridge the gap between students who may not see themselves as math.

00:11:32:19 – 00:11:38:13
Kyle Pearce
MATTHEWS Or mathematicians and those who have always traditionally, quote unquote, been able to make the grade.

00:11:38:17 – 00:11:42:18
Fawn Nguyen
When I was teaching science, meaning early, I’m early, early.

00:11:42:18 – 00:11:44:09
Kyle Pearce
Jealous of you.

00:11:44:11 – 00:11:45:00
Jon Orr

00:11:45:02 – 00:11:45:21
Kyle Pearce
But that’s awesome.

00:11:45:21 – 00:12:09:03
Fawn Nguyen
That was just taking the course. The epiphany happened. This is good. But did that translate into teaching? Now, that took a few more years because my assignment, I was teaching geometry at the time high school and I had pre-calculus also. So it didn’t transfer quite well because it also said get more algebra and yes, definitely more algebra. And the proportion reason more middle school.

00:12:09:09 – 00:12:33:00
Fawn Nguyen
So yeah, it took a few years because my assignment, my subject assignment didn’t really quite line up and I was so new. I was new to teaching. I felt like it was new to teaching even though I taught science. But when you go and teach math in a different state, I moved from Oregon to California. So a lot of newness and oh, also I should say I was teaching, I taught middle school in 11 years in Portland, all middle school.

00:12:33:00 – 00:12:45:01
Fawn Nguyen
And when I tried out the math in California because of the move, it happened to also be at high school level. So I was feeling a lot of newness that I just kind of barely survive teaching.

00:12:45:02 – 00:13:09:16
Jon Orr
I think you’ve given us a lot of insight into your past and where some of your ideas had come from in your learning along the way. We’d have to ask this question. Otherwise we’ll get emails that said, we didn’t ask this question because it’s the question that we ask every guest, which is your math moment. And oftentimes when we ask people to think about a math moment, there’s something that usually pops in your mind as soon as you set math class is an image from your past that stands out.

00:13:09:18 – 00:13:32:00
Jon Orr
For me, it was an image of like I used to get stickers when I was a little kid. Oh, I felt really powerful. I got these puffy stickers that stuck out on the book. For some reason, when I say math class, my brain still goes back to those images. And to think about that reward system that that teacher had set up for me later to find out that they weren’t as useful for me, those stickers, because I didn’t really know what I was doing.

00:13:32:00 – 00:13:45:22
Jon Orr
But that’s still in my mind. My brain will still go back there when I hear the words math class. And I’m curious when we say math class, what is popping into your mind that stuck with you all these years as your image of math class?

00:13:45:24 – 00:14:15:16
Fawn Nguyen
I don’t have one the way that you had described. However, I do. The moment came when So this particular moment came to mind when my eighth grade teacher or seventh grade teacher, she handed me the book to algebra. So we were doing seventh grade and she just handed me it just from yeah, She walked up one to a bookshelf, handed me a textbook to find you’re on your own right in the middle class.

00:14:15:18 – 00:14:32:22
Fawn Nguyen
I don’t know what triggered it. I don’t know what I answered, but I remember it was the middle class and it just stood up from her desk and presented me with this will to be on my own in front of the whole class. And that was it. And then after it goes up and after that, the next year I was on my own again because I was on my own in my head.

00:14:32:22 – 00:14:36:14
Jon Orr
Just keep learning on your own. I’m going to deal with everybody else. You just do your own thing.

00:14:36:19 – 00:14:40:16
Fawn Nguyen
What? I just kind of lost a teacher loss on my classmates.

00:14:40:20 – 00:14:44:24
Kyle Pearce
You know what? I’m not going to doubt that that isn’t happening. Oh, I.

00:14:44:24 – 00:14:45:22
Jon Orr
Think it’s happening right all.

00:14:45:22 – 00:15:04:03
Kyle Pearce
The time still, especially. And I think when we reflect and this is a part of the episodes, if you go back and listen to some of the episodes and the different moments that have been shared, you know, over 200 episodes worth of these math moments that have shared and some are positive, some are very negative, some are maybe not memorable.

00:15:04:03 – 00:15:32:13
Kyle Pearce
But this one here, this is the first time I’ve heard something along these lines. And I always learn something from them. And what I’m recognizing and I’ve said this for other scenarios before as well, is that that teacher probably had no intent or no ill intent. The teacher probably had this thought of all the kids in the room your best suited to go off on your own and they’re thinking like nothing about that at all.

