Message from the President

Deidra Baker, ICTM President


My name is Deidra Baker and I am the current president of ICTM. I hope you are having a great 2019 so far. ICTM is excited to announce that Michael Fenton of Desmos will be the keynote speaker, as well as offer sessions at our October 14, 2019 conference at Valley High School in West Des Moines! We have lots of other exciting news in the newsletter, so please keep reading. We are on Facebook at Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics and on Twitter as @iowamath. Tag us, hashtag #Iowamath so we can see all the amazing math and math teaching out there! Think spring.


2019 ICTM Keynote Speaker Michael Fenton

Michael Fenton Will Be Keynote at the 2019 ICTM Conference

We are pleased to announce that Michael Fenton will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 annual conference of the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics. According to the Desmos website, Michael joined the Desmos Teaching Faculty in August 2015. Drawing on his experience as a classroom teacher, graduate school instructor, curriculum writer, and professional development consultant, Michael loves exploring how to use technology in ways that foster curiosity and creativity in the math classroom. He graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Science in General Mathematics and holds Master of Arts degrees in Education and Mathematics. Michael currently lives in Fresno, CA, with his beautiful wife Heather and their four energetic children. On the link above you can see “BOAT”, which Michael lists as his favorite Desmos graph. The equations used to create this graph are in the newsletter above as well.

Government Update

I am writing this on January 31, 2019. The Iowa Legislature has been in session for about three weeks now, so there are many bills being filed regarding education. The Federal Government is also working on issues related to education. NCTM has been consulting with White House staff about a five-year STEM education project, Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education (click on the title for program details or see the list of links at the end of this article). Our NCTM representatives are calling for programs that meaningfully integrate mathematics and statistics education priorities for funding. This outreach will continue with NCTM reaching out to federal Department of Education staff regarding Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics (NCTM, 2018) to provide updates to policymakers on what NCTM finds is needed to improve high school mathematics education for all students.

Remember that NCTM consultants are our voice in Washington DC. Currently (as I write this) NCTM is joining 48 other national education and advocacy organizations in responding to the Federal Department of Education’s decision to eliminate School Discipline Guidance of 2014. NCTM’s position is to keep children in school, eliminate and not enable discrimination. You can view NCTM’s announcement about this, including a link to the policy in question by clicking on this link or with the URL at the end of the article.

Governor Reynolds, in her State of the State address on January 14, indicated she will ask for an increase of $9.3 million in funding for pK-12 schools. She has also asked that the Regent’s funding increase by $18 million, matching the Regents request for funding. Remember that the state’s budget starts with the Governor’s proposed budget, which is presented to the Legislature for debate, sent back to the Governor for approval of the new version. This means we will not know what education funding will be for the fiscal year 2020 until this process is completed later in the year.

Several of the bills that have been filed will be familiar. Two bills were filed, that have already been withdrawn, eliminating the requirement for teachers who graduate from Iowa programs to take a nationally normed, end of program test/assessment. In its place, a new bill have been filed keeping the test, but removing the requirement that a new teacher’s score be in the upper 25 percentile to get a license. Instead, the Department of Education would set the cut off. There are various bills regarding the authority of school districts, including one that would limit their ability to deny a charter school application, Another bill filed is about replacing Dillon’s Rule (where local government powers are derived from the legislature) with Home Rule for school districts, which is when local governments’, in this case school districts’ power is derived from Iowa’s constitution. I highlight these two bills since they are sort of contradictory when it comes to local control in Iowa’s education. It might be a rollercoaster session in Des Moines again. Stay tuned.

None of the bills I have read are specifically about mathematics teaching and learning in the state, but all of the bills related to education that are filed could impact the work mathematics educators do in Iowa. If you want more information on any of the education related bills or resolutions filed during this Legislative session , use this link found on the Iowa Department of Education’s website. You can also check the monthly updates I write during the school year, where I share current government happenings. To read these, more timely updates, visit ICTM’s website , open the News tab, then select Government Updates.

State Math Supervisor

From the State Math Supervisor

Once again, Iowa mathematics educators did not disappoint! Record numbers attended the 2018 ICTM Conference to hear Bill McCallum speak! We have also seen an impressive number of educators taking the Number Sense Courses. Now, as this goes to print, Kendal Hunt, an Iowa based company will have the “certified” copy of the Illustrative resource. So many exciting things happening in Iowa with mathematics and for impact on students!

