A Message From Your President, Brooke Fischels


            I can almost detect in the air what a new school year smells and feels like.  Crisp, early, fall-like mornings that give way to stuffy classrooms in the afternoon from the solar heating of late summer.  But, there’s also an energy – a distinct buzz – that it’s time to nurture and develop a new set of students.  What’s not to love about all their spiffy new school supplies, fresh haircuts, and wide-eyed optimism?  And while our students are getting geared up to learn new things, so should we.  

            Frankly, we live in Iowa.  Outside of a handful of districts, we’re all teaching in rural schools.  Your PLC may be amazing, but there’s a larger math community out there that can enrich our ability to teach content with more effective pedagogies and greater student engagement.  Remember the days when each of our districts created our own set of math standards – the ones you knew like the back of your hand because you spent endless summer hours hashing them out with district colleagues?  It would have been an interesting study to look at all those side-by-side.  Just how similar or different were those from district to district?  I fear that if we had embarked on that sort of review, we would likely have discovered just how isolated we really were – and probably still are.  No students can afford to be the bearers of the short-end of the equity stick.  It’s not just good practice to hone our teaching craft; it’s our moral obligation.  A stagnant, isolated curriculum is one of the biggest – and most silent – threats to our students’ potential.

             I hope you view ICTM as I do: a vehicle for collaboration in the broader network of mathematics educators.  I have few other chances to intimately hear about work going on across our state – from our youngest students to our college classrooms in regards to math education.  ICTM has helped me create special bonds with educators, coaches, and consultants across Iowa, given me opportunities to grow professionally though sessions, and fostered new perspectives and ideas from our journal.

            It’s time to focus on our biggest educational challenges, and make a commitment to affect change in those areas.  Maybe you want your students to dialogue more about math concepts, so you implement number talks (or math talks for your discipline) that train students to engage in deep discussions.  Perhaps it’s time you ‘nix the tricks’ that are catchy and fun, but don’t teach the mathematical content you really wanted your students to know in the first place.  Did your district go to a no-textbook curriculum and you need instructional ideas?  That’s how ICTM can support you.  Take advantage of the expertise of our “Iowa math family.”  Join a conference session – better yet – present on what is working for you.  Read or write articles for the journal.  Most of all, engage in your profession because I need you, and so do my students.  Otherwise, we’re just isolated educational silos, where some students get the best education and others don’t even realize what they missed out on.

            It’s a new school year.  Join me – and let’s make this the best year yet by implementing some new best practices.  As my husband would say, “Go teach ‘em up!”  We hope to see you at our fall conference on October 9th.



                                                                                    Brooke  Fischels

                                                                                    ICTM President

October 8 Pre-Conference Offered

Again this year new and future teachers are invited to a special welcome session created just for them.  There is no charge for the ICTM Pre-Conference.  Dinner is included.  Participants will receive free teaching materials and ideas, meet with master teachers, and enjoy fun activities with fun people.  This year’s pre-conference will be Sunday, October 8, starting at 5:45pm at Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines, IA50266.  Registration is not required but is appreciated.  You can register at www.iowamath.org.

Meet Our Keynote Speaker, Max Ray-Riek

Max Ray-Riek works at The Math Forum at NCTM and is the author of the book Powerful Problem Solving. He is a former secondary mathematics teacher who has presented at regional and national conferences on fostering problem solving and communication and valuing student thinking.  He says, ““There’s so much being figured out right now about how math can be taught as a dynamic, engaging subject where everyone has unique ideas that matter… One of the most exciting problems facing the world today is how to teach math in a way that builds on students sharing their ideas.”  You can read a full interview with Max Ray-Riek at http://smts.ca/spotlight-profession-max-ray-riek/ .