00:15:32:15 – 00:15:53:07
Kyle Pearce
And it reminds you that our actions as educators can have an impact on the students we serve, regardless of whether they were intended to be negative or not. Sometimes it’s just interpretation. Sometimes you don’t recognize how a child’s going to feel, even though that teacher may have thought Bonds doing really well, she should be proud that she can go work on her own.

00:15:53:07 – 00:15:54:17
Kyle Pearce
That might be what she had thought.

00:15:54:17 – 00:16:10:14
Fawn Nguyen
Oh yes, definitely no ill thoughts. And I remember it was just for me, it struck me because it was in the middle class. It was just yeah, she got out of her desk. We were doing something and then just, yeah, handed me the text and I as a kid, right. Oh, I love math. I was just that’s what I wanted.

00:16:10:17 – 00:16:20:13
Fawn Nguyen
But I do remember it’s new. How do I do this on my own? Normally you teach, and I do. I’m following the rules and stuff. But yeah, it was new.

00:16:20:19 – 00:16:44:14
Jon Orr
Yeah. Think about the mindset that teacher has about that action. So what’s happening in our classrooms today? Like Kyle said, it’s most likely is, is that the teacher thinks is convinced that they’re serving the student better by doing that. But it’s so telling on on what the teacher actually believes like the purpose of math classes for hey, the only reason you’re taking math is you’re just.

00:16:44:16 – 00:16:46:03
Kyle Pearce
Crunching through.

00:16:46:05 – 00:17:01:04
Jon Orr
The algorithms. Understand how to do that problem. Move on to the next one, understanding how to do that problem, memorize it. How do that one? Because that’s all that really can come from. When you’re like, Here’s the book, read it, do it, and that’s it. That’s the mindset that’s happening in the teachers.

00:17:01:06 – 00:17:08:22
Fawn Nguyen
So here’s the full disclosure. Not any teacher. This teacher right here, guess what? That was done to me. So guess what? Funded?

00:17:08:24 – 00:17:10:17
Jon Orr
I find it. It funded it.

00:17:10:20 – 00:17:33:00
Fawn Nguyen
No, I am now teaching mathematics and I started there. I want to say it was my very first year there and there were seven kids, seven that really high fives. And I knew, you know, how the textbook opens. It is a lot of review. So these seven kids, guess what? Ms. went in, handed them algebra, these were seventh graders, ended them.

00:17:33:01 – 00:17:39:07
Fawn Nguyen
The algebra tap was exactly like what was done to me. Exactly. Except. But they have each other, right?

00:17:39:07 – 00:17:42:01
Jon Orr
Oh, you’re a group at the back. Go in the back. Make sure you keep going.

00:17:42:03 – 00:17:59:10
Fawn Nguyen
There’s seven of them, and I do check in on them daily. So, you know, a lot of regular class time this time to check in with them. How are you guys doing? Well, yeah. No, we did that for an entire year. And guess what? These kids, then These kids with their parents at total parent support, they love that parents.

00:17:59:12 – 00:18:26:02
Fawn Nguyen
And then so they took the bus in the morning for zero period at the local high school for their geometry for the whole next year as eighth graders said our school. So I talk about that in one of my talks about something as a big mistake, and it was something that I’m trying to undo. Right. And so when it came time, it took a few years for me to put a stop to that and the guilt was so much and I couldn’t sleep.

00:18:26:02 – 00:18:50:16
Fawn Nguyen
And then I put a stop to it because what happened is after that year, I believe that really happened one year. And then now I actually teach geometry at the school. So because it was successful, all seven and credited the kids, right? These seven kids, they got top award at the high school level, being an eighth grader and did algebra pretty much on their own with me, checking in on all these kids that excel.

00:18:50:16 – 00:18:52:21
Fawn Nguyen
I mean, they they excel. It’s not something well.

00:18:52:23 – 00:19:16:10
Kyle Pearce
In something that we talk about on the podcast often and John and I love using ourselves as an examples is that we’ve done many, many things that we would no longer do. And I think it’s a really important message for all educators out there as to we can’t beat ourselves up. But something I heard you say is just this idea of undoing by undoing what it is, is it’s learning, right?