On April 11, 2019, Dr. Robert Berry, the current NCTM

president will be in Iowa to present to the Statewide leadership team for mathematics. He will be presenting on access and equity. Dr. Berry was one of the authors of Principles to Actions.

I would encourage us all to work through the two modules that are part of the Principles to Actions Toolkit. There are two on the Guiding Principles of Equity and Access. One is Equitable Pedagogy and the other is Using Identity and Agency to Frame Access and Equity .

Just released: Professional learning modules on implementing the Mathematics Standards. Now available through the AEA Learning Online System :

  • ●  Standards and Enacted Curriculum - Module 1

  • ●  Instructional Practices - Module 2

  • ●  Instructional Materials - Module 3

The modules may also be taken as part of a self-paced course for license renewal credit (fee required). Search for the modules using these directions: English Language Arts/Literacy or Mathematics .

For questions, contact April Pforts (Mathematics) at (515) 314-6243 or , or Deborah Cleveland (AEA Learning Online) at .

Call to Action: Consider becoming an advocate for access and equity and the standards by doing the modules listed above and tweeting it out! Be sure to tag @iowamath @apriliowamath #iowamath .

April Pforts

State Supervisor of Mathematics

Iowa Department of Education Questions or comment, feel free to email me at

Community links to sign-up:

  • ●  IA Coaching Sign-up : General

  • ●  IA Core Advocates Sign-up : Standards

  • ●  IA Principles to Actions Sign-up : Instructional Practices

  • ●  IA Number Sense Sign-up : Numeracy

  • ●  IA IM/OpenUp Sign-up : 6th-8th resources

  • ●  IA Desmos Sign-up : Desmos

Elementary Vice President

Hello ICTM members! My name is Angie Shindelar and I serve on the ICTM Board as the Vice-President for Elementary. My husband and I have two adult children who were both recently married. We keep telling them and their spouses how excited we are to join the grandparent world. No pressure. :)

I previously taught elementary and middle school math at Nodaway Valley CSD. I am currently a Math Consultant for Green Hills AEA. I enjoy supporting teachers in learning around math content and instructional strategies. This is an exciting time to be a math educator. Momentum has been building across the U.S. in recent years to improve math teaching and learning.

The teaching and learning of basic facts has been the theme of my two previous articles. You can read them here and here if you missed them. The most recent article examined the difference between memorization and automaticity. In this article I will discuss their cousin, fluency.

The Iowa Core Math Standards for K-3 use “fluently” to describe expectations for learning the basic facts. The specific standards are listed here:

•Fluently add and subtract within 5. (K.OA.5.)

•Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. Use strategies such as counting on; making ten (e.g., 8 + 6 = 8 + 2 + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14); decomposing a number leading to a ten (e.g., 13 – 4 = 13 – 3 – 1 = 10 – 1 = 9); using the relationship between addition and subtraction (e.g., knowing that 8 + 4 = 12, one knows 12 – 8 = 4); and creating equivalent but easier or known sums (e.g., adding 6 + 7 by creating the known equivalent 6 + 6 + 1 = 12 + 1 = 13). (1.OA.6.)

•Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.2 By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers. (2.OA.2.)

•Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 × 5 = 40, one knows 40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers. (3.OA.7.)

While the Iowa Core Math Standards provide clear expectations for learning the basic facts, questions are common about the authors’ intent of the word fluently. In thinking back to our own experiences learning basic facts, for most of us, the expectation was memorization. Therefore, we typically equate fluency with memorization. However, the use of the word fluently in the standards hints at a broader definition. For example, first and second graders are expected to demonstrate fluency for addition and subtraction facts by using various listed strategies and the inverse relationship of the operations. Third graders are expected to fluently multiply and divide by understanding the inverse relationship of the operations and by using properties of operations. So, if the intent of using fluency as a description in the standards was memorization, why would lengthy descriptions of strategies be given? You really don’t need strategies to memorize. You just memorize, right?

The National Research Council provided us with what has become the accepted research-based definition of fluency: “skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently, and appropriately” (National Research Council, 2001) This definition expands fluency beyond memorization. Below the four parts of the definition described in relation to the K-3 fact fluency standards. They show us that the authors likely had the National Research Council’s definition in mind.