From the State Supervisor of Mathematics... Math: The Only Subject That Counts

Welcome back to school!  I sincerely hope that you enjoyed a wonderful summer full of sunny days, time with family and friends, and some time to relax and rejuvenate.  I am so fortunate to be able collaborate with Iowa educators about mathematics and how we can collectively work together.  This year, we will continue to build our networks and communities.  We know it takes a village to raise a child, but it will take a community to ensure IA students are College and Career Ready in mathematics.  As a child of poverty myself, and a first-generation college graduate, I personally know in my heart, mathematics education not only changes futures but it saves lives.

We have all heard of College and Career Ready in mathematics and that it is what we are working towards.  What does it really look like for students? Does this mean that a student graduates?  Or does it mean they attend college?  Or does it mean they can obtain gainful employment?  Yes, it means all of these and more.  

College and Career Ready in mathematics means:

  • I can attend college and not take or pay for aremedial four or five credit mathematics course that does not count towards my program or degree.
    • A student who has to take a remedial mathematics course is more likely to drop out of college.
  • I have the mathematics skills to enter a career or apprenticeship.
    • A car is unable to be fixed by tools of the past alone.  My 2014 car has a computer and can tell you how many miles I will get on a tank of gas based of my driving data from the last tank of gas.
  • I have the mathematics skills to be technically trained for jobs in the military.
    • The world is not becoming any less technical and servicemen today serve in those fields.

We have many great things happening this year.  I am most excited about how connected we are becoming as we continue to leverage technology as a community of learners.  There are so many ways for us to connect with others that are working in the same areas we are.  We can use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, webinars, G+ groups, blogs, etc.  We can connect synchronously or asynchronously anytime or anywhere.   None of us should feel like we do not have a community of experts to learn from, grow with, and be challenged by.   

My Call to Action for you: Find a Community to connect to so you can have “Think Partners” to continue to learn, grow and be challenged as we continue to strive toward College and Career Readiness in Mathematics for IA students.

Join a Community Today!  Many more Communities are developing such as Principles to Actions and others will be announced through the communities below.  Anyone and anyone is welcome to join any of the ones below.  Just fill out a quick form below to get started.

Top 5 Pick (General): Form

  • This community is a great place to start and will help me add you to a community.  Fill this out to stay in the loop.

Instructional Coaches: Form

  • This community is geared toward coaches, teacher leaders (even-self identified), and anyone wanting to learn about coaching mathematics.  

Core Advocates: Form

  • This community will be learning about the SHIFTs and how they can impact instruction

I am looking forward to seeing you all at the ICTM conference on October 9, 2017!  Please stop by and introduce yourself, I would love to meet you.  I will be at the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Booth!


April Pforts

State Supervisor of Mathematics

Iowa Department of Education

Questions or comment, feel free to email me at april.pforts@iowa.gov

Iowa Math Links

Virtual Resources

Government Liaison Report

            In his December 2016 note to members, NCTM president Matt Larson reminds us that NCTM serves as our advocate in Washington DC. This advocacy often happens behind the scenes and is critical to the success of teachers and students in mathematics classrooms across the nation. The NCTM Board of Directors approves a legislative platform each year and uses it to reach out to members of congress or the president’s administration. Their message is clear – supporting teachers and students in PK-12 classrooms is necessary for the success of our nation and that mathematics is a critical component of this education. While the conferences and teacher resources are the public face of NCTM, this advocacy work is just as important. (Read Larson’s entire note at: https://www.nctm.org/News-and-Calendar/Messages-from-the-President/Archive/Matt-Larson/Advocacy_-The-“Unseen”-Work-of-NCTM/).

            In Iowa, ICTM is your advocate. Newsletters contains summaries of legislative actions in Des Moines that might affect the work you do in mathematics classrooms or in teacher preparation. We reach out to the Department of Education’s mathematics consultant, April Pforts to keep you updated on professional development opportunities and changes in policies you might need to adopt. This is one face of our advocacy.

