Welcome to our Blog!  We will regularly be posting articles on this blog written by board members on a topic of interest to our board members and to our membership.  Comments welcomed and encouraged -- we hope you will continue the dialog with us, share resources with us, and help promote mathematics education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Recent Blog Posts

Sunday, November 27, 2016 10:48 AM • Anonymous member
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 4:56 PM • Anonymous member
Monday, January 11, 2016 8:29 PM • Anonymous member
  • Sunday, November 27, 2016 10:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Linked below is a message from TODOS: Mathematics for All.  For those that aren't familiar with TODOS, here is their mission statement:

    The mission of TODOS: Mathematics for ALL is to advocate for equity and high quality mathematics education for all students—in particular, Latina/o students.

    Message from TODOS

    In this message, TODOS reiterates its commitment to supporting equity in mathematics education. This is a message ATMIM fully supports!

  • Wednesday, March 16, 2016 4:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I first stumbled upon MTBoS accidentally.  I had just heard about the book “Nix the Tricks” by Massachusetts teacher Tina Cardone (a book I’d highly recommend for those who haven’t already read it) and in looking at the website for the book I noticed mention of the MTBoS, or the “Math Twitter Blogoshpere”.  My first reaction to seeing this was similar to when I first heard about the cloud--it was this mysterious, magical entity that I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around.   As I have delved further into this amazing community, I no longer consider it mysterious but it does remain magical.

    Many people have tried to define the MTBoS or blogged about what it means to them so this is by no means a new topic, but I’ll try to add the perspective of someone who is a relative newbie to this community of math teachers. 

    Twitter as a PLN

    Those teachers who are regulars on twitter often refer to it as “the best PLN” they’ve ever been part of.  You can post questions, get into discussions, and crowdsource ideas with math teachers across the world.  Chances are good that somewhere in this network you’ll find other teachers with similar views as well as those who can challenge your views and help you to see a different side of things.  And adding the #MTBoS hashtag to your tweet is equivalent to sending out the bat signal to every math teacher on Twitter.  Having trouble working out a math problem? Need some ideas for your lesson on the quadratic formula tomorrow? Want some help figuring out what mistakes students are likely to make on a particular problem?  Send out a tweet and attach the #MTBoS hashtag and you’re likely to get responses.  

    A Wealth of Resources

    Whether or not you’ve taken the plunge into the world of twitter,  the available resources on the internet created by teachers part of the MTBoS are innumerable.  In fact, if you’ve ever done a google search for lesson ideas, chances are you’ve already stumbled upon some of this great work. 

    Here are a few of my favorite sites to get started with:

    MTBoS Search Engine--When you are in need of an idea for how to teach a particular topic, this site enables you to search over 200 math teacher blogs for inspiration.

    Math Ed summarizes all the activity throughout the MTBoS.  It’s especially great for those of us who can’t seem to keep up with all the great tweets in the math world.

    Global Math Department hosts webinars on every math ed topic you can ever imagine every Tuesday night.  You can also view all their past webinars. 


    As I said, I’m still relatively new to the world of MTBoS and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface on all that it has to offer.  If you’re interested in learning more from others who have far more expertise, Explore MTBoS is a great place to start.  And be sure to come to our spring conference on March 19th where there will be a MTBoS booth as well as a session led by Jennifer Fairbanks exploring the MTBoS entitled “Finding and Sharing Great Lessons and Activities”.  Hope to see you there!

    Sandy Ollerhead

  • Monday, January 11, 2016 8:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy New Year!  So over the break, as I thought about my upcoming lessons, I was reflecting on a discussion I had with fellow Algebra I teachers about homework.  Many of us are experiencing an issue with homework completion.  Over the three years of the start to my teaching career, I keep trying different homework policies.  This year alone, with my Algebra I course, I have tried three different methods. 

    At the start of the year, I tried to use the book.  I assigned nightly book work but since the book is online we encountered a lot of technological issues.  I gave out books, but then there were issues with the students not having books in school or at practice.  The book just was not working and I was tired of fighting with the students. 