00:19:16:10 – 00:19:35:19
Kyle Pearce
We’re learning you did the best you knew how to do at the time. We talk about that all the time. And I would argue that every single educator is doing that. Some teachers are just still rushing to the algorithm and getting kids to mimic, but that’s what they think is supposed to happen at the time. They are doing the best that they know how to do right now.

00:19:35:21 – 00:19:57:17
Kyle Pearce
And I think folks like yourself and John and I try to contribute to this community where we’re just trying to spread ideas and raise awareness and not to create guilt, not to create people feeling bad about the work that they’ve done, but ultimately the learning. And that’s kind of what I’m getting from your thinking here. And you’ve done a lot to impact and influence math education.

00:19:57:23 – 00:20:17:24
Kyle Pearce
Maybe one of the more notable is, is visual pattern story a great resource? As I mentioned earlier, and we could go way down that rabbit hole. But we also have you joining us for this year’s virtual summit. It is our fifth annual virtual summit in November. And yes, it is on a football weekend, which you had told us.

00:20:17:24 – 00:20:29:02
Kyle Pearce
You said keep it away from Sunday, whatever you do. And we said, don’t worry, we’re going to get you on Friday night. That gives you enough time to get all your pre-game stuff going on Saturday. All kinds of good.

00:20:29:03 – 00:20:33:04
Fawn Nguyen
Instantiated football there. Not a whole lot of games, not like baseball.

00:20:33:10 – 00:20:56:18
Kyle Pearce
Exactly. Three fractions question. Right. Because when I miss a hockey game on Saturday night, there is a hockey game. That Saturday night is hockey night in Canada and the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing and I’m going to be doing the summit. I’m missing one every second of that season and you’re missing 1/16 of that season. I would be curious how many more times or how much more time or effort are you missing out on that?

00:20:56:18 – 00:21:19:11
Kyle Pearce
We’ll go down that rabbit hole at different time. But what I do want to talk to you about is that your session title actually isn’t. I mean, it could have been super easy to be like how to maximize visual patterns or how to do something like that, but you chose something a little different. And we always ask our presenters, we said, What’s on your mind lately when they say, What do you want us to talk about?

00:21:19:11 – 00:21:38:05
Kyle Pearce
And we said, What is on your mind lately and your title? And I’m wondering if you can kind of unpack it a little bit. It’s called Doing Right by the Eight Mathematical Practices. It’ll will happen on Friday, November 17th, in the evening evening here on the East Coast. And I guess in the early or late afternoon on the West Coast.

00:21:38:10 – 00:21:46:17
Kyle Pearce
Tell us a little bit more what inspired the title and what are people going to learn when they join you for that awesome, awesome summit session?

00:21:46:20 – 00:22:12:24
Fawn Nguyen
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I’m excited because aside from visual patterns, I’m so big on problem solving and problem solving. It’s however you want to call it. For me, it’s about thinking deeply and creatively. Right? And I know Peter spoke. I know he’s been on your podcast about the non-routine problems. So what happens? Because initially teachers will say, Well, what standard is that?

00:22:12:24 – 00:22:31:23
Fawn Nguyen
What content is that? Because I don’t have enough time to teach this stuff I’m supposed to teach, How do I bring in something that’s not even related to the curriculum? And this is when I say you are doing the eight math practices, and that has to be so, so important to me. That’s no matter what. I mean, that’s why it spans K through 12.

00:22:32:00 – 00:22:54:03
Fawn Nguyen
So it’s not a one off thing. It’s not this particular level. It’s all across all grade levels. And it it goes beyond classroom. The eight malpractices. I want to say that you as a citizen, as a thinker, you want to grab all those good practices. So it ties with doing problem solving. How do we extract, how do we get the eight math practice from Bell to bell?

00:22:54:06 – 00:23:19:14
Fawn Nguyen
Yeah, with your warm up, how you facilitate the classroom and the vertical whiteboards, if that’s what you’re doing. The five math practices. So it just incorporates how do we leverage all these routines and be mindful that the eight math practices and my other thing is and know right now, unfortunately a lot of it lives on posters in the classroom, whereas I just want to go ahead and start.

