NCTM Speakers

I just returned from the annual NCTM conference in San Antonio. Just amazing… Can you say: RIVERWALK? How awesome was that?!

There was also some awesome math involved, as in ‘amazing speakers.’ Did that include you? Did you apply to speak? Well…why not? What’s holding you back from applying?

It’s really not a bad process, whether it’s a local, regional, or national conference. I mean, sure…you could get rejected. But what if you got ACCEPTED? Wouldn’t that be something?!

I’ll just bet you’ve got some cool math idea brewing in your brain. Why not share it? Seriously…you have nothing to lose.

Where to Begin

  • Start with the strands. What are the math themes are and how can your topic be related to one of the conference strands?
  • Decide if you want to do a Burst (30 minutes); a Session (60 minutes); or a Workshop (75 minutes with hands-on activities).
  • Check out the NCTM conference rubric. Make sure you maximize your proposal points with what counts.
  • Your title & description matter more than you know. These will be in the program book and on the conference app. People will make YES or NO decisions to attend your talk based on them. What will you say? Take the time to write a carefully crafted mathematical response. Even study previous conference books if you have one.
  • Check out Robert Kaplinsky’s blog about the application process. Also, he and Dan Myer gave a talk at the 2017 NCTM conference about applying and speaking. Watch the Facebook Live video today before you submit your proposal tomorrow!

Now What?

Now you wait…

It sucks, but your proposal submissions are months early, and honestly, you forget about them. Then one day, when you least expect it, you will get an email from NCTM. You will either be accepted, rejected, or waitlisted. And hey…2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

So, gather your thoughts and get to work! The next annual meeting will be in Washington DC in April 2018, and proposals are due May 1, 2017. And after that, regionals…Ugh!

Peace out–I’ve got proposals to submit!


#xmath #NCTM #Proposals #Math

Find Your Fred

I just returned from the NCTM’s annual conference. This year it was in San Antonio. Having never been to San Antonio, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Riverwalk as well as the simple charm the city itself offered. I’d go back to San Antonio in a heartbeat, with or without a conference.

While in Texas, I got to hang out with several math friends. I’m always so grateful to the Park City Math Institute for connecting me to so many talented people. Any given math conference becomes like a mini PCMI reunion: Gail E, Ashli, Tina, Ben, Matt, Carl, Dylan, Ron, Brian, Mary, Vicki, Suzanne, Gail B, Nicole, Ryan, and of course, Fred.

I say ‘of course, Fred’ because he has helped me bridge the gap between PCMI and NCTM.  In fact, he has helped many of the aforementioned people get more professionally involved. Most of my friends were there as speakers and/or were on the Program Committee. Fred had a hand in all of it with his various recommendations and encouragements.

Without Fred, I would not have applied to speak. He gives great advice on how to write a proposal so that it will likely get accepted. He should know: Fred has been reading and writing them for years. He is a regular and popular speaker, as well as a frequent committee member.

Thanks to Fred pushing me, I put myself out there professionally, and it’s paid off. I am doing more beyond the classroom than I ever have before. I am speaking at conferences. I am on committees.  I am now working for PCMI.

And…Suzanne even asked me to do an Ignite talk in San Antonio.

If you don’t know what an Ignite Talk is, listen up: You have five minutes to tell your story, and the PowerPoint slides advance every 15 seconds, whether you are ready or not.

That’s when I really started thinking a lot about the impact that Fred has had on me in the years since I’ve met him. I knew then my Ignite talk would be an homage to Fred.

So I called it, “Six Degrees,” and used the whole ‘six degrees of separation’ theory to connect Fred not just to me but also to the rest of the math world. He’s like the Mayor of math circles. You simply cannot walk through a convention center without being stopped multiple times by this friend, or that colleague, or some former student.

Fred knew he was in my talk, but I don’t think he expected the talk to take the turn it did: The Six Degrees of FRED: Fred as a teacher; a PCMI participant; an NCTM ambassador; a math speaker; an author. Fred as a friend and mentor.

Yes, you Fred, are the total package: professional, caring, funny, and intelligent. Absolutely one of the best. Everyone needs someone like Fred. Find YOUR Fred.


#xmath #NCTMannual #SanAntonio #Ignite #FindYourFred #TeamFred

P.S. There is a video to follow. But for now, here is the PDF. Stay tuned.


The People’s Choice


By the way, she won.

60,981,118 to 60,350,241

Popular Vote: Clinton

Hillary Clinton didn’t just win the popular vote. She won it by a substantial margin. An ironic twist in an election in which her opponent repeatedly said the system was rigged against him.