    I asked them what works for them and the majority of the students suggested worksheets and cited many practical reasons.  It's a super difficult thing to keep up with and making a worksheet that was at the right level with the right number of problems was time consuming.  On the positive side, my students increased their completion of homework and were trying more of the problems.  But I was struggling to keep up.  And as a newer teacher, I was stressing out about creating the homework rather than working on an engaging lesson.

    So during break, while on Pinterest (one of my favorite places to get lesson ideas), I came across a spiraled homework Algebra I packet.  It was through "Teachers Pay Teachers" and would cost $19.99 for a years worth of the homework.  I'm not into spending money for materials if I am not sure how they work.  So instead I downloaded the free 2 week version.  I included the link below.  So far, my students have actually done really well with the spiraled homework.  IT reviews all sorts of material and its only about 7 questions a night.  My students have done geometry review, arithmetic review and probability review.  I've loved watching them gain confidence with material they know or have more familiarity with, instead of coming in anxious about the material they were still processing.


    We are only two weeks in, and I need to make the next couple of week homework sheets myself, but I am looking forward to reviewing more material from middle school than in previous years.

    Has anyone else tried spiraling homework?  What have you used?

    Hope to see you all Thursday!


  • Monday, January 04, 2016 12:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Great questions to Ponder

        During winter break I had some moments to read books that was not about math.  To my surprise one particular book reminded me of everything that I have been emphasizing in the way I should be modeling for teachers who are teaching mathematics.    In The Great Report - A Guide for students and teachers who wish to replace tedium with delight  by Jamie McKenzie I have discovered great ways of asking questions. By asking good questions we can help students appreciate the valued of innovation.  Each student then has the opportunity to cultivate skills and attitudes required to do work that is inventive and original  (page 49).    For example for the topic of biography,  a possible question could be “What are the two or three most important lessons you or any other young person might learn from the way this person lived?” (page 50).  McKenzie also had a chapter on the power of how, why, or which such as “Why does the rain fall?” (page 31)  

        Now I have my homework to change the way I should be asking questions to enable students to learn from their mistakes and be allowed to be creative and innovative.   I also finished my reading of Mindset by Carol Dweck.   Now I not only have to think about better questions but I also have to contemplate the best way to respond to my students to encourage creativity and innovation and encourage lots of effort into finding solutions.   While I started my search for better questions, I began reading  Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler.  This is exciting and challenging to always be looking for the best questions and the best ways to encourage students to take risks and learn from their mistakes.   I am hoping that we as educators can keep learning from others, to keep pondering on how we can encourage our students to love to learn,  and of course have our students learn to delight with challenges that go beyond the basic concepts.   I am also hoping that we will start thinking of great mathematical questions that help our students see that mathematics is not about memorization but exploring mathematics to see the why, how, and when all the elements of mathematics fit together in our world.

    Don’t forget to join ATMIM book study group - What’s Math Got to Do With It? by Jo Boaler.  


    The Great Report: Jamie McKenzie  (FNO Press, 2015)

    Mathematical Mindsets: Jo Boaler (Jossey-Bass, 2015)

    Mindset: Carol Dweck (Ballantine Books, 2008)

    What’s Math Got to Do With It?: Jo Boaler (Penguin Books, 2015)

  • Sunday, December 13, 2015 9:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Over my years of teaching, the ways in which I assess students have evolved. Early in my career, my assessments were fairly traditional – individual tests with students applying their skills and concept knowledge to problems that looked similar to those done in class or on homework. Overtime, I have begun to include more varied methods. The change came about as I realized that the methods I used to assess students can say a great deal about what I value in how students learn as well as what they learn. 


    Two things that cannot be accomplished by a traditional assessment are telling students that I value collaboration and engaging students in complex problem solving. Group assessments can do both of these. I don’t use group assessments as the sole means of assessing students, but I do try to have at least one group assessment per unit – sometimes it’s a group quiz, sometimes it’s a performance task, and sometimes it is one part of their unit exam.