00:23:19:14 – 00:23:42:10
Fawn Nguyen
Administrators teach all parties involved students, student teachers, and when we communicate with parents to start using the language from the math practices and so that becomes when we say conjecture, what do we mean when we say perseverance? What does that look like? The habits of mind in how to cultivate that. Right, Nurture that.

00:23:42:12 – 00:24:02:16
Jon Orr
I’m excited for you to dig into that because it reminds me of an article I read by Alan Schoenfeld. I think the title was Why Teaching Math is So Difficult. And he used a quote that said, What we’re teaching in school is the fossilized remains of what mathematics was to people who use mathematics and created what mathematics. We’re not doing that with our students.

00:24:02:16 – 00:24:30:01
Jon Orr
And I think when I read that article two dives, he goes pretty deep into why it’s so important that the mathematical practices are there, because that gets to the heart of what mathematics really is. But he goes into the history of how the Common Core came out and what actually impact that had on classrooms. And I think what really struck me about about that and it goes to why the mathematical practices need to be so work because no, you’re right.

00:24:30:06 – 00:24:51:00
Jon Orr
This on posters, people don’t treat them the way they need to be treated as actual standards. We need to embed with our students because they focus solely on the content standards of going. I’m going to check this list off and he had mentioned in his article is that when we started to list standards so granularity, that’s where teachers were like, Well, I got to get this, I got to do this, I got to do this, I got to do this.

00:24:51:00 – 00:25:17:04
Jon Orr
I don’t have time for that over there because all of these things are laid out so clearly, so specifically that we have to actually get to. And these things over here are more general. So it’s like because we went so specific with our standards, it actually pushed the actual really important pieces of mathematics to the outside edge. And I’m so glad you’re doing this session at the summit because I think it’s so important that we focus on that as really the primary aspect of why we’re doing that.

00:25:17:06 – 00:25:35:23
Fawn Nguyen
And hopefully I’m from the classroom so have really practical strategies where teachers don’t have to buy anything, don’t have to not elaborate, set up. This is the questions you could ask, the simple routines that you can read and yeah, the types of questions we can ask to always highlight, always thinking I love it.

00:25:36:00 – 00:26:05:17
Kyle Pearce
Having those strategies is so key and I like to think of those practices. Here in Ontario, we call them math process expectations. Same idea. They’re worded differently, but it is the same thing, the same stuff, the important pieces. And it’s almost like we’ve accidentally hyper focused on the content standards. And in reality now I try to help educators to sort of rethink the content standards a little bit to go they’re there as like ideas.

00:26:05:17 – 00:26:29:01
Kyle Pearce
It’s like a menu of ideas of what you might do in order to emerge these practices, in order to do this stuff and do this stuff well, imagine if you didn’t have any content standards. You’re like, What should I do tomorrow? I don’t know. The freedom might be freeing for some, but for others they might be like, I don’t know what’s important to you.

00:26:29:01 – 00:26:50:11
Kyle Pearce
So it’s like I’ve got this beautiful menu of all these ideas, all these beautiful things that happen in math behaviors. And now what I want to do is craft these experiences that allow students to engage in these practices as routinely as possible, not like you said, as posters on the wall of the way math would have been or could have been or should be.

00:26:50:13 – 00:27:06:03
Kyle Pearce
Hey, remember, this is what math really is. It’s not what we’re going to do here today, kids. But just so you know, that’s what it really is. And I think that’s going to be great. So I’m wondering if I’m listening. I’m a math moment maker. I’m excited to dive into this session. All three of us are all jazzed up about it.

00:27:06:09 – 00:27:20:06
Kyle Pearce
What do you hoping that a teacher’s going to take away? If they were to walk away and they go, I was in a bond session and I really learned about blank. What are you hoping they walk away with when you engage in some of that work on November 17th?

00:27:20:08 – 00:27:46:06
Fawn Nguyen
Actually, the first thing that I hope teachers will recognize is, oh, I’m already doing some of this right. So to amplify that, because it’s so important that teachers I want teachers to celebrate what it is they’re doing already. Right. And then hopefully. Oh, and then they see. So first, not just the recognition that, oh, I do that. I guess I just need to do more of it, make it more embedded rather than I did that two weeks ago.

