Welcome to MCTM's e-Newsletter!

MI Math Community

April 2021


Best viewed on a desktop or go HERE to see as webpage.

Worthy of Scrolling: Geo Proofs with Uno Cards & Lower El Geometry Activities

Resources & Guiding Documents for Planning

Top Five Ways to Prepare your Kids (and Yourself)

for the AP Test

MCTM is fortunate to have an experienced AP exam reader and former MCTM Board Member Ruth Miller share information about the various AP math tests with us. Ruth presents and trains nationally and we are grateful for her willingness to contribute to our community. Whether you are a new to teaching AP classes or a veteran, these top five ways are valuable. From information about when and how to review to Ruth's absolute go-to resources for AP Calculus to spot-on test taking tips for students, this article is a must read for those teaching AP classes. Thank you Ruth!

Text is Not a “4-Letter Word” in Mathematics!

Ask a group of mathematics educators to sign up for professional learning on teaching students to access and create text, and you might just see them rapidly volunteer to attend online bloodborne pathogen and FERPA training instead.

Text is not to be avoided in mathematics, but to be embraced!  Can you imagine not using symbolic forms like equations and individual symbols (including ¸ , ,  @ , and ^)?  We would regress back to the 1300s when mathematics was expressed nearly completely in words!  What about graphing on the coordinate plane?  Whether graphing systems, inequalities, functions, data, or geometric figures, these pictures convey ideas rapidly instead of writing 1,000 words or more. Imagine making a statistical presentation without the use of PowerPoint or Google Slides, unable to share data tables, scatterplots, or regression lines or curves?  And all those videos students have been watching during the pandemic?  Imagine those without the animated graphics, video footage, still photos, pictures and diagrams, and the voice-over to narrate in mathematical language key points. Some students might have even heard or collected sounds to analyze mathematically (anyone got a tuning fork or some temperature-sensitive crickets?).

Whether we intend to or not, we use disciplinary literacy (mathematics-specific ways of thinking and communicating) - every moment while we are teaching. To begin to become more intentional practitioners of disciplinary literacy strategies, we first must recognize mathematical text in all its forms.  Then we plan to explicitly teach what we (as the local mathematics experts) know about making sense of it and creating it to our students (all of whom are novices or apprentices at mathematics). We make explicit this “hidden curriculum” of our classes that so many students catch only bits and pieces of, which then hinders their mathematical understanding.

“But wait!  How would I do this?  Give me examples! You can’t leave now!”  Stay tuned for the May and June editions for examples of manageable ways to identify and prepare to teach mathematical text, plus ways and to have students access and create text.  In the meantime, read the Math section of “Michigan’s Essential Instructional Practices for Disciplinary Literacy, Grades 6-12”. Visit the Home page for Michigan’s Disciplinary Literacy project Check out the upcoming professional learning, and sign up for the newsletter, read the December blog (math!), and find other DL news.

Kathy Berry, Immediate Past-President, MCTM  kathy.berry@monroeisd.us

Thinking about warmer weather? We are too! 

We are planning for the return of our Annual Institute & Conference event! 

For more details and information, visit:

2021 Virtual Conference

Next Session: April 15, 2021 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Register for April's Session Here!

#EmpoweringMathEd Series MARCH

Dr. AJ Edson and Yvonne Grant from Michigan State University lead the March session on Equitable Instructional Practices using a Pi Theme. The PDF of their slides can be accessed at the link below. They capitalized on PI Day with a focus on engaging tasks that incorporated technology while discussing teaching practices and equity. Participants had valuable discussions around the role of mathematical understanding and equitable practices the sample tasks afford.

#EmpoweredMathEd March

Join us for April and May's events!

This our series that focuses on the SMPs across grade levels. We are coordinating with Professor of Education and Mathematics Patricio Herbst and Assistant Research Scientist Amanda Milewski from the University of Michigan to bring MI Math Community readers information and opportunities around the Standards of Mathematical Practices.  District math specialists and curriculum leaders are encouraged to reach out to discuss ways of providing professional development to larger groups of teachers.

SMP 3: Construct Viable Arguments & Critique the Reasoning of Others

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice #4 states that students should learn to “model with mathematics”.  In this module, participants will have the opportunity to engage with an instructional scenario drawn from the secondary algebra curriculum.  Specifically, participants will observe, annotate, and read other participants’ annotations of a scenario in which students are working on a moving car problem where they are asked to determine when two cars moving in opposite directions meet.  In the scenario, students disagree on the answer and reconcile their different modes of reasoning by "identifying important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams." After considering various ways the teacher could support SMP #4, participants will have the opportunity to try implementing the SMP with their own students and receive feedback from an online facilitator.