    I like to tell my students that mathematical thinking is often not a solitary affair.  What better way to demonstrate this then to ask them to work with others on something as important as a quiz or test.  I know some people will collect one paper from each group (sometimes randomly), however I like to collect one paper from each student.  This holds each accountable for the work and the write-up.  Many of their papers will look the same, but often times the write-ups are different enough that members of the same group will earn different grades.


    Group assessments also allow me to give students a more complex problem to solve with less fear of a single student becoming stumped or not knowing where to go with a problem.   Testing students on their ability to problem solve is not an easy task.  Multifaceted problems are best done when students can talk to others about the solution.  Sometimes, however, groups can lose focus, straying from the task at hand and not arriving at a solution by the end of class-time.  Simply attaching the word “quiz” to a problem solving activity can bring greater attention, focus, and collaboration among any group of students.


    A good group assessment can shift the emphasis from skill development to concept development.  Those students that are still struggling with particular skills, can rely on their group mates to get through those difficult aspects, and, in fact, strengthen their own skill knowledge.  More importantly, a good task frees up the worry over skills to focus on learning concepts more deeply.  The assessment turns from a “do this” activity to a “learn something activity.”  I want my students to think of everything I ask them to do as an opportunity to learn.  A well-chosen group assessment can accomplish this goal.

    An earlier blog post written by Nancy Johnson includes some great resource sites for finding good assessment tasks.  Most of these are also linked on the resource page of the ATMIM website. 


    How do you assess your students throughout the year?  What kind of tasks do you give them to do?  Have you tried to use group assessments in your class and what techniques do you use to make them successful?  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

    Steven Rattendi



  • Sunday, December 06, 2015 8:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    My sister recently sent me a link to a YouTube video that took us on a walk through memory lane and this reminded me that my parents would often tell us that “we live in a wonderful time”.  Of course, that was in the 50’s, and there were plenty of new conveniences to marvel at, but a lot has happened since then to make our lives even more wonderful (at least more convenient).  Well, my stream of consciousness mind led me to a comparison of how teaching has changed since I first started.  Microfiche, film strips and 8 mm films have been replaced with laptops, tablets and LCD Projectors.  The number of corded devices is decreasing and wireless devices are here to stay.

    Alcohol based mimeograph machines and Gestetner’s have been replaced with high tech copiers that can collate, double-side, staple, and handle just about any size paper.  Today’s document camera is yesterday’s overhead projector, while the Interactive White Board is the norm, and blackboard and chalk is yesterday’s news.  “Field trips” to the school library are less frequent since every Smart Phone can access any of the myriad of search engines.  Student communication has been transformed ever since Facebook made its first appearance on February 4, 2004.  These changes – and many, many more - have forever changed the HOW of our business.  But what remains constant are the WHO, the WHY and the WHAT.

    The demographics are changing, but each and every student seated before us in our classroom deserves our best – every day.  That’s often quite a challenge, and certainly easier said than done, but generally, kids are kids from one generation to the next.  Underneath their different learning styles, their family issues and other situations that would stop most people in their tracks, we try our best to sift through all that and are asked to be the type of teacher that they’ll remember long after they leave.

    Students will always need to be treated as respectable individuals who have a right to the finest education available.  In a few short years, these youngsters will be taking care of all the business that, right now, is being done by us.  They will be running businesses or will have a large say towards the business decisions of their companies.  They will be helping to defend our country.  They will be the public servants who will be making decisions about our future.  They will be the teachers who will be teaching your children and your grandchildren.

    Since the time when our parents and grandparents were teaching their students, there was a body of knowledge that they were expected to learn.  In May 1961, when Alan Shepard became the first American in space, I was in Grade 9. When I stepped into my first math classroom, Neil Armstrong had, just 2 months before, declared his “giant leap for mankind”.  Beginning with that 8 year span and continuing since, students have been challenged to learn more mathematics, at an earlier age than ever before.  With high stakes testing, higher enrollments in many AP courses, and the explosion of technology and all its wonders, the students better not be the only partners that are better educated.  We must promise ourselves to learn something new every day – from a colleague, from a book, from the net, from a course or a workshop or a conference.  Students aren’t the only folks who are being encouraged to be life-long learners.