00:27:46:09 – 00:28:10:22
Fawn Nguyen
They were not thinking about revisiting. So recognition of what they’re already doing is great and then maybe add and how to carve out some time, how do you make it so it’s intentional and hopefully it’s practical, simple, and tying it with other resources that hopefully they say, Oh, I’ve heard about it. And so and yeah, nothing I’m sharing that will be like, Oh, I’ve never heard of that.

00:28:10:24 – 00:28:32:10
Fawn Nguyen
So it just hopefully appalls them to think, Oh, okay, I’m doing that and I will do more of this because that looks doable and whatever I try because I speak normally at the bigger, not normally bigger conferences, but you know, I mean not particular district or particular schools. So I try to give out tasks. Things that we do are adaptable.

00:28:32:16 – 00:28:47:04
Fawn Nguyen
Yeah. For I mean, even elementary through all the way, all the way through or at least there’s a wide range and it’s just so flexible that teachers can say, Oh, I just need to change this part, that part, and it will do. Yeah.

00:28:47:06 – 00:28:54:01
Jon Orr
What would be some of those practical examples that you think is going to be most impactful for a teacher when they show up to the session?

00:28:54:03 – 00:29:19:12
Fawn Nguyen
Well, one, just so you don’t have to do a full visual pattern. For example, I would love for teachers to do that. A full visual pattern, as in the regular one that you see on the website, what is the next step and eventually generalize to any step. But also there’s this routine I called notice this sequence. So the teachers would get so the students just six terms, five, five, six terms.

00:29:19:14 – 00:29:39:16
Fawn Nguyen
And yeah, so the numbers are already in them and they asked for the 100th time. And so there’s that, right? So it’s what is in the first term and what’s in the term and the common difference. And then you can just imagine they can just change one thing about that sequence and it’s a new question. It can be anywhere.

00:29:39:16 – 00:29:52:12
Fawn Nguyen
You can make the common difference if there is such a thing or and vamp that up and instead of asking for one for the 45th asked for anything and so many things that you can change and it’s super quick.

00:29:52:14 – 00:30:15:03
Kyle Pearce
I love it. I love it. And using those routines as a means for teachers to kind of zoom out and think about other parts of their curriculum, other parts of their course, where really what it comes down to is having that purposeful questioning, that intentionality, that getting students thinking instead of sort of sitting back and waiting for us to sort of tell them the next move.

00:30:15:03 – 00:30:41:02
Kyle Pearce
And I think that’s fantastic. Friends. I know those who are listening, many know about visual patterns. Dot org. We will post that up on the website. Fine. What if somebody is listening in? They’re like, Shoot, I’m watching curling on Friday, November 17th and they can’t make fun session. But I do want to reach out to find I want to learn more about the work that she’s doing.

00:30:41:08 – 00:30:45:12
Kyle Pearce
Where can the math moment makers find out more information about you?

00:30:45:18 – 00:31:09:04
Fawn Nguyen
I am on Twitter. Not as much as I’d like to speak to connect, but yeah, I’m on Twitter and please give out my email. I love to interact with teachers and so my email phon p when at gmail.com and I will answer, I try to answer all the emails and yeah, just to reach out. And I have four visual patterns particularly.

00:31:09:04 – 00:31:26:08
Fawn Nguyen
I do have a workshop done with grassroots workshops for parents. Yeah. Because the reason I have the website is also because I want to say at least 90% of teachers who use it use it in a way that I was not my intention, which is to break it down into a table. Values.

00:31:26:10 – 00:31:27:21
Jon Orr
I love that way. Right, right, right, right.

00:31:27:22 – 00:31:31:01
Fawn Nguyen
If you do that right, it takes away the visual of it.

00:31:31:01 – 00:31:36:00
Kyle Pearce
You’ve stripped away the whole point. The whole point. Right. And we’ve talked about that.

00:31:36:00 – 00:31:51:02
Fawn Nguyen
Itself, right? Yes. You know, ten different ways to see this rather than really if you strip it down to just count up the objects and it just one way and then they look for the common difference, whatever. Yeah. Well, and once you teach that, it’s hard anti to it. So Totally.

00:31:51:04 – 00:31:52:21
Jon Orr
Totally. I love that. Yeah. Yeah that’s.