Flexibly means the student can describe more than one way to solve the problem using deriving strategies. One strategy may be preferred, however s/he can describe another strategy when prompted. The standards describe a variety of strategies for the student to experience and be familiar with.

Accurately speaks for itself. No matter what strategy is used or if a fact has been committed to memory, the expectation is that it be accurate. This is inferred in the standards in the expectation to know the facts from memory, in that, when students have had enough experience practicing a strategy they commit the fact to memory.

Efficiently coincides with the developmental progression of how children solve problems described in Teaching Children Mathematics: Cognitively guided instruction (Carpenter T. P., et al, 2014). Children begin as direct modelers counting out objects for each addend and then recounting all of the objects to find the sum. With many experiences and discussion they move into counting on. In the past, students were expected to jump from counting on to knowing the facts. Research has helped us understand there is a critical phase between counting on and knowing the facts called deriving. Most of the strategies described in the fact fluency standards are deriving strategies. With many experiences and practice students will move away from counting on and use deriving. When looking at other standards in K-3 one can see expectations that support this progression. Many of the K-3 standards describe building understanding of number relationships which is foundational to understanding derived strategies. Solving a fact efficiently includes using a derived strategy with ease and knowing from memory.

Appropriately also coincides with the developmental progression described above. We expect that, with many experiences and practice, students will use derived strategies with ease. Note that counting on would not be considered appropriate. Counting on is at the beginning stages of the developmental progression. We do not want students to rely on counting as a fallback strategy for a forgotten fact. This would include skip counting for multiplication and division.

Thinking about these four parts of the fluency definition, consider the three student examples below to see what fluency might look like when achieved.

T:  What is 7 + 8?

S1: Um…(brief think time)...15.

T: I noticed you thought about that one a bit. Tell me how you solved it.

S1: Well 7 and 8 are both close to 10 so had to decide which one

     I wanted to make into a 10. I chose the 8 because it is closer.

                So I took 2 from the 7 to make the 10. Then I added 10 + 5.

T:  What is 7 + 8?

S2: Um…(brief think time)...15.

T: Tell me about your strategy. How did you solve 7 + 8?

S2: Well I was going to make a 10 with the 8, but then I saw that it would

     be just one more than 7 + 7. And I know 7 + 7 = 14.

T:  What is 7 + 8?

S3:  15

T:  That was quick! You know that one automatically now!

S3:  Yep, I have practiced that one a lot, so I know it.

T:  What strategy did you use when you practiced?

S3:  Doubles.7 + 8 is just one more than 7 + 7.

These students demonstrate fluency with flexible, accurate, efficient, and appropriate strategies. They either knew the fact or used a derived strategy with ease. The biggest benefit to deriving is you don’t lose the strategy over time. When presented with a fact that may have been previously committed to memory, you can recall the derived strategy typically used and solve the fact. Unfortunately, a common reaction to having forgotten a memorized fact is to count, or worse yet, guess.

Teaching derived strategies is not new. Many textbook lessons have included lessons on these strategies for many years. Why, then, do students still struggle with fluency? The answer to this seems to center around the time given to learn and the experiences provided.

Derived strategies take a considerable amount of time to develop. However, basic fact instruction is typically compacted into one chapter, early in the school year, expecting students to learn strategies quickly and with minimal practice. Spreading the instruction across the year focusing on one strategy at a time is an alternative way to think about achieving fluency for basic facts. More time per strategy can be given for instruction and practice. Time, however, will not solve everything.

It is also essential to consider the kinds of experiences students engage in to learn about each strategy. Students need many opportunities to think about how a strategy works and a lot of practice in using it. A variety of visual models and discussion, thoughtful ways to recording the thinking, word problems with number choices supporting the strategy, and games to practice using the strategy are all important to the learning and efficient use of each strategy. Over time the strategy becomes automatic and fluency is realized.

Recent research in fact fluency suggests that games are the best way to practice and reach fluency. Games that have been specifically designed to practice a strategy, such as using a double, provide multiple opportunities to practice a strategy. Games also provides practice without the time pressure often found in timed tests. If we want students to use derived strategies, we have to create settings that allow the student to practice the thinking and build fluency over time.