    Steve Yurek

    ATMIM Board

  • Thursday, October 15, 2015 1:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In March 2011, mathematics teachers in Massachusetts first were introduced to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.  Now, over four years later, we are still working towards understanding the standards for mathematical content and we are working hard at bringing the standards for mathematical practices into our classrooms.  This is an exciting time for mathematics educators.  But it is also a challenging one. 

    Mathematics classrooms are being transformed from students working individually, taking notes, and being led through procedures on how to solve problems to classrooms where students discuss problems, share ideas, try working out a problem, critique the reasoning of their peers, determine if the solution makes sense for the situation, and sometimes revisit the problem in order to find the faulty reasoning and correct it.  We as mathematics teachers are continually challenged to engage our students with mathematical tasks that are thought provoking and relevant.

    I would like to share some of my favorite resources that embrace the practices and support the content of the Frameworks.  Lets take the time to share some of our “favorites” with our peers to create a library of favorite resources for our membership.  I encourage all of you to share “the good stuff” with us. 

    Mathematics Assessment Project - The Mathematics Assessment Project (MAP) is part of the Math Design Collaborative initiated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. MAP set out to design and develop well-engineered tools for formative and summative assessment that expose students’ mathematical knowledge and reasoning, helping teachers guide them towards improvement and monitor progress. The tools are relevant to any curriculum that seeks to deepen students' understanding of mathematical concepts and develop their ability to apply that knowledge to non-routine problems. Grades 6 – high school.

    Illustrative Math – Illustrative tasks and resources for each standard.  Grades K – high school.

    NCTM Classroom Resources – Lessons and resources continually being updated for all grade levels.

    mathopenref – An awesome site for geometric constructions.

    Dan Meyer – The home of the “3 Acts”.  Lessons for middle and high school that start with a video, wonders about a question, and asks students to solve the question.  The website is a blog and offers many ideas and resources.

    mathnspired – Lessons and tools to help guide students to understand key concepts using TI-NSpire technology.  The  lessons are available in both Word and PDF form.


    Nancy Johnson

    ATMIM President


  • Wednesday, September 23, 2015 6:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hello!  Welcome to a new feature of the ATMIM website, our blog! We are really excited about using social media in a new way in this upcoming year.  Our goal is to update the blog weekly, and to have different members of ATMIM share on the blog.  You might find new and interesting mathematics problems, exciting lessons, classroom experiences, or even an interesting article or link in the blog.  We will also update you on any upcoming events. 

    As the least experienced teacher on the board of ATMIM, I am constantly looking to the members and to the board members for advice.  In my third year of teaching, I have a lot to learn.  Last week, while at our board meeting, I asked the board about an assignment I handed out to my seniors in a Probability and Statistics course.  I assigned them a Math Autobiography as their first assignment, and though I had read multiple blog posts about this type of assignment, I wanted the opinions of more experienced teachers. 

    Much to my surprise, both Nancy Johnson (President of ATMIM) and Steven Rattendi (Past-President of ATMIM) had used similar assignments.  Nancy actually had her write up of the assignment with her and shared it with me (I love when teachers share assignments!).  I asked them what their experiences had been, and both expressed that they really got to know their students better.

    Well this past week, as I was reading the papers, I got to know my students in a different light.  They told me about their learning styles, the type of student they are, what they wanted to do after high school, and what they do outside of class.  Although they were not perfect, I found myself seeing them in the classroom and recognizing how they like to learn.  Positive things I learned: most like group work, understand that they procrastinate, want to do well, are extremely diverse, high school students are busy, and are willing to share what works best for them if you ask. 

    Next year, I might integrate it into all of the classes I teach, with maybe some tweaks of the assignment.  I found some useful information on this assignment here: http://wac.colostate.edu/aw/teaching/reisch2000/autobiography.htm.  I used it as a graded assignment, mostly based on effort, and handed it back to them this week with notes to each one. 

    For me, personally, I found it to be eye opening and really helpful.  I plan to use it again and again during the first week of school. 

    Hope you all are having a great first couple of weeks back!  I hope to see you all at our upcoming events.  Stay tuned!

    Katie Aspell


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