For any of you reading this who might be thinking, "oh great, he's writing about math - I'm done," I urge you to keep reading this blog post. One of the major things emphasized at this workshop was the idea of persistence in learning new problem-solving strategies by analyzing the simplest of situations. Only later did the complexity increase.
Say you have 20 pennies on a table. You and a friend are playing a game where you can remove 1, 2, or 3 pennies at a time. Determine a strategy to ensure you (or your friend) will always win.
It might seem fairly simple now (or not, depending on your starting knowledge) but it can grow in complexity to include the idea of removing only 1 or 3 pennies. Or maybe you have pennies and dimes and you can remove one penny, one dime, or one of both. You see where I'm going with this? (If you want more games to play with counting, check out this link).
My point is a simple one: workshops like this matter to math teachers (and probably to other content areas as well). According to some recent research, the concept of Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching is growing in importance and should be considered crucial to developing strong math teachers. While I do not profess to be an expert on this subject, I would probably agree: I feel much more enthused to teach math with more useful tools today than I had last week because of this workshop.
I only hope other people take this kind of thing seriously. If you want to join us, there will be more meetings this fall. The next one is September 18. Come have fun!