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Neera Jackson’s TAGT Experience

April 30, 2011

The TAGT conference in November was my first experience at a TAGT conference.  My expectations were high and I was thrilled when the conference actually met those high expectations.  Not only were the sessions excellent, I was also able to take what I had learned and go back to the classroom to use that new knowledge immediately.

Wednesday I attended an all-day session titled “Meeting the Needs of Mathematically Gifted Students” hosted by Edward Zaccaro.  This gentleman is a dynamic, exciting teacher and I found myself challenged mathematically for the first time in years.  I loved it!  Attending this session reinforced how making math fun and engaging completely pulls in your audience (your students) and helps math come to life for them.  It is true that my head was spinning a bit (in a good way) by days-end, but I didn’t regret it for a moment.

The first session I attended on Thursday talked about the Power to Choose and allowing students to make choices in the ways they demonstrate understanding and apply their knowledge.  I found myself nodding my head in agreement throughout this session.  This session served as a great reminder and two sessions that followed (Inspiration Real-World Independent Projects and Products:  Hundreds of Ways Students can Share Their Discoveries) helped me by adding to my arsenal of projects I already use in the classroom to give my students as many choices as I can.

Two of the mini-sessions I attended focused on math.  The “Kidprov’s Mathematics of Humor (and vice versa)” session gave me a pocket filled with phenomenal, engaging, short, game-type activities that have made reinforcing factors, multiples, division facts, and patterns fun and challenging for my fourth grade students.  “Myths of Mathematically Talented Students” session opened my eyes to many different strategies (beyond the “traditional” methods I was taught as a child) to completing math problems.  My students’ eyes lit up the Monday following the conference when I shared some of these techniques with them.

Another inspiring session was titled “Why You Should Put on a Play for Grades 4-8.”  As a lover of Reader’s Theater and the theater in general, I was excited to see how I could use this genre to engage my students.  While most of the examples during the session focused on language arts and reading skills, I was able to chat with the speaker afterwards and she pointed me to a couple of different websites where possible math scripts might exist.

Beyond the sessions themselves, walking through the exhibits was like spending time in a bookstore for me; so many things to look at that I hardly knew what to explore first!  I was able to purchase some really great math resources to challenge my students and also found an EXCELLENT math Reader’s Theater script book whose scripts have thrilled my students when I use them as an attention-grabber at the beginning of class.  The speaker from the “Products” session had a booth and I was able to get some resources that I’ll be able to reproduce (instead of me creating them from scratch) and make them available to my students for independent enrichment-type activities.  There were other resources I brought back to incorporate into my teaching and share with my teammates as well.

In a nutshell, attending the TAGT conference was an amazing experience for me.  It was exciting to be exposed to different ways of reaching all my students and thrilling to be able take what I had learned and use it immediately in the classroom the following week.  I sincerely appreciate the CGA helping me make a difference in the lives of my students by awarding me a scholarship to this remarkable conference.

Thank you!

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