Friday, August 11, 2017

Does it bring you joy?

Teaching is a tough job. In these times, when teachers are political targets, it can be easy to get bogged down in all the hard and terrible parts of the job.  In those moments, it is hard to remember exactly why you started teaching in the first place. 

This past year I read a book entitled The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  The book was written by an organizer named Marie Kondo.  The book focuses on her method for helping people declutter.  The primary question that her clients have to answer about each possession is "Does it bring you joy?".  This year I have tried to use that advice to focus on the things I love about my job rather than the things that I don't.  

My youngest daughter whose laughter brings me joy
The years between 0 and 22 are a time of wonder and discovery.  I got into teaching so that I could get a chance to experience that wonder and discovery alongside the students I teach.  I take so much joy from watching my students learn new things, overcome obstacles, and discover who they want to be when they grow up.  I am  continually humbled that I get to be a part of that development for so many children and young adults (including two children that I gave birth to). 

This past week, we had our second annual MCubed.  I spent two days surrounded by dedicated teachers from all across the state.  I got see the joy they get from working with students.  That joy is so evident in the way they talk about what they do, their energy, and their commitment.  Working with teachers like these is another thing that brings me joy. 

A new school year is upon us.  I hope that this year you celebrate those things about teaching that bring you joy and let go of all the parts of teaching that do not. Celebrate the little breakthroughs and the big ones.  Save the emails from grateful parents and colleagues.  Take time for yourself and your family.  Rediscover all the things that brought you to this profession. 

Best Wishes,  Hilary

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Participate in MCubed from afar

As a reminder, MCubed is next week.  We have posted the schedule at  If you aren't able to join us in person, you can still follow the conversation virtually.  We will be using Twitter and the hashtag #mctmmath to discuss conference topics both days.  

Congratulations to Jake Warner for his winning t-shirt design.  All attendees will be receiving a t-shirt and Jake will receive a free 2018 membership to MCTM.

See you all next week!

Friday, July 21, 2017

MBI Presentation

In June 2017, MCTM provided a Number Talks presentation at the 2017 MBI Institute in Bozeman.  It was co-presented by Becky Berg and Leanne Yenny. This was the largest institute yet, with 1400 people in attendance.  The Number Talks Session was a 3 hour presentation that included 90 participants from across the state.  

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 3.10.24 PM.pngBefore we go any further, you might be asking yourself, “What exactly is A Number Talk routine anyways?”  A Number Talk is short (5-15 minutes), ongoing daily routine that provides students with meaningful practice with  mental computation:

During this presentation, Montana educators were introduced to the theory, structure and focus of Number Talks.  They learned how Number Talks can be a valuable classroom routine in which students are making sense of mathematics, developing efficient computation strategies, and communicating their reasoning and solutions.  Participants engaged in Number Talks and understood the importance of the key components as well as how to use Number Talks to build classroom community. Leanne and Becky also discussed how sharing this routine is valuable to parents as well.

Participants were highly engaged throughout this 3 hour session.   Participants not only solved  problems mentally (ex. 70 - 34), but then watched video clips to see how students engaged in these same problems.  These classroom video examples were very helpful for them to see what  this routine looks like with students.

Leanne & Becky were pleased to see the engagement and hear their reflective comments on this routine. When given opportunities to share and discuss strategies, they were pleasant surprised what great risk-takers there were in this large group of 90 people! Strategies based on place value, properties, and the relationship were utilized, along with introductory experiences with an open number line.

Becky & Leanne want to say “thanks” to MBI and MCTM for allowing them to share this powerful routine with educators!  

Sunday, July 2, 2017

MCTM Small Classroom Grant Awardee - Marie Stavish

With the MCTM Small Classroom Grant I was able to purchase 8 tablets for my classroom. Students are now able to access Desmos, TenMarks, and other math apps. With the tablets and iPads already
available, my classes now enjoy a two student to one device ratio. We use Desmos to play marble slides both with lines and parabolas and students also enjoy playing parking garage. I use TenMarks to supplement our daily work and plan to use the tablets and iPads more extensively next year.

BTW…anyone have any great android apps they would like to share with me?!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hotels for MEA/MFT in October

Here is the room reservation information for MEA/MFT in October.  We have two options for hotels with group rates.
Option 1: Hilton Garden Inn - this is where the Teacher of the Year banquet will be held.