To summarize, fact fluency in the Iowa Core Mathematics standards has a much broader definition than memorization. To reach the desired fluency we so desperately want our students to achieve, we must rethink what it means to be fluent and give careful consideration to the time and experiences we provide. If you are interested in reading more about basic fact fluency check out Jennifer Bay Williams and Gina Kling’s work. They have written several articles for NCTM in recent years and have just published a book, Math Fact Fluency, 60+ Games and Assessment Tools to Support Learning and Retention (ASCD, 2019).

I hope you have found my thinking about fluency with basic facts helpful. I am always interested in others’ thoughts about this important topic. Contact me with thoughts or questions at

Great Prairie AEA

Great Prairie AEA 2019 is full of great experiences for our friends in the Great Prairie Region of Iowa. The AEA is providing exciting opportunities for learning and professional development. Teachers and coaches have the opportunity to participate in SOAR Fraction Training and SOAR Ratio and Proportion Training in Burlington this January and February. S upporting O ngoing A chievement R esponsively tools and activities help gain information on student ability, then help students learn skills to fill their learning gaps. Teachers who are using Illustrative Math Open Up Resources Curriculum are meeting in January for a collaboration day to share their experiences, celebrations, and roadblocks. A rea teachers are excited and ready to tackle the challenges of teaching Math during the second half of the school year!

There are also several upcoming chances for professional growth this spring for teachers, coaches, and administrators in the Great Prairie Region. Along with many other schools, GPAEA districts will be working on and completing their Self-Assessment of MTSS Implementation (SAMI) and Universal Tier Tools. This reflection of the school’s system gives buildings a start for improvement and growth.

There is exciting news upcoming on the national level. NCTM is having two conferences in the Midwest in 2020. Save the date for the Annual NCTM Conference on April 1-4, 2020 in Chicago (it’s the NCTM 100 year surely not to miss!) and the Regional NCTM conference in St. Louis October 21-24, 2020. Having two NCTM conferences in the Midwest in the same year is very exciting...make a point to attend!

Since there are multiple opportunities for conferences in 2020, ICTM needs to think about when we would like to hold our yearly conference. Normally the ICTM annual conference is held in October. With the 2 national conferences in the spring and fall of 2020, would there be a better time for the ICTM conference? Spring? Summer? As Conference Co-Chair, we welcome your suggestions! In the meantime, plan on attending the ICTM Annual conference at Valley High School in West Des Moines in October, 2019.

Back by popular demand, Karen Karp, Ph.D from the University of Louisville will be here April 29, 2020 for grades K-2 and April 30, 2020 for grades 3-5. If you haven’t heard Karen before, get the dates on your calendar. Her focus on MTSS for elementary students inspires teachers with fantastic interventions and assessments that can be used immediately in class.

Look for more information to come.

Entering my second year on the ICTM Board, I look forward to continue my work with the outstanding educators in the Great Prairie Region and beyond. If you have any suggestions for classes that you would like to see at the GPAEA this summer, please let us know. We aim to please! Follow me on Twitter @jayyouelleyeee or contact me with questions and suggestions at .

— Julie Yurko
GPAEA Regional Director

Central Rivers AEA - Continued Learning Opportunities During the School Year

You are knee-deep in the middle of the school year. I am sure the last thing you are thinking about is your own professional development needs when you have the needs of so many students to care for. With that being said, being a life-long learner is very important for a professional educator to be able to keep up on what is new in the world of education, and to make sure that you don’t stay stagnant with your approach. I always like to have an ongoing professional development goal for myself during the school year. This year, I was fortunate enough to take a class in connection with the State Mathematics Leadership Team focusing on number sense for preschool to second grade students. I am a middle school teacher, but I found this to be of great value in helping me see some of the possible reasons that my middle school students struggle with number sense, and what I may be able to do to adjust their struggles.

Here are a few examples of options you may want to take advantage of during the school year:

1. Visiting other teacher’s classrooms

It’s easy to live in your own bubble in your classroom, especially if you are a rural teacher where you are the only person who does what you do. But even if you’re not, haven’t you ever wondered what else you could be doing, or how something you have only heard about actually works in the classroom? With the state and national push for the Mathematical Practices Standards and Effective Mathematical Teaching Practices, it’s always nice to get out and see how this works in someone else’s classroom. I have people come in all the time to watch problem-solving tasks in action, or to check out how self-pacing works, and I know there are hundreds of great teachers who would welcome you into their classrooms. If you are not sure who would be good to watch, reach out to your AEA for recommendations. Not sure if your administration would let you take a day off to do this? From my experience, if you present a solid plan of why you would be doing this and the benefits that would come from such an experience (always relating to current district goals), I can’t imagine you would have too much trouble convincing them.