Just two days before Election Day, Republican businessman Donald Trump tweeted: “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.”


noAs it turns out, without the Electoral College, Trump probably wouldn’t be the president-elect.

But the numbers that came out on Election Night were not complete. State officials are still counting millions of provisional and absentee ballots. Millions of mail-in and absentee ballots haven’t been counted yet.

Most were cast in the Clinton-leaning states of California, Washington, and New York. Alas, these are not swing states.

So while these uncounted votes may grow Clinton’s popular lead, they absolutely will not change the course of the election, no matter how much we may want them to.

That math is settled; Trump holds an insurmountable lead in swing states, which turned his popular defeat into a sizable electoral victory (290 to 232: Trump). All the votes in liberal-leaning New York and California will not change that.



But she still won.hillary

The popular vote.

The people’s choice.

My choice.


#xmath #Election2016 #ImWithHer #Michele2020

Lie to Me

In the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election, I am numb.

How could this have happened?

Most polls said she was projected to win. They all predicted a comfortable Hillary Clinton victory.

Yet most every poll—at the local, state, and national level—completely missed Donald Trump’s election night win.


Forecast data from, a website that focuses on opinion poll analysis, gave Clinton a 71.4% chance of winning compared to Trump’s 28.6%. Hell, the Princeton Election Consortium had Hillary winning by as much as >99%.

But every poll, and every prediction based on it, is probabilistic in nature: There’s always a chance the leader loses.

And last night the poll leader lost.

While Hillary Clinton may have won the popular vote, she lost the electoral vote 279 to 228. And in the end, that’s the 270+ number that counts.

The math doesn’t lie.



Say it isn’t so…

dataTell me this is all a bad dream.

Tell me those states that are too close to call are more blue than red. I mean WTF, Michigan?!

Tell me I’m not going to feel like we’ve just conceded decades of progress for women and minorities and any other subgroup who feels marginalized.

Tell me we’re going to repeal that damn popular vote/electoral college vote garbage.

You know what: Just tell me some math; some rational, logical, empowering math; not this bullshit pollster math. Give me some real y = mx + b shit. I need to take comfort in delta y and delta x right now.


Pollsters will need weeks or months to sort through what happened. Meanwhile, we have the next four years to sort through this mess.

See you at the polls.


#xMath #Election2016 #Michelle2020


Math Love Stories

Math tells three of the saddest love stories.

Parallel lines have a lot in common but were never meant to meet.



You might think that is sad.

But a Tangent line meets once and drifts apart forever.

Which is pretty sad too.


And don’t forget Asymptotes, who can get closer and closer but can never get together.

asymptote lines

Sad indeed.

Had I never been to PCMI, I never would have met the people who have become some of my closest friends. Fortunately, I did make those connections. Like a Tangent, we came together at a particular time and place. Our mathematical friendships fused and together we become greater than the sum of ourselves. I cherish these friendships and daresay I love these people.

Like math, I honestly didn’t know how important these people would become to me.

Maybe that’s why it hurts so much when we go back to living our Parallel lives, math teachers existing side-by-side in our own realities.

IMG_1316Recently I had another Tangential experience with two dear friends. We reconnected to celebrate a milestone birthday. When I tell you we made magic together, believe it. BOOM! The random memories I have of that 28-hour period we were together make me smile no matter what else is going on in my life right now.

My sad, Parallel life right now. God, I miss them terribly. And there are others; you know who you are.

But every conference we attend, every institute we present at, and every birthday we celebrate only give way to the Asymptotes. Our shared histories and common pursuits bring us closer and closer. And in the end lies the wondering: Will we ever be together again? Until THAT time…

Sigh…I can’t keep falling in and out of love like this. It hurts too much.

But math is not all sad love stories.


While I may be sad for my Asymptotic tendencies, I wouldn’t trade that closeness I feel with my math friends for the world. It’s not that I will NEVER see them again; of course I will. The question is when.

My Tangential points have brought me to where I am today, grateful for having had the experiences. Every meeting, every person, every love, every time.

And while we may be leading our Parallel lives, we are living them together, united in our shared destinies.

So here’s to gratitude, and happiness, and most of all, to love.

Lest we forget, we can become a pair of sine (you) and cosine (me) waves, overlapping with ever increasing frequency. Not only would we intersect for the rest of forever, but eventually we would intersect continuously.

sine cosine

Love you. Mean it.


#xmath #MathLoveStories