May 2018 Edition

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

Letter from the President May 2018
Submitted by Kaitlyn Aspell 

As April break winds down, I am reminded of how much I needed the time to step back and reflect on the year thus far: what has gone well, and what am I looking to improve upon for next year.  This year was big for me, as I took a moment and recognized I was overwhelmed and asked for help. I realized how important that step was for me and how often newer teachers and veteran teacher forget to ask for help when needed.  

Sometimes I have looked for help in the wrong places, but this year I looked to my fellow board members and teachers who I met at conferences.  I started to ask questions about their classes, the progressions for their students, and how they taught certain concepts. I have to say that I learned a lot!  

As an example, I have been struggling to ensure that my students are prepared for MCAS and when I asked teachers at the Winter Dine & Discuss, I learned there are things being done in other districts that we could implement in our own.  One main takeaway was all students had access to calculators if they did not have one for the calculator section. (In my school, we have a fun ten minutes where the sophomores run around borrowing calculators from teachers and friends. I even had an English teacher who asked if I had calculators that I could leave in his room during MCAS, which I thought was an excellent idea.)  When I came back from the conference, I spoke with my department head who listened and went out and fought to buy 50 scientific calculators for our students during MCAS. I think this will be a relief for many of our students, and I am so grateful that other teachers were willing to share!

I could go on…  But, we should keep this brief!  Spring is time where my students need me focused and re-energized.  ATMIM has always been a community that has helped me reflect on both the good and the bad, and where to focus and put my energy.  This community has taught me to ask for help, to question and dig deeper, and to take time to breathe. Our community gets stronger with more involvement, so while it is Spring and we reflect on our year thus far, and pump ourselves up for the strong finish, I ask you to get involved.  Ask us for help, and tell us what we can do to support you and your students. If you need answers to questions or a day to develop a skill, let us know and we can work to support those needs.

I wish you all a happy spring, and best of luck with the end of the year!

Spring Conference Update

Submitted by Sandy Ollerhead

With our lineup of 25 dynamic presenters ready to share their favorite technology resources at our Spring Conference, we know many of you shared our disappointment that the conference needed to be cancelled due to a forecast of snow.  We are currently working on a new venue for a rescheduled conference with the same theme of Using Technology to Enhance Mathematical Instruction and hope to have many of the same presenters join us.  We are waiting to hear back from a potential venue about availability in October and will share that date once it is confirmed.  Thanks to all of the presenters and those who signed up for the conference for your understanding and we hope that you will be able to join us in the fall!


Submitted by Nancy Johnson

As we look forward to spring and the emergence of new growth, ATMIM would like to encourage you to join the ATMIM Board.  This year two director positions are open and the position of secretary.  If you have an interest in improving mathematics education and would like to work with some friendly, dedicated individuals in doing so, then please consider sharing your passion for learning with us.  You don’t have to live close by to attend meetings.  ATMIM would like to better represent members from all parts of the state of Massachusetts.  Our Board meetings can now be attended online and they occur about four times a year.  We are intending to reach out to the entire mathematics community throughout the state and would like to invite you to help lead the way.   In addition to the elected positions, ATMIM has appointed positions available as well.  Don’t hesitate any longer, contact Nancy Johnson and let your passion for improving mathematics continue to grow!

Upcoming PD Opportunities 

Submitted by Alison Mello

MassMATE Spring Symposium, Assumption College May 30

Join other coaches, specialists, and teacher leaders for a day of learning and networking. The 2018 theme of "Building Mathematical Leaders at All Levels" will guide a multitude of sessions for elementary, middle and high school levels. Dr. Heather Hill from Harvard University will kick off a great day of professional learning.

$75 (includes MassMATE membership)

Foxborough Public Schools Summer Institute, John J. Ahern Middle School  June 27-28

Join educators from over 30 districts around the Commonwealth for a day learning practical strategies for effective instruction in mathematics, literacy, social emotional learning, science, and special education. 

$100 for one day/ $150 for both days (10 pdp's awarded for both days)

Registration information coming soon  (for details email

Wayland STEAM Institute June 29-30

Who should attend? Grade K-12 teachers, instructional coaches, special educators, staff developers, principals, curriculum coordinators.

$325 for 2 days

New Cubed Conference, Siena College (near Albany New York)  July 8-11

Exciting program featuring outstanding mathematics educators from the northeast and featuring narrow grade band workshops. STEM Camp for participants’ children grades 1 to 8 run by experienced educators. 

Approximately $250 for commuters, $500 for those boarding on campus

Texas Instruments Professional Development Summit, Worcester, MA June 27-28, 8:00 AM- 3:00 PM 

Making math and science meaningful with the use of Ti Technology, coding and STEM topics. 

$150 without technology, $250 with technology (Calculator and Hub)

Featured Resource: Same or Different 
Submitted by Sandy Ollerhead

The website Same or Different?is part of the ever growing list of resources that started from math teachers collaborating on Twitter. Brian Bushart started the website and others from the math Twitter community shared their contributions to be added to the site.

According to the website, “Same or Different? is a routine that provides students opportunities to construct arguments when comparing objects, such as numbers or shapes.”  Students are shown two pictures and asked to consider the relationships between the pictures by explaining how they are the same and how they are different.

This video from the Teaching Channel shows the routine being used in a Kindergarten class, but a quick perusing of the website shows applications that span the grades from K-12.  

The website is organized into the following categories: Quantity to 5, Quantity to 10, Place Value and Unitizing, Addition and Subtraction, Multiplication and Division, Fractions, Measurement, Geometry, and Graphs.

I recently used the example below contributed by Bridget Dunbar with my Algebra 1 students as part of an introduction on parabolas.  

Problem of the Month - 
Submitted by Jason Hardin

One day a king left his castle with a bag of silver coins to wander his kingdom. To the first peasant he met, he gave one-half his coins plus 2 more. A little later, he met another peasant to whom he also gave half his coins plus 2 more.  Walking on, he met a third peasant and again gave half his coins plus 2 more. Finally, the king went home with 2 coins left in his bag.

  • a)    How many coins did the king have to begin with?
  • b)    If the king instead ended up with 3 coins left in his bag, how many coins did he begin with? How about if he ended up with 4             coins? 5 coins? What about if he returned with k coins?
  • c)    The next day the king repeated his journey. This time he gave each of the three peasants one third of the coins plus two more.         How many coins did the king have to begin with?
  • d)    Is it possible that the king ended this second journey with 3 coins? Why or why not?

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!

Call for blogs! 

Have a blog? Let us know at and be featured in a future edition of Math Murmurs as our featured Blogger!

Coming Soon...

Back by popular demand are the "Dine and Discusses"!  We are so glad to be working with a wide group of teachers and teacher educators to bring less formal, but just as important meet-ups!  In the early summer, look for dates to come out for the Dine and Discuss series for the 2018-19 school year.  Our goal is to bring together teachers in different locations around the state to talk about topics that matter.  Look for more information this summer!

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