2. Having a book study

Finding a common text to read and discuss with your colleagues is a wonderful way to expand your thinking and find ways to improve your practice. If you do not have people to communicate with locally, set up a group with other area teachers and host small gatherings. Also consider using Twitter as the great equalizer. You could get a group of people together from across the nation that have like interests as you, and discuss the questions through a Twitter Chat. Most people are familiar with communicating with people over social media...this would be no different.

Some books I would recommend would include NCTM’s Taking Action Series, which is a practical look at teaching using the Effective Mathematical Teaching Practices (there is a book for elementary, middle school, and high school). NCTM’s Catalyzing Change is also a thought-provoking read for anyone invested in the middle school, to high school, to college transition in regards to mathematics.

3) Brush up on your content knowledge

Truth be told, some people are not comfortable with some of the content they are teaching. This could be for many reasons. Maybe you were thrust into a role that license-wise you can teach, but you have never actually done. Even though the standards were updated a while ago, maybe there are some of the different portions of your grade level content that you don’t fully understand. It might even be that you want to be more comfortable with grade level content above or below your own you so you can better understand where your students are coming from, and where they are headed.

In any of those cases, I would refer you to Khan Academy Missions. Khan Academy Missions lets you choose a certain grade level or class, like 8th grade or Algebra 2, and try to master all skills up to 100%. This is actually something many of my students do on the side, and enjoy as a nice change of pace. There are helpful videos along the way if you get stuck.

  • Go to

  • Make an account, or for most people, sign in using Google

  • Click on “courses” in the upper left-hand corner

  • Select the grade or class you want to explore

  • When that page for the grade or class appears, click in the middle of the screen where it says “Looking for Missions”

  • You will start with a quick preassessment. Along the way you will complete mastery challenges. The lists of skills are represented by little boxes on the left side of the screen. For more information on missions, go to this link:

Hopefully these three options will give you something to think about so you can continuously be getting better as a teacher and professional We want our students to always be improving. We should want to improve as well!

Dr. Clayton M. Edwards

Central Rivers AEA Regional Director


Green Hills AEA

Green Hills AEA

Greetings from the Green Hills AEA area in southwest Iowa. I will begin by introducing myself; my name is Deb Roberts and I am currently a math instructor at Southwestern my students do on the side, and enjoy as a nice change of pace. There are helpful videos along the way if you get stuck.

Go to
Make an account, or for most people, sign in using Google
Click on “courses” in the upper left-hand corner
Select the grade or class you want to explore
When that page for the grade or class appears, click in the middle of the screen where it says “Looking for Missions”

Community College in Creston, Iowa. I received my BS Ed in Mathematics from NWMSU in Maryville, Missouri and my Master of School Mathematics degree from ISU. This is my twenty-fifth year of teaching—I taught four years at Lenox Community School District, seventeen years in the Corning Community School District (now Southwest Valley, Corning & Villisca), and have been at SWCC since the fall of 2015.

I teach a wide variety of math courses from remedial course through College Algebra and Trigonometry and have found this environment challenging but very enjoyable. My students run the gamut from just out of high school to non-traditional students seeking to resume their education—possibly from a change in life circumstances or maybe just the right timing for new adventures. We have a wonderful mixture of local students and those from across the country as well as numerous international students.

As for most of you, it’s been very difficult getting into a routine this semester as the weather has been difficult. We were able to hold our annual NACEP meeting on January 10t h . NACEP stands for National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships and this is where the high school faculty in our area that teach dual-credit courses for SWCC at their local schools come spend half a day with the college faculty teaching the same courses. We discuss curriculum, assessment, and any other topics of interest/concern. It’s important that these classes match up closely as they are receiving the same college credits. We are privileged to have some very capable instructors teaching dual-credit classes at Murray, Clarke, and Nodaway Valley schools. We also have several high school students who are within easy driving distance of our campuses commute to classes.

I am looking forward to serving on the ICTM board over the next couple of years as we strive to maintain a high standard of mathematics education in Iowa through communication, support, and the exploration of new ideas.

— Deb Roberts
Green Hills AEA Regional Director