A Message From Your ICTM President


My name is Deidra Baker. I am the current ICTM president. I teach at Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman. In the 25 years I have taught in Iowa, I also taught at City High in Iowa City and was the high school Math teacher at Keota. I have a good understanding of the joys and challenges of teaching in districts small and large.

I am excited to serve the math educators and math support team members throughout our state. In the next two years I look forward to working with the people who love math, teaching, and helping students learn and love math. This is a very exciting time to be involved in math education because there are so many resources available. Social media makes it possible for us to share ideas and learn from others in our state, our country and the world.

Please let me know how ICTM and I can help you become the best math educator you can be. If you have ideas for teaching, helping students learn or that would make ICTM a more valuable resource, please share. My email is dlfbaker@gmail.com. I am on Twitter @dlfbaker and my school Twitter handle is @dbmpmath. You can also find Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics on Twitter at @IowaMathTeach and you can like our Facebook page: Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Enjoy the rest of your year. Looking forward to seeing you at the fall conference!


From the Vice President - Elementary

Hello ICTM members!

My name is Angie Shindelar and I have just begun serving on the ICTM Board as the Vice-President for Elementary. I attended UNI for both my BA in Elementary Education and my MA in Middle Grade Mathematics Teaching. This is my 29th year in education. I taught elementary and middle school math at Nodaway Valley CSD in southwest Iowa for many years. I am currently a Math Consultant for Green Hills AEA.

A topic that is often of interest to elementary teachers is basic fact fluency.  Basic fact fluency expectations for K-3 in the Iowa Core Math Standards set a high bar for students and teachers. Conversations about best practice for teaching fact strategies is always a high interest topic as teachers are eager for any suggestions to help students be more successful.

I would like to share what I have learned from an NCTM article in the Teaching Children Mathematics journal that has had a positive influence on my work. I also attended a session with the authors at a recent NCTM conference. The November 2014 NCTM article, “Enriching Addition and Subtraction Fact Mastery Through Games” by Jennifer Bay-Williams and Gina Kling provides powerful suggestions for achieving fact fluency. They have also written an article for multiplication and division facts. The highlights of the article are a progression for teaching fact strategies and an emphasis on games specifically designed around each fact strategy to build fluency. The games are designed to practice the thinking for a given strategy.

In my work with teachers to improve basic fact instruction one concern is consistently raised. Students are typically expected to learn all of the facts in the early part of the school year. For example, a typical textbook might have the chapter on addition and subtraction fact strategies within the first month of school. For many students this is too much content packed into a short amount of time. They struggle to grasp several strategies at once aren’t allowed time to absorb and practice.

An alternative option would be to spread the basic fact strategy instruction out across the year. Introduce and work on one strategy and practice the strategy with the fluency games. Redesigning the pace of the basic fact instruction can give students more time to make sense of each strategy and practice using it. Consistent practice with a strategy leads to automaticity.

Being fluent means we look at the numbers in the problem and quickly determine an efficient strategy to use. The strategy may vary depending on the numbers. The strategy becomes unnecessary when automaticity is reached, because we have practiced it enough to just know the fact. However the strategy is retrievable if the fact is forgotten.

I would love to hear any of your thoughts around basic fact fluency and any other topics of interest for elementary math. My email is ashindelar@ghaea.org.


                                                                             — Angie Shindelar

                                                                             Vice President—Elementary

ICTM Board Members Attend M4 Conference

On March 2, the Midwest Mathematics Meeting of the Minds Conference (M4) was held in Omaha.  In addition to much great learning, many of the ICTM Board Members were in attendance.  The learning was centered around the 3 books in the NCTM “Taking Action” series, as well as the 8 high-leverage Effective Teaching Practices.

DeAnn Huinker, K-5 lead author, started off the morning with discussion focusing on “Ambitious Teaching.”  These ideas included building on student thinking, developing deep understanding, student engagement, and boosting student confidence in mathematics.  Another robust conversation contained performance goals vs. learning goals. Performance goals are procedural demonstrations from students, where learning goals show what students should understand, and they may include connections among math ideas.  Other great topics of study included questioning strategies.  We also learned the difference between advancing questions and assessing questions and their importance in understanding student reasoning and thinking.  Different types of questions in mathematics portray gathering information, probing student thinking, making mathematics visible, reflection, justification and engaging the reasoning of others.  Finally, research was shared to show that a 3+ second wait time will increase both the number of students who respond and the length of the responses.

Peg Smith, 6-8 lead author, focused on representations and productive struggle.  She led us through the Cars and Motorcycles problem.  “There are 13 motorcycles and cars in the lot.  There were 42 wheels.  How many motorcycles and how many cars are in the parking lot?”  After working the problem and showing our representations, we analyzed student work samples, where discussion included understanding vs. efficiency with the representations.  Peg also shared the graphic of representations that includes Visual, Symbolic, Physical, Contextual and Verbal categories. Productive struggle was another topic of learning, and we solved another rich task, the Lifeguard Task.  Then we interpreted 5 teacher responses to struggle, which include telling, directed guidance, probing guidance, affordance and vague.