We have 15 rooms booked there for Wednesday, Oct. 18, and Thursday, Oct. 19, and 15 rooms for Friday, Oct. 20. 
These are 2 queen beds for $134 a night.
Reservations must be booked by Sept. 18th.

Make reservations online:
Group Name: Montana Council for Teachers of Mathematics
Group Code: MCTM
Check-in: 18-OCT-2017
Check-out: 21-OCT-2017
Hotel Name: Hilton Garden Inn Missoula
Hotel Address: 3720 North Reserve Street
  Missoula, Montana
Phone Number: 4064593050

Option 2: Holiday Inn Express which is across the street from the Hilton.  These rates may go up some depending on how many rooms  are reserved.
Our negotiated rate is $99 for either size room.  There are 13 double queens and 12 Kings reserved Wednesday and Thursday nights and 5 of each reserved for Friday night.
Reservations made by telephone or online
Group code - MTC

150 Expressway
Missoula, MT 59808

Rooms must be reserved by Sept. 30th for our negotiated rate.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Remember the Ala...math by Shari Kepner (MCTM Scholarship winner)

I am very thankful for the financial support MCTM offers its members to seek out professional development. I used an MCTM teacher scholarship to help finance my trip to San Antonio in April for the NCTM Annual Meeting & Exposition.

The adventure started with a fabulously uneventful evening flight from Bozeman to Salt Lake City. Things started to get exciting when David “The Admiral” Robinson walked onto my flight from Salt Lake to San Antonio. For the record, a 7’1” man can fit within the confines of first class seating. I practiced my sly cell camera skills in baggage claim; unfortunately, I will not be able to supplement my teacher salary with any lucrative deals from paparazzi firms.

The weather in San Antonio was marvelous, as was the food and the Riverwalk. I was happy to meet up with friends from around Texas, including a member of my grad program cohort as well as a former student who is now teaching in Austin. One of my favorite aspects of travelling to national math conferences is randomly bumping into other members of the Montana math family. Maybe the real joy is knowing that our Montana math family is rather small and it is both joyful and relatively easy to network with each other across our geographically large state.

As a fellow Penn State graduate, meeting John Urschel was a real highlight of the trip for me. (Yes, I did ask him to sign my graphing calculator.) I enjoyed his keynote address and my favorite quote was, “If math isn’t for you, then money probably isn’t either.” His message inspired me to do more to encourage kids to not just pursue their math prowess in science related fields, but that I should encourage more students to become mathematicians.

The best individual session I attended was titled, “The Truth About Mathematical Modeling.”
I was hoping to find a little more clarity in parsing the similarities and differences between the CCSS Modeling conceptual category and the CCSS Modeling math practice. What I found was that - YIKES! – seemingly few people understand or recognize modeling in math classrooms. I’m thankful for the work that STREAM continues to do to help Montana math educators move toward integrating modeling into their math classrooms.

I have wanted to visit Alamo since 1985, and you can probably guess which Tim Burton film inspired that desire. Security Officer Limon was not amused when I asked where the basement was, but she did graciously pose for a photo next to the map of the Alamo grounds with me. Ahhh, we can’t be serious all of the time, can we?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MSU-Bozeman summer online course: M518: Statistics for Teaching

Montana math standards call for increased knowledge of statistics.  Do you want to improve your comfort level with data, variation, and inference? MSU-Bozeman's online summer course will expand your view of statistics as a dynamic and useful decision-making tool. Details are below! 
  • M518: Statistics for Teaching (online)
  • Dates: June 12 – July 28 (seven weeks)
  • Format: Weekly projects, asynchronous discussions, simulations using TinkerPlots software
  • More information: 
  • Still have questions? Contact the course coordinator: 
Course Description: Stochastic concepts including probabilistic underpinnings of statistics, measures of central tendency, variability, correlation, distributions, sampling, and simulation. Exploratory data analysis including experiments, surveys, measures of association and inferential statistics. Discussion of methods for teaching statistics in secondary mathematics and science. This course is designed to engage students using a modeling and simulation approach to inference. Students will be exposed to numerous examples of real-world applications of statistics that are designed to help them think like statisticians and develop a conceptual understanding of statistics. Students will gain an understanding of the foundational concepts of data, variation and inference, as well as an appreciation for the fundamental role that statistics plays in a host of disciplines, such as business, economics, law, and medicine.