12 Highlights from the 2018 MNP Annual Conference

|5 min read

Well — 23 May came and went, and with it, the 2018 MNP Annual Conference: a landmark event bringing together educators and experts to tackle the biggest ideas in maths education.

The topic this year? Teaching for assessment. And if that seems like an open ended topic — that’s because it is. We welcomed a wide range of topics, thoughts and presentations on assessment, and our speakers, experts and panel members didn’t disappoint.

Since the conference spanned 8 idea-filled hours, there’s way too much to summarise in one blog post. That’s why we’ve put together a few highlights from our #MNPConf18 hashtag.

Got something to add? Join the conversation with #MNPConf18, or comment on social!

Keynote speaker Tim Oates kicked off the day with one of the most informed perspectives on assessment in the world. Many more highlights to come from this tremendous talk, but here are a couple of high points:

The right questions not only reveal thinking, but stimulate deep thinking – Tim Oats talking assessment #MNPconf18 @ParkfieldSchool pic.twitter.com/NlsGwJZMKC

— Helen Hackett (@HyperHelga) May 23, 2018

Tim Oates “In assessement, questions are everything. Questions have to probe, and they have to measure what’s going on in a child’s mind.” #MNPconf18

— Maths — No Problem! (@MathsNoProblem) May 23, 2018

If you’re a teacher, chances are you know this comic inside out. Well, Dr Chris Harrison from King’s College gave us a fresh take on it during her talk on Classroom Assessment:

New take on this classic pic: what if the animals work together to help each other to get on the tree – and that collaborative pathway is the exam? Dr Chris Harrison #MNPconf18 pic.twitter.com/mKtsdkY4Ai

— Mirkka_J (@Mirkka_J) May 23, 2018

Right on time just after lunch, Dr Yeap Ban Har joined with an International Keynote Address to discuss assessment in Singapore.

This classic quote from George Polya made an appearance:

Better to solve 1 problem in 5 different ways than to solve 5 different problems. @ban_har @MathsNoProblem @SSPPMitcham #MNPconf18

— Helena Bryant (@nenibryant) May 23, 2018

He reminded us that when it comes to assessment, what happens during the task can be just as important as the final product:

Good formative assessment: some things can be seen from the final product, some can be speculated about, but some can't be known without having been there to observe how the learner works on the task. @ban_har #MNPconf18 pic.twitter.com/pb08kES2Wn

— Mirkka_J (@Mirkka_J) May 23, 2018

And highlighted an interesting —albeit controversial! — assessment technique from Singapore. (What do you think?):

Singapore no longer publish the names of top scorers of their national tests, as the MoE felt it was negatively impacting students. What do you think? Was this the right decision? #MNPconf18

— Maths — No Problem! (@MathsNoProblem) May 23, 2018

Dawn Copping’s extremely popular talk Assessment Without Deep Marking cast a critical eye on marking myths:

Dispelling the myths about ‘good’ marking #MNPconf18 @ParkfieldSchool pic.twitter.com/uByHBtP401

— Helen Hackett (@HyperHelga) May 23, 2018

And made many of us reflect on how we assess, and the impact it can have on pupils:

If you’re always giving children next steps & don’t ever just say ‘well done’ & leave it at that – are you always telling the children their work is never good enough? @ParkfieldSchool #MNPconf18 pic.twitter.com/dRoe7AMfx6

— Helen Hackett (@HyperHelga) May 23, 2018

And how “triple assessment” can rob teachers of time — with little benefit to learners:

Reducing teacher workload whilst enhancing assessment & feedback. And end to ‘triple marking’ and assessment that has impact on learning instead. Who is it for? Why are we doing it? #MNPconf18 @ParkfieldSchool pic.twitter.com/10xmhrDyLi

— Helen Hackett (@HyperHelga) May 23, 2018

And the surprising marking practice adopted by her school, Shaw Primary Academy:

No written dialogue in books – no written marking for last five years – and all is fine ? …. food for thought #MNPconf18 @ParkfieldSchool pic.twitter.com/nIkhcbSSPF

— Helen Hackett (@HyperHelga) May 23, 2018

Similarly, the idea of “classic” marking practices — and why we do what we do — came up in the day’s closing panel:

Schools still insisting on using deep marking, written feedback, different coloured pens etc – ‘it’s a bit embarrassing’ – no evidence behind it. Why do we do what we do? Who is it for? Lots to think about @ParkfieldSchool #MNPconf18 pic.twitter.com/7Q7jesUuRL

— Helen Hackett (@HyperHelga) May 23, 2018

Which ties nicely to a general conference theme noticed by @CParkinson535 (and shared by many):

Recurring theme from speakers seems to be do less, better. Less marking frees up time to respond better to during-lesson assessment. #MNPconf18

— Craig Parkinson (@CParkinson535) May 23, 2018

The venue wasn’t bad, either!:

Excited to be in room full of enthusiastic mathematicians @ParkfieldSchool #MNPconf18 pic.twitter.com/q3278N5ysk

— Helen Hackett (@HyperHelga) May 23, 2018

To quote many, it was indeed a clever day for all of us:

Thoroughly enjoying a day that has both provided reassurance about what we’re doing & question what we’re doing & why …. ‘today is a clever day’ – I know because I’m thinking hard #MNPconf18 @ParkfieldSchool pic.twitter.com/PtClFCduAT

— Helen Hackett (@HyperHelga) May 23, 2018

A tremendous thanks to everyone who joined!

It’s not often a shift in pedagogy and thinking happens in an eight hour period. Maybe it’s just us, but we think exactly that happened this past 23 May.

Didn’t make it?

Keep your eyes peeled for more conference content! Plus, there’s pretty much guaranteed to be an MNP course coming up near you for a little extra maths momentum.