The course will award 5 SCECHs upon completion. Visit https://lessonsketch.catalog.instructure.com/ to enroll for $75 (use the code MCTM1). 

There is a difference between modeling THE mathematics and modeling WITH mathematics. ("Digging Deeper into SMP4") Perhaps the post will make for a good discussion with fellow colleagues. The image below would be a good conversation starter.

The Chasing Einstein Challenge is a 9-week activity for 3rd-12th grade students designed to help them become creative and persistent problem solvers. Click on the image below to go to the video or click HERE. These materials are free for classroom teachers to use!

Click here to check out our latest blog from Jason Gauthier, on High Quality Math Instruction. He follows up his previous posts by making the connection to and naming the importance of fostering mathematical agency, identity, and authority in the classroom. He says this "is what makes teaching mathematics effectively so challenging—and so rewarding when we do it well." Click here to read this powerful and inspiring post in its entirety!

Kelli VanSetters, MCTM Membership Chair

Visit Our Blog Page

Writing Assessments:

"What else do you know about the topic that I didn't ask you about?"

Teacher Julie Arsenault shared this in the FB group Teacher2Teacher (edited for length):

"This year, I changed my assessments by adding a piece of paper at the end, asking 'What else do you know about the topic, that I didn't ask you about?' Another teacher suggested this idea online.

Answering the question is completely optional, and when students do show more understanding on the sheet than they did on the assessment, I'll point it out to them. Afterward, I'll follow up about how to recognize and answer test questions asked in different ways. While it's great that they've shown me their learning, they won't always have a chance to answer questions in an open-ended way, and I want them to succeed when they encounter assessment-style questions in the future.

I love what this change has done. This strategy has made my assessments more inclusive. It helps me communicate to my students: When I assess your understanding, I'm looking for what you DO know."

Responses also indicated that it adding this question might also help teachers to examine the wording on their questions and revise. Others pondered the question of altering the student's grade to reflect their understanding. Another example of a community of educators pooling their knowledge/experiences to help each other.

Adventures with Mathematics Activities: Focus LowerEl Geometry

An MCTM initiative created a series of books called Adventures with Mathematics, designed for students as summer activities but can easily be used in the classroom -- F2F or for remote learners. Here are the two activities we are highlighting this month. They are free of charge on the Publications page of the MCTM website. Are you a member? We are working on making all 12 books accessible for members for FREE! 

Link to Publications Page

A Different Way to Solve Quadratics

Link to Po-Shen Loh's Webpage

"I've recently been thinking about how to explain school math concepts in more thoughtful and interesting ways, while creating my Daily Challenge lessons  lessons. One night in September, while brainstorming different ways to think about the quadratic formula, I came up with a simple way to solve quadratic equations that I had never seen before. I was very surprised, as this method was easier to understand than what is typically written in textbooks. Adding this technique as a standard method would directly improve the learning experience for anyone trying to understand this topic, which is part of the regular mathematical curriculum everywhere in the world." Po-Shen Loh

Interested in reading more? Click on the image to watch the video on YouTube.

Free Resources Suggested by MiMC Readers:

A MI Math Community Reader suggested we share this Lesson from GeometryCoach.com on introducing students to proofs using Uno(R) cards. There is a free download of the activity HERE  that includes a PowerPoint presentation, student activity, and digital Uno(R) card images.

Have a resource or lesson to share? Email Publications@mictm.org for it to be considered by the Publications Committee.

Who has been a mentor to you? To whom have YOU been a mentor?

We would like to give our Community an opportunity to acknowledge the mentors in their teaching life. These are the people who encouraged, inspired, and supported you in this complex journey of being a educator. Send your story (and a picture if possible) to publications@mictm.org

Welcome to MI Math Community! One of MCTM’s renewed initiatives is a monthly e-newsletter to share information about mathematics, mathematics education, and the happenings of MCTM. 

Have an idea or topic you’d like to see included? Have a short article to submit for publication consideration? Want to give feedback? Please email MCTM Publications Director and MI Math Community Editor Christine Kincaid Dewey at  Publications@mictm.org . Look for the e-newsletter to develop and grow over time based on member input.

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Contact the e-Newsletter editor at Publications@mictm.org