After lunch, Melissa Boston, 9-12 lead author, took the helm and focused on discourse and fluency.  We analyzed the Bike and Truck Task by studying a graph of distance and time.  Especially fascinating were the video clips from Ms. Shalunda Shackelford’s classroom.  We watched as this skillful teacher facilitated mathematical discourse.  The students had ample opportunities to clarify their understanding, prove their thinking, defend their ideas, and listen to the ideas of classmates.  It was obvious that the teacher had created an environment of safety with her students.  A good reminder was to refer back to the NCTM publication, “5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions.” Finally, the key ideas with fluency from Briars are: 

1.    Develop conceptual understanding by building on informal knowledge. 

2.    Use appropriate tasks to develop these informal strategies to solve problems.

3.    Allow students to refine informal strategies to develop fluency with standard procedures, and compare and contrast different methods to solve the same problem.  All of these ideas will help to build fluency.

Woven through all three presentations was the idea of access and equity.  We studied three questions to promote equity in our classrooms. 

1.    Does each and every student have a voice in the math classroom?

2.    Who gets called on to answer questions?

3.    Whose thinking is pursued further (or disregarded) in small-group and whole-class discussions? 

We need to be conscious of these ideas as we include more discourse in our teaching.

Please SAVE THE DATE for next year’s M4 Conference in Ankeny on Friday, March 1.  Elementary presenters are Tracy Zager and Graham Fletcher, and secondary presenters are Robert Kaplinsky and Dan Meyer.  It’s going to be a great conference!


Shari Collins

NWAEA Regional Director

Government Affairs Update

As I write this, this year’s proposed bills have made it through the funnel in Des Moines. Now our legislators will discuss the bill in committee, revise them as needed and then votes will be cast to update or change laws that will influence your work. To keep up with these bills, check out Educate Iowa (https://www.educateiowa.gov/resources/legislative-information/education-bill-tracking ). You will see a list of bills that have been filed, read them, and find out where each one is in the legislative process.

One bill to follow is HF2317. If passed, eliminates the requirement that school districts and private schools use statewide core curriculum standards adopted by the state board of education and instead authorizes the state board to establish a core curriculum that school districts and private schools may voluntarily utilize. Updating what is already in place, even it if may be currently used by school districts, would not be allowed.

Several bills are related to funding public education. It seems to me that the money allocated in these bills is restricted to certain uses. None of these relate directly to the teaching and learning of mathematics but will impact overall school budgeting and spending. I have not seen the Educational Savings Accounts addressed among the bills that survived the funnel. I do think they might be part of the state budget being worked on in Des Moines and have not had time to read it.

It is still difficult to determine what will happen federally regarding education due to many matters not being settled in Washington, DC. It is expected that the President’s budget for FY19 will include proposals to cut spending for the Department of Education, building on what started with FY18. Already in 2018, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a partisan Higher Education Authorization Act (HEA) reauthorization plan. Included in this plan are the following:

·         Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title II-A State grants are to be eliminated

·         Teacher Quality Partnership grants are eliminated

·         School Leader Recruitment and Support programs are eliminated

·         The phase-out of Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. (Note that the TEACH grants are pulled out of this category and funded if there is enough money.)

·         Federal Work-Study program cut

·         Only short-term Pell grants are funded.

·         The elimination of the Regional Education Laboratories and statewide longitudinal data systems are eliminated.

·         Rural Education Achievement and Special Education Personnel Preparation Programs are funded at FY17 level.

This reauthorization of the HEA is not complete. There is currently a bipartisan effort to revise this before presenting it for a vote. The unclear future of ESSA, which has some support in Congress, appears to be creating a divide between Congress and the Department of Education and slowing down the collaboration needed for a bill reauthorizing HEA to be filed.

The information I share in the federal government updates is based on information I find at nctm.org (https://www.nctm.org/Research-and-Advocacy/advocacy-in-the-field/ ). Updates are posted the beginning of each month, so check this to keep up on federal government related to education.

                                                                           —Catherine Miller

                                                                            ICTM Government Affairs Liaison

From the State Math Supervisor

            I hope all of you have had a great school year so far!  Hang in there, summer break will be here before we know it.  Always great to recharge our batteries by spending time with families, friends, and to get caught up on all those things we save for a rainy day.  Often educators ask me, how long do you think you will stay at the DE?  I usually respond with I am not planning to go anywhere because I think I work with the most dedicated professionals on the planet.  Last fall, my call to action was to find a math 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 Iowa students.  Well, Iowa math educators, not only did you answer the call, but you superseded my expectation.