          Political advocacy is more challenging. We have plans in place to alert members about bills discussed in the Iowa legislature that could challenge your teaching of mathematics for understanding. Most of the legislation in Iowa addresses PK-12 education in general and is in the news frequently, so we do not send you notes about that. Instead, we refer to NCTM’s position statements, which reflect what is needed for teachers to implement what is known as best or research-based teaching practices when looking at bills and state policies. I encourage you to read the position statements that are relevant to your work (http://www.nctm.org/Standards-and-Positions/NCTM-Position-Statements/) as they might provide you talking points to use locally should controversy arise about how you update your mathematics teaching practice.

            “To be effective and to have the kind of impact we want at the national, state, and local levels, we rely in large part on the actions of individual advocates” (Larsen, 2016). This is true locally as well. Know that NCTM and ICTM will continue to advocate for you, your students and our profession. Since elected officials pay the most attention to their constituents, your voice counts. Refer to NCTM’s position statements (http://www.nctm.org/Standards-and-Positions/NCTM-Position-Statements/) and tips for advocacy (http://www.nctm.org/ Research-and-Advocacy/advocacy-toolkit/) when contacting your federal and state legislators about what is needed in your classroom for students to have success. Together, we can strive for mathematics education for all.

            Public feedback on the second draft of Iowa’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ended on August 17. That said, there is an online survey available for citizens which we can still use to answer questions regarding what is needed for the next version. If you want to participate in this survey, you can find it at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PLJKVDV.

          In federal government related news, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) is likely to end in the near future. This allows young people who were brought to the United States as undocumented children to work and study in two-year, renewable terms. This will affect some of the students you teach, as their ability to study and work in the US will be limited. When Iowa’s legislative session begins early in 2018, there will be more to report. In the meantime, think about advocating for your profession and how ICTM can help.

-Catherine M. Miller


·         Iowa Department of Education. (2017). Iowa’s Draft ESSA Plan. Retrieved on September 1, 2017 from https://www.educateiowa.gov/pk-12/every-student-succeeds-act.

·         Larson, Matt. (2016). Advocacy: The Unseen Work of NCTM. Retrieved on February 2, 2017 from https://www.nctm.org/News-and-Calendar/Messages-from-the-President/Archive/Matt-Larson/Advocacy_-The-%E2%80%9CUnseen%E2%80%9D-Work-of-NCTM/.  

Mathematical Mindsets

Want to see Dr. Jo Boaler in action, working with students?  Explore how to engage students in rich, open ended mathematical tasks?  Boaler’s online Mathematical Mindsets course through the Stanford Center for Professional Development is a great opportunity to do both of these things!

Even if you’ve read Dr. Boaler’s book by the same name, the opportunity to watch her teacher moves in a classroom setting is powerful.  The summer school course featured in Dr. Boaler’s course comprised of 18 lessons for 6th and 7th grade students.  Lessons included knowledge of the brain, mindset and mathematics learning taught through open, creative mathematics.  

For me, it was one thing to read the book, nodding along as I read.  Taking the course online provided me a visual and auditory example of what an open, creative math class could be.   What was impressive was the participation, the questioning and other teacher moves that led to deep learning for the students AND an excitement and appreciation for mathematics that struggling learners rarely exhibit.

All this, and I’m only halfway through the course!  Enrollment is open and you have until August of 2018 to complete approximately 30 hours of coursework.  About 20 teachers in my district enrolled as well. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the course and its content from elementary teachers, secondary teachers, interventionists, and instructional coaches.

Marty Beck


From VP-Middle School

Greetings fellow ICTM Members!  My name is Brian Townsend and I am the Vice President: Middle Grades for ICTM.  The ICTM Conference is just around the corner and I’m excited to see all of you there.

This year, we are bringing our wonderful vendors to you! As you move from session to session, vendors will be set up in the hallways providing unique products and services catered to the needs of Iowa Mathematics Teachers!  We’re excited about this arrangement and the positive interactions that it will facilitate. 

If you’ve never before attended the annual ICTM meeting, I think you’re in for a treat.

On the local front, on Tuesday, November 28, UNI will host its annual Math Day.  There will be a scholarship competition and opportunities to explore math in a whole new dimension. 

See you October 9 at ICTM!