00:31:52:21 – 00:32:16:09
Kyle Pearce
Hard. That’s definitely something we’ve talked about quite a bit is this idea you have this beautiful support in the visual, you have this opportunity a gateway into seeing it grow, into seeing where these pieces are coming from, where it’s coming from, or where it’s shrinking from. And we’re saying like, you know what? Don’t even worry about that. Like, let’s just let’s just fire it over here.

00:32:16:09 – 00:32:23:08
Kyle Pearce
And it’s sort of like, well, almost in a way, what was the point? Not that the table of values is never helpful, but is it intimately here?

00:32:23:12 – 00:32:25:07
Jon Orr
So I think one way that.

00:32:25:07 – 00:32:47:23
Fawn Nguyen
I would say it is teachers hold off on it, I guess, because then, oh, now we’re looking for slope. It serves a different purpose, one that table values. So yeah, and then variations of running that. For example, I love the one where because my kids get so good at it, honestly, just because we imagine being a routine so bad that I start thinking of other ways to facilitate it.

00:32:47:23 – 00:32:57:10
Fawn Nguyen
And I love the one where I simply show one step and they need to create the before and after. So imagine all that rule with a pattern.

00:32:57:10 – 00:33:11:18
Jon Orr
Yeah, I love it for sure. It gives so much opportunity for students to kind of step into it and then you can slowly unfold after that. So fun. Before we say our goodbyes here, if you had to leave our listeners with one big idea or one key takeaway, what would that be?

00:33:11:20 – 00:33:31:20
Fawn Nguyen
Back to the magic wand I was thinking about is if there’s one thing I want kids to love math, and so I want math to be right up there with recess quizzes, you know, Hey, our school. Nathan Yeah, but they can talk about what happened at recess, and I think I just want kids to enjoy mathematics and to enjoy it.

00:33:31:20 – 00:33:54:19
Fawn Nguyen
That means they get to explore and play. So if we as teachers have the same mindset that we use the word play, because that’s what I say, I say to my kids, Oh, here’s the problem. Let’s play with this problem instead of Let’s work on this problem. I actually say play it because it’s about investigation. The word investigation doesn’t come into mathematics the way that science uses investigate in science a lot.

00:33:54:21 – 00:34:18:08
Fawn Nguyen
Why can’t we say the same word in mathematics? Because to me, that’s what it is. It’s play, it’s investigation, it’s beautiful, all that good stuff. So I want teachers to walk away with a lightness to mathematics to enjoy, but for them to pass that on, I keep thinking about the teachers. It’s hard to sell something, a product without us loving it ourselves.

00:34:18:10 – 00:34:25:14
Fawn Nguyen
If we can get teachers to love mathematics the way that it can be loved, right, that will be contagious to the students.

00:34:25:16 – 00:34:37:21
Kyle Pearce
Yes. 100%. We’ve talked about. I said math class often times is like selling vacuum cleaners, right. To someone that doesn’t own carpet and you’re there. And if you don’t like the vacuum either.

00:34:37:23 – 00:34:39:15
Fawn Nguyen
My advice is.

00:34:39:17 – 00:35:03:21
Kyle Pearce
You’ve got a hard one and there’s an entrepreneur out there, Alex Hermosa, who does a lot of discussion and speaking in terms of the business world, and he says, like, if you don’t believe in your product, then you’re never going to sell. And ultimately that’s what we’re doing as educators, whether you’re math teacher full time all day long, or whether you are teaching six subjects and you’re an elementary, it’s like you got to go in there and you got to sell it.

00:35:03:21 – 00:35:24:00
Kyle Pearce
Guess what? If there’s a subject area that maybe isn’t in your favorite subject, it’s your job for you to love it. So 100%, that’s such a great key takeaway. I love it. Math make students like it and enjoy it just like they look forward and enjoy recess. Fine. It’s been awesome having you here. We can’t wait to have you back.

00:35:24:02 – 00:35:46:04
Kyle Pearce
I’m looking at the time here where we are recording this and we are just under one month away as we record this podcast episode and we’re looking forward to hearing that session on November 17th. Friends Sign Up Free Live Event Summit dot make math moments dot com and fun. Have yourself an amazing remainder of your day and we’ll see you soon.

00:35:46:06 – 00:35:50:16
Fawn Nguyen
Same with you guys. Thank you so much. What an honor. Thank you very much. I appreciate you guys.