            As a result, we now have math networks and communities of interest.  We have an administrator and coaching network for general information with almost 3,000 educators.  We also have several communities of interest such as IA Core Advocates, Principles to Actions, Number Sense, and OpenUp resources with around 300 educators in each group.  This data supports the amazing leadership in Iowa as teachers, instructional coaches, specialist, consultants, pre-service teachers, professors, principals, curriculum directors, and superintendents come together to connect, learn, grow, and continue to improve to better support students.  You have Tweeted, Zoomed, Facebooked, LinkedIn, attended host webinars, recorded ones, and virtual small group chats and G+, written, read, and commented on blogs, etc.

            With all this focus on math standards, best known instructional practices, and professional development, I am confident that we are going to see student learning increase in mathematics and students being better prepared for their futures.

           My Call to Action for you: Spread the Math Love to your colleagues.  Make sure everyone who supports students learning math are connected to a network and a community of interest and is getting the most current information and resources we know about across the nation.

            Links to sign-ups for the network, communities, and G+ communities can be found on the websites below under “Join” tab.

·         IA Administrators Network - Math: (principals, curriculum directors, and superintendents)

·         IA Coaching Network - Math: (teacher leaders, instructional coach, math specialist—variety of support, teachers and administrators, open to any IA educator)

·         IA Core Advocates Network - Math Community: focused on implementing the standards

·         IA Principles to Actions Community - Math: focused on effective math instruction

·         IA Number Sense Community - Math: focused on building numeracy K-HS

·         IA IM/OpenUp Community - Math: focused on implementing the 6th-8th resources


—April Pforts

    State Supervisor of Mathematics

    Iowa Department of Education

Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute at University of Iowa

The Advanced Placement® Teacher Training Institute (APTTI) provides comprehensive preparation for developing and teaching an AP® course.  APTTI takes place June 26-29, 2018 at the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

Each workshop includes: preparation of course syllabi and lesson plans; examples of classroom materials applicable to the particular AP® subject area; and preparation for the new College Board Audit, required for every AP teacher.  The AP Teacher Training Institute is designed for:  teachers who want to learn to teach AP courses in one of the content areas; current AP® teachers; and educators who wish to strengthen the core curriculum.

Courses offered in 2018 include: AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP U.S. Government & Politics, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature & Composition, AP Physics 1, and AP U.S. History.  Scholarships to help cover the cost of participation are available through the College Board and through the Belin-Blank Center. For more information, visit www.belinblank.org/aptti  or email aptti@belinblank.org.  Registration opens February 1st.

Greetings from Keystone AEA!

I would like to encourage each and every one of you to plan to join us this October for the ICTM conference.  The conference is an important way for teachers of mathematics at all levels to come together and share of our successes and challenges in teaching and the learning of mathematics.  And, of course you are bound to come away with new insights and some newfound energy and optimism to bring back to share with your students and colleagues!

My own attendance at the ICTM conference in recent years has given me the opportunity to learn about the various ways teachers at all levels are expanding the use of mathematical discourse in their classrooms. Doing so has allowed me to adapt and re-energize my own use of dialogue and infuse practices such as number talks and number strings into classes I teach even at the college level.

Along the way, I’ve also had the opportunity to teach a number of 3rd-5th grade classes over the past two years using number talks, number strings, and a 3 Act Lesson I created on measurement and volume. Just a month ago, I opened a lesson for a class of 5th graders by saying “Today we’re going to work on multiplication of decimal numbers,” after which I heard a number of audible “Ugghhs.”   Nevertheless, I had faith that the number string approach I had planned would positively impact both their mathematical understanding and their attitude.  Indeed, after the lesson, students were abuzz with excitement and had shared several new understandings of how to compute expressions such as 5.5 x 6.2 mentally.

While I’ve always been passionate about encouraging students to speak and write mathematics, I’ve learned to appreciate this is a critical practice in addressing issues of access and equity in mathematics education.  As teachers it is our job to structure a learning environment and craft lessons that support all learners.  In my own teaching, I have found that when each and every learner is given voice in a classroom functioning as a “community of learners,” it is through healthy dialogue and collaboration then that they grow confidence and persistence.

As you wind up the academic year, add some fun to your classes. Check out the Mathematical Association of America’s (MAA’s) Fun Math: http://www.maa.org/programs/students/fun-math.

As you think about summer, why not add some award winning mathematics article to your summer reading? Go to http://www.maa.org/programs/maa-awards/writing-awards to explore different awards. Or, explore articles on Jo Boaler’s youcubed site: https://www.youcubed.org/. I also highly recommend her book “Mathematical Mindsets”. The book is loaded with great resources. I’m using several of her ideas in my Mathematical Concepts (for prospective elementary teachers) course.

What interesting things are you doing in your classroom? We’d love to hear about it and see you share it with others, maybe at the 2017 Math Fall Conference at Valley West High School on Monday, October 9. You have until May 15, 2017 to propose a session for this fall’s conference: https://www.iowamath.org/conference/.

                                                                                                   —Robert Keller