Dr. Brian E. Townsend

Department of Mathematics

University of Northern Iowa

NCTM Bookstore at the ICTM Conference

            When you attend the ICTM Conference on October 9th be sure to stop by the NCTM bookstore near the registration table. You will be able to purchase books at a 20% discount. If the book that you want is not there you can order it and get the 20% discount plus free shipping. Feel free to browse the great selections available and get inspired to go back to your classroom and make a difference!

Iowa: A STEM State of Mind

As the gears of schooling re-engage across Iowa, STEM plays a bigger role than ever. Three hundred twenty-six Iowa school districts have by now taken part in one or more programs of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council. Most have implemented world-class STEM curriculum or kits through the Council's Scale-Up initiative; many have built school-business partnerships through the Council's STEM BEST program; and others have joined in on Code Iowa, Teacher-Externships, IT Academy, regional STEM Festivals, STEM Professional Development, and other offerings. The common thread across partners and programs is a commitment to active, applied, collaborative, integrated and community-connected learning that has generated higher math and science standardized test scores and increased interest among participants across grade levels, gender, race, and geography. Two open windows present an opportunity to engage with Iowa STEM:
1.    Iowa’s network of eighteen school-business partnerships called STEM BEST will be expanded by sixteen more this fall. Proposal deadline is September 15, at https://iowastem.gov/stembest/proposal
2.    The generous Kemin Outstanding STEM Teaching Award nomination period is open now until October 6 at https://stemaward.fluidreview.com/

Iowa enjoys a STEM state of mind. Please consider joining or building upon our partnerships.

Jeff Weld, executive director
Governor’s STEM Advisory Council

Northwest AEA

Where Did Summer Go?  I had a great summer, with lots of travel and fun, but it went so fast!  However, I did have a lot of great mathematics opportunities over the summer.

NWAEA hosted 2 days of Principles to Action state summer trainings.  Steve provided much superb learning and humor, and I always look forward to incorporating his knowledge into my math work at the AEA.  We also had a MS/HS Math Symposium at NWAEA this summer, which provided resources and networking for our teachers.

Over the summer, I became a certified trainer for ST Math.  I’m so excited to assist teachers with the implementation of this program.  I’ve always been interested in brain research, and learning the neuroscience behind this program validates my thinking. If anyone wants to learn more about ST Math, just email me.

Additionally, I was a member of the Iowa Core Advocates group, and we had virtual meetings throughout the summer.  We learned from Achieve the Core experts and strengthened our own knowledge of math education.  I always enjoy networking with other educators from across Iowa.

Finally, I was also able to network with educators from across the nation in my OER Affinity group.  We are educators from Iowa, Nebraska, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, who share ideas about Open Educational Resources.  Several experts have attended our virtual meetings, and we are trying to implement some of these components in Iowa.

Best wishes to everyone for a fantastic school year.  I hope to see you at the ICTM Fall Pre-Conference/Conference.  It’s going to be a great conference!


Shari Collins

NWAEA, Educational Consultant


Central Rivers AEA

Have you ever wanted to be part of a mathematics community?

Is your school so small that you do not have many colleagues to discuss your ideas with?

Is your school so big that you would like an out of district perspective on mathematics?

Is there a particular focus you would be interested in investigating?

Do you have an area of expertise that you would like to share on a larger scale?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you may be interested in being part of the Central Rivers AEA Region’s ICTM mathematics community. If you would like details on this opportunity, please contact me, ICTM’s Central Rivers AEA Regional Director at cedwards@spartanpride.net or claytonmedwards@gmail.com for more details.


Dr. Clayton Edwards

ICTM Central Rivers AEA Regional Director

Grundy Center Middle School


Green Hills AEA: "The Power of Yet"

How many times have you heard, “ I don’t get this!”  “This doesn’t make sense!” or my all-time favorite, ”I wasn’t good at math so my student won’t be good at math!”  I’m not a science teacher but I don’t remember there being a gene for math.  

