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CoMath Update for September 3, 2021

This might be the biggest CoMath Update ever! So big, I better give you a preview here:

  • CCTM Annual Conference
  • CML September Meeting
  • CoMath Conversation about math teacher retention
  • PAEMST application cycle now open
  • NCTM Grants
  • Bridges student books available
  • Setting the Standard webinars
  • ICYMI: NCTM+NCSM+ASSM guidance for this year

But first, let's begin with a great little nugget of teaching advice that's been on my mind all week.

I'll admit, as a teacher my questioning strategies needed a lot of work and advice like this would have been welcome. When I'm observing teachers, I tend to look for two things, informed by the work of Melissa Boston and others:

  1. Is the teacher pressing students to reveal their understanding?
  2. Is the teacher linking the ideas of one student to the ideas of other students, either now or to ideas in the past?

By pressing, we deepen students' understanding of math, and by linking, we help build a classroom learning community. I've seen much more complicated frameworks for making sense of classroom questioning, but for those of you looking to improve your questioning skills, this is a good place to start. If you're really serious, you'll get a coach or an observer, or record yourself, and you'll count up all the times you press and link while thinking about the quality of each one and how you could have done it better.

CCTM Annual Conference: Moving Forward

The Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics is again hosting their annual conference, and it's less than a month away! I first attended the CCTM Conference when schools had federal money to attend and math teachers from across the state showed up by the thousands. With a new influx of federal money, I encourage all you math teachers and math specialists to advocate for yourself and your needs, including being involved in CCTM and attending their conference and PD.

This year's conference is virtual and CCTM is using that flexibility to put together a top-notch program. First, on Wednesday evening (9/29), we'll host a national panel of experts: Theresa Wills, Marian Dingle, Zandra de Araujo, and José Vilson. If you're not familiar with these people, don't worry, CCTM has that covered, too. You can tune into a series of 30-minute "wee-binars" where you'll get an introduction to who these people are and their contributions to math education. Next, on Thursday evening (9/30), we'll host a similar panel of Coloradoans: Joseph Bolz (George Washington HS, DPS), Dominique Conner (Fountain-Ft. Carson), Yunnuen McLaughlin (Dual Immersion Academy, Mesa County Valley 51), and Lindsay Reiten (University of Northern Colorado). That panel will be moderated by past CCTM president Cathy Martin.

There will be some fun activities on Friday evening, but the main program will be on Saturday. First, we'll get a keynote from NCTM President-Elect Kevin Dykema, a long-time middle school teacher from Michigan, and then you'll have a choice of sessions to attend throughout the day. Registration for CCTM members is $41, and for non-members it's $55. If you're a preservice teacher, it's $25. Register today!

CML: Colorado Math Leaders

The Colorado Math Leaders (CML) will have our first meeting of 2021-2022 on Tuesday, September 14 from 12:30 to 2:30 pm on Zoom. (Show up at noon to eat lunch and chat with others as we wait for the meeting to begin.) We have a packed agenda for this meeting, including time for leaders to share the math initiatives and challenges in their districts, an introduction of a new book study, a fun math task, and updates about math activities around the state. I really want to see CML grow this year, and I know we have a lot of new math leaders! So if you're a specialist, a coach, a TOSA, a department head, a supervisor, it doesn't matter -- if you want to learn and develop as a leader in mathematics, then CML is the group for you.

CoMath Conversation: How do we retain our math teachers?

There was a rush this summer to hire math teachers, and a lot of positions around the state were left unfilled. So why were so many math teachers leaving, and what would have made them stay? It's more complicated than salary and benefits, as teachers consider job satisfaction, administrative support, professional learning and advancement opportunities, and relationships with colleagues and parents in their decisions to stay in their school or leave. On September 16 from 3:30 to 4:45, I'll facilitate a CoMath Conversation where I'll talk about what the research says and people can share what is and isn't working for them in their schools. Register today!

2021-2022 PAEMST Application Cycle Now Open

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest awards bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching. The award recognizes those teachers that have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas. Recipients of the award receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a paid trip to Washington D.C. for recognition and professional development, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

The 2021-2022 award cycle will award teachers in Grades K-6. To nominate a teacher (or to self-nominate), see the eligibility requirements and submit your nomination at the PAEMST website. This year's nomination cycle is a bit earlier than it is in recent years, so please note: nominations are due January 7, 2022, and applications must be completed by February 6, 2022. Colorado had a great group of applicants last year and has a proud history of recognizing Colorado math teachers with PAEMST awards, so please think about the excellent K-6 teachers of math in your area and nominate them!

NCTM Grants

NCTM has a number of grants with November 1 application deadlines. Want to do classroom research? Or connect math to other subjects? Or design innovative lessons? Develop teacher-leaders? Help pay for graduate work? All those things and more are covered by NCTM grants. One in particular that caught my eye this year is called the "Partnership for Transition to College Readiness Grant." There's a maximum $8000 grant available for a combined team of educators from high school and higher education to support innovation in 12th-grade preparation for a successful transition to college math. This award specifically targets students that your usual benchmarks say aren't ready for college math, so if you're looking to move past typical remedial courses and onto something new, it's a grant worth checking out.

Bridges Books Available

Brian Johnson of the Odyssey School of Denver has a class set of 30 Bridges 5th grade student books that he's willing to sell for half price. If interested, contact him at

STS Webinar Series

CDE's Office of Standards and Instructional Support is hosting their Setting the Standard webinar series on the first Wednesday of each month this fall. October's webinar is "Foundations of Educational Equity: Positioning Ourselves to Do the Work." To register for it and to see past and future webinars, head to the website.

ICYMI: Continuing the Journey: National Mathematics Guidance for 2021-2022

NCTM, NCSM, and ASSM have jointly released Continuing the Journey: Mathematics Learning 2021 and Beyond to help guide schools and teachers as we cope with the interruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Three key areas are addressed in this document:

  1. A focus on grade-level content
  2. Equitable, effective teaching practices
  3. Advocacy

Each area includes some recommended practices and resources, as well as things to avoid. To read an introduction to Continuing the Journey, read Trena Wilkerson's recent NCTM President's Message.

Managing Your CoMath Subscription

Did you change email addresses this summer? Be sure to update your CoMath subscription!