March 2017 Edition

The Official Newsletter of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts, an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Countdown to the ATMIM Spring Conference: Taking Risks in the New Frontier
Submitted by Sandy Ollerhead

Last chance to register for the Spring Conference on March 24th at Worcester State University. We have an exciting line-up of presentations by speakers from around the state and region. The full conference program is now available online. Spots are filling up fast--don’t miss out, register now!

ATMIM Spring Conference Tweet-up Announcement

Get to know Dr. Anne Collins, keynote speaker at ATMIM’s Spring Conference
Submitted by Cole Gailus

Dr. Anne Collins

Dr. Anne Collins, Director of the Mathematic Achievement Center at Lesley University, will be delivering the Keynote at the Spring Conference 2017 on March 24th titled “I taught it...they didn't get it; I taught it again...they still didn't get it; Now What?”

Dr. Collins recently answered some questions for ATMIM in anticipation of her presentation later this month.

How long have you been a teacher? What is your favorite grade level to teach?

I have been teaching for over forty years. I have taught every grade except grades 2 and 5 and spent time teaching Vocational Technical High School students, undergraduate students, and graduate students. I think my favorite grade was grade 8.

What is your favorite topic to teach?

I really enjoyed teaching trigonometry to high school juniors and seniors. Now I teach it to middle school in-service teachers, and I have the same excitement for the trig.

How would you describe exploratory learning and why do you think it benefits students in the long run?

Exploratory learning is where the teacher poses a problem or an investigation and the students work collaboratively to work through that problem or situation. The role of the teacher is to ask questions and guide the students, but not to tell them what to do or how to do it. The students are the learners, and as they solve all these great problems, they develop confidence in themselves and their ability to solve nonroutine problems. The greatest advantage to exploratory learning is... continue reading

MCAS Next-Gen practice tests now available!
Submitted by Cole Gailus

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education has released a student tutorial, web-based practice tests (with the ability to take them via the TestNav app), and paper-based practice tests for the Next-Generation MCAS. These resources can be found at

Only a few days left to nominate students for an ATMIM Student Scholarship - Due March 10th! 
Submitted by Sheri Flecca

In the spring of 2017, the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts will award a monetary award of $500 and certificate of recognition to several members of the graduating class from Massachusetts schools.  A committee consisting of board members and other teachers of mathematics independently review all applications; the committee takes into account multiple aspects to determine the award recipients.  

Did you know?... continue reading

A Student Lesson Turned into Fun Teacher PD: Mathematics Assessment Project Resources

Submitted by Steven Rattendi

Good, solid and useful school-based PD for Math Teachers is often a challenge. Speakers can be hit or miss (and expensive), sometimes PD gets too bogged down in theory, and other times the focus of secondary school-based PD is so broad that teachers have a hard time applying it to their own subject areas and classrooms. Teachers often leave thinking that it would have been better simply to have been given the time to prep for tomorrow’s lessons.

A challenge I face is creating PD that reflects what we want our teachers to do and create in their classrooms, especially around the notion of “problem-based” curriculum and instruction. What better way to show its worth than by having teachers engage in solving problems together? Not only does it have the potential to remind teachers about the nature of mathematics, but it also gives them problems that they can bring directly into their classrooms.

I wasn’t sure I would find the right set of problems to use, but in the end, a lesson from the people at the Mathematics Assessment Project (out of the Shell Center) provided just the right kind of problems to have teachers leave the day exclaiming, “that was fun!”... continue reading

ATMIM Blogger of the Month: Jennifer Fairbanks of 8 is my lucky number
Submitted by Cole Gailus

Jennifer Fairbanks

Name: Jennifer Fairbanks
Twitter Handle: @HHSmath
Lives and works in: Hopkinton, MA
Teaches: Accelerated Algebra 1 and 2 and Foundations of Algebra 1
Extracurriculars: Coaches boys cross country, math team, and fishing club

Reasons for blogging: “I started reading Twitter, and that took me to reading blogs. I created my own blog so I could have a blogroll of all the blogs I like to read, but I also did it to share what I do in the classroom. Most of my ideas are from other teachers from Twitter or blogs. I try it and then I share out my experiences. Writing comes easy to me, so it doesn't take much time. I like looking back on lessons I've done in the past to remember how things went and what I might change. I also link to my blog in my teaching portfolio as part of my reflection. This school year I am taking part in #DILT- a Day in the Life of a Teacher when I blog about my day once a month. I chose the 8th.”

Featured post: “Going Vertical #VNPS”
"I first heard about VNPS - Vertical, non-permanent surfaces two years ago from Alex Overwijk when he spoke about how he used it in his classroom. He had the kids up and working at the boards in groups. I've been reading about it, seeing tweets about it. I heard about it again at my 1st Twitter Math Camp this summer and decided to go for it.

My first part was to prepare my room. I will try to describe the process here with lots of pictures.

I went to Home Depot and bought the bathroom board that measures 4 feet by 8 feet. I had them cut it in half and bought four pieces that measure 4x4 feet..." Continue reading at 8 is my lucky number.

Do you want to see your blog featured here? Let us know at!

Problem of the Month - Greatest Impossible Postage
Submitted by John Bookston

Using postage stamps of ONLY denomination 5 cents and 7 cents, carefully complete the table below to find all the possible postages.

Confirm that 23 is not possible.

Then: Find 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 in the table and explain why all greater amounts are possible.

Extension: Look for pairs of consecutive amounts of postage in the chart (such as 34 and 35)... continue reading

Share your news!

Has something exciting happened recently in your professional life? Are you planning an event or leading a PD session at your school? Have you published an article or book? Are you trying something new in your classroom? Let us know so we can share your news with the Massachusetts math educator community!

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