I’ve been working with my students to establish a growth mindset.  I want them to know that they can do it, and I will be there to guide them and help them do it.  So we have a poster about “The Power of Yet”.  I encourage the students so that they say. “I don’t get this . . . yet!”  or “This doesn’t make sense . . . yet!”  It is amazing the change the little word yet can make in the thought process of the students.  Instead of a defeated attitude they are working on a positive attitude.  They are thinking about what they could do differently so that they can “get it.”  I encourage my students to look at the problem a different way, draw a model or a picture.  Talk to a table partner and think it through together.  Give it a try, those three letters can do a great deal to help students be successful and have a growth mindset about mathematics.


Tammie Cass

Greenhills AEA District Representative

Nodaway Valley Middle School


Check Out The Conference Sessions

The complete online conference planner is available at https://ictm2017.sched.com/.  Here are some of the sessions being offered:


·         Is Motivating Students a Productive Struggle for Your Teaching

·         Real World Is Dressed-Up Math

·         Ignite!  Talks

·         Mathematics and Board Games 2—Unplugged Bongaloo

·         Instructional Strategies that Influence Mathematics

·         CORE Advocates:  State Leadership with Standards Implementation

·         Why MDI?

·         What Can IPTV Add to the Equation?

·         Establishing, Sustaining, and Using a Composting System in and Outside of a Classroom

·         Restructuring the Mathematics Classroom through Blended Learning

·         The Mmm in STEM


·         Student Understanding:  What Do We Really Know?

          Project TASK

·         Creating Classroom Discussions that Matter

·         Algebra Is for Little Fingers, Too

·         Subrraction Hurts Me – No Longer

GRADES 3 – 5

·         Number Talks in the Middle Grades

·         Talk-Based Application and Research

·         Number Matters!  Making Sense of Multiplication and Division with Fractions

·         When a Door Closes, Open a Window:  Alternative Pathways for Whole District Acceleration

·         Productive Struggle:  What Does It Look Like in My Classroom?

·         Understanding Fraction Division Flexibly

·         Fractions and Decimals Without Fraction Bars and Circles

·         Multiplication with Meaning

·         Power Teaching Math


·         Quick Images with Fractions and Decimals

GRADES 6 – 8

·         Integrating Computer Science in Middle School Math

GRADES 9 – 12

·         The March Madness Data Analytics Challenge

·         Using Visual Models to Support Algebraic Reasoning

GRADES 3 – 12

·         Can You Teach a Lesson with 10 Slides?

·         Discovery Learning with Geogebra

·         Productive Struggle in Teaching STEM

·         How Do You Get Students to Talk in Your Class?

·         Rich Math Tasks for All:  Discourse and Differentiation

·         Experience a Math Teachers’ Circle

GRADES 6 – 12

·         “Proof” that Geometry Has Changed

·         Modifying Questions for ELLs:  When, Where, and How

·         Team Based Approach to Teaching Math

·         Case Stories:  A Protocol for Sharing Teachers’ Practice

·         Do You DESMOS?  The Math Tech Tool That Does It ALL!

          Making Secondary Math Accessible to All Students

·         Math – A Promise of Fun and Games

·         Facilitating Conversation with DESMOS

·         Individualized Self-Paced Math Instruction

·         Mathematics Teacher Externships


·         Teaching about Measures of Variation

·         Elementary Methods for Secondary Teachers

·         Why Consider the History of Mathematics at Your School?

·         Using Technology to Maximize Teaching and Learning Experiences

·         Teaching Trigonometry for Success in Calculus

·         Modeling:  Teaching It Right

·         Iowa Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators


·         Drill Without the Kill – Deliberate Practice to Lock in What You Teach

·         Supporting Struggling Math Students with Growth Mindset

·         Not Your Traditional Math Assignment

·         The Quantile Framework for Mathematics:  Math Differentiation at Your Fingertips

·         SWAG – Students with a Goal

·         Renaissance Math

          Perseverance Culture:  Driving Productive Struggle with Math Technology