00:35:50:22 – 00:36:16:12
Jon Orr
The honors ours. Thanks so much. All right. There you have it. That conversation with Fawn. Again. She is going to be presenting at the 2023 Make Math Moments Virtual Summit coming up November 17th, 18th and 19th, 2023. If you haven’t registered, get yourself over there at summit dot make math moments dot com. Kyle In this episode, we chatted with a bunch of things about her session coming up at the summit, but also what teachers are going to learn when they go to that session.

00:36:16:12 – 00:36:39:23
Jon Orr
But I think what stood out to me in regards to the six parts of our tree, an effective mathematics program, was the branches which are the teacher move, the pedagogical content, knowledge, things that we do in our classroom to engage our students, to get deeper thinking out of our students. And what I particularly thought was hit home for me was the idea of almost prioritizing.

00:36:39:23 – 00:37:06:22
Jon Orr
We talked about prioritizing the eight mathematical practices, the standards, thinking about those practice standards as the focal point of mathematics, like what are we doing? And we’re using the content as a means to get at those standards. I think we’ve got it backwards for a long time. When we talked about that by saying We’ve got to fit these things in so that I can get my content out, but actually use the content as fuel to start the fire of the actual practice standards.

00:37:06:24 – 00:37:26:09
Kyle Pearce
I love that. And as soon as we start talking about the branches, what pops into my mind is the roots of the tree. And this came out and it could be hidden, right? Just like roots often are. They are below the surface of the ground, but they are so important, they’re so intricate, they span so wide beyond that tree to ensure that it’s strong and balanced.

00:37:26:09 – 00:37:55:09
Kyle Pearce
And the reality is, is that it’s really hard to have strong branches of our tree that pedagogical content knowledge, it’s hard to have that happening and doing it effectively and intentionally if our roots are not strong. And what I heard Fawn talking about was her experi ence taking a course and then starting to see the visualizing of the mathematics, visualizing mathematics often times is very connected to the roots of the tree.

00:37:55:11 – 00:38:22:00
Kyle Pearce
And it’s not about memorization, it’s not about memorizing the visual, it’s about seeing the mathematics and seeing how it grows and develops. So when I think about the branches, I find we often really focus on them. We focus on the leaves, those resources quite a bit, and we focus on the branches quite a bit. And the reality is, is that without strong roots and without nurturing those roots, we are not going to see the intended results.

00:38:22:00 – 00:38:40:11
Kyle Pearce
So if that sounds like you, if you’re going, holy smokes, I’ve been focusing on all these moves in the classroom, but I’m not seeing the payoff. I’m not seeing the reward. Maybe, maybe, just maybe, you want to sniff around those roots. Of course, the eight practices you mention, that’s what fun is going to be talking about at the summit.

00:38:40:17 – 00:39:05:16
Kyle Pearce
Now, maybe you are registered for the summit over at Summit dot, make math moments dot com. Or maybe you’re listening to this. After the summit, you’re going, holy smokes, I missed an awesome opportunity to dig in here with fun. One of over 30 different sessions that are available you can head over to make math moments dot com forward slash academy because all of the summit sessions not just from this year but every year.

00:39:05:16 – 00:39:25:11
Kyle Pearce
This is the fifth session. We now have over 100 summit sessions available inside the academy and that’s just one part of the academy that you get when you join and become a member. So head on over there, make math moments dot com forward slash academy. If you are not yet a member, you are missing out. So go ahead and do that.

00:39:25:11 – 00:39:42:14
Kyle Pearce
And if you want to learn more about the tree because you’re going branches, leaves, roots like what are we talking about here? You can learn about the six parts of an effective math program, both at the district level or at the classroom level over at make math moments dot com forward slash report.

00:39:42:16 – 00:40:02:19
Jon Orr
Folks don’t forget that the show notes are over at make math moms dot com for episode 259. For this particular episode we put all the links that we discussed here today in there plus we’ve got the summit link if you want to register also the link to the six parts of the tree and the report get on over there the make that moments dot com for episode 259.

00:40:02:21 – 00:40:11:07
Kyle Pearce
Well until next time math mom and make her friends. I’m Kyle Pearce and I’m Jon Orr. High fives for us.

00:40:11:09 – 00:40:15:07
Jon Orr
And the high five for you.

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The Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast with Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr
Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building a math classroom that you wish you were in.


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