Vol V

No. 5

Winter 2014



The concept of infinity is explained vividly in Hilbert's Hotel. This graphic was created by Editor Cheryl Hughes using THINGLINK.com, a convenient tool to combine many media on one topic. Check out all the links as you mouse over the image.

President's Message
by Kaycie Maddox

We live in a fascinating time of change and transition in the field of mathematics education. The state standards have changed for a second time since 2005, the state assessments now dig much deeper into students’ mathematical understanding, and the state teacher evaluations include a measurement of student growth. This is no longer school as any of us experienced it first hand as students, forcing mathematics teachers everywhere across the state of Georgia to step out into an uncharted world of mastering new expectations and instructional practices.

The Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics (GCTM) has existed since 1950 to represent and support the interests of its members within and across the state, and this is no less true in this current climate of change and transition. The mission statement of GCTM is four-fold: to promote a high quality mathematics education for all students, to encourage an active interest in mathematics and in mathematics education, to promote ongoing professional development for mathematics education, and to promote and reward excellence in the teaching of mathematics in the state of Georgia. In an effort to address this mission statement in these modern circumstances, the theme of the Georgia Mathematics Conference 2014 was “Mathematics for ALL: Let’s Build Bridges” to speak to the opportunity of providing access and equity for every mathematics student in our state. GMC 2015 will continue the discourse for this essential aspect of student learning.

The Georgia Summer Mathematics Academies sponsored by GCTM will take place in four locations across the state during the summer of 2015. These Summer Academies will continue the tradition of providing high-quality professional learning for each grade-level and course of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. Additionally, the advocacy efforts of GCTM have stepped up considerably across 2014. Math Day at the Capitol was an inaugural event in March of 2014, providing opportunities for members and officers of GCTM to discuss educational concerns with our state legislators. Math Day at the Capitol 2015 is scheduled for February 24th. Specific details for this annual event will be forthcoming. The objective of these deeper ventures into advocacy is to keep the concerns and expertise of GCTM and its members before those who make decisions which affect each teacher in the state.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” is often quoted from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. This quote, along with the sentences following it within the novel, depict a clear choice for the book’s characters. Their choice, much like ours today, was to determine how they would interpret and act upon the circumstances of their times. It is my hope that we will see the reality of the changes and transitions before us, and we will choose to act upon them in a constructive manner with the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics leading the way. 

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Don’t Tell Kids They Are Good at Math!
by Tom Ottinger

I recently had the pleasure of representing GCTM at a Georgia Department of Education STEM conference in Athens. One of the keynote speakers, Ken Wesson, said that we’re not helping students by telling them that they’re good at math. As a neuroscientist, he had extensive research about how people learn in order to justify that assertion. We won’t go into all of that now, but the logic of his claim is that when we tell kids they’re good at something, we imply that it should be easy for them. If it’s not, then they think something is wrong with them and they’re scared of failure. That’s why successful students are often reluctant to take challenging classes.

So what should we do to offer encouragement? This is going to sound obvious, but it’s true: praise hard work! Praise effort! Praise perseverance! When we interview students for the Governor’s Honors Program, one of the things we always look for is a willingness to keep trying even if things get difficult. That’s a better indicator of future success than measures of ability or intelligence.

The United States is one of very few developed countries in the world where people believe in the so-called “math gene,” i.e., that your ability in mathematics is something you’re born with. As a teacher, you’ve undoubtedly heard parents say “I was never any good in math, so my child isn’t either.” In reality, no matter how “good” you think you are at math, you can get better. So how do you do that? You work at it. You challenge yourself. You risk failure and if you fail, you learn from that so you can do better in the future.

The next time a student talks to you about possible careers, encourage them to think about what interests them, not what they find easy. In the long run, they’ll enjoy it more and find it more rewarding. Finally, if it’s hard for you to make the switch from praising ability to praising effort, I applaud you for staying with it even though it takes work.

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Elementary Teacher of Excellence
Jennifer Cormican
Glynn County Schools

Teacher of Promise
Erin Talley
Osborne High School

Secondary Teacher of Excellence
Julie Pinto
Marietta High School

Dwight Love

Carolyn Smothers
Tattnall Square Academy

John Neff
Marian Fox
Accepted by her colleagues; see the article below.

Gladys M. Thomason

Ellice Martin
Valdosta State University

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John Neff Award

This year’s John Neff Award to Dr. Marian Fox was awarded posthumously. Our community took a hard hit when we lost Dr. Fox to Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease last October. Many of GCTM’s members have been touched by Dr. Fox either by having her as a teacher at Kennesaw State University, being a participant in one of her many grant-funded professional development workshops or series, or being advised by her in one of the graduate programs at KSU. You can close your eyes and see her at the front of a classroom, calling the group to order by saying, “Teachers!” She was magic in the classroom. She loved to read the Dr. Suess book “Horray for Diffendoofer Day!”, which was published after Dr. Suess’s death but based on his original sketches and ideas. The book was a commentary on high-stakes testing. She would gather her “students” (which were often teachers) around her like a class of elementary school children on the carpet and read the book, holding it up so the group could see the pictures on each page.

When Dr. Fox was in the hospital, many of those touched by her shared stories and comments about her. One person called Dr. Fox her “most memorable teacher”. Another commented that when she began her master’s degree, “I thought I was too old and set in my ways to learn new ways of reaching students. With her help I realized that we are never too old to keep learning new things and good teachers do whatever they can to help kids learn”. They called her inspiring, full of wisdom, intelligent, and several said she changed their lives.

Dr. Fox left a wonderful legacy that each of us should look toward as we struggle with the daily grind. She worked much of her life to inspire Georgia teachers to help their students make sense of mathematics. We can honor her legacy most by being the teachers she expected all of us to be.

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Fun, competition, lunch, prizes, trophies!

Competition to be held at Thomson Middle School in Centerville, Georgia.

Your school may bring up to 8 students who will compete against other Georgia middle schools. The purpose of the tournament is to foster interest in mathematics among middle school students.

Non-GCTM member registration: 5 questions and $10, or $20

GCTM member registration: 5 questions or $10

For more information and to register, visit GCTM's Competition web page.

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Reflections from a Seasoned Teacher
by Cheryl Hughes

Teaching is so cool when . . .

  1. You hear one student say to another, “Yea, remember how we folded that Patty paper yesterday to find the midpoint of the side?”

  2. A student asks you a question like, “What have I done wrong here?” And you ask, “How do you know you have done something wrong?” And your student responds, “Because if this angle was 80 degrees, my triangle would have 200 degrees in it, and everyone knows that the sum of the angles of a triangle is only 180 degrees!”

  3. Your student is constructing special lines in an equilateral triangle for the first time, after only scalene triangle experience, and they yell out spontaneously, “Wait! The points of concurrency are all the same point! This is so cool!”

  4. You overhear one student say to another, “You are an expert at that! Thanks for showing me how to do it.”

  5. You hear a student say, “This is the most fun I have EVER had in math class!”

Now don’t get me wrong. We will not hear these all in one day, all in one week, and maybe even not all in one year! We may not even hear them all in one lifetime of teaching.

But to hear even one will remind us that we are making a difference. We are getting through to some. These small validations keep us going and inspire us to work our craft and be the best teachers of mathematics we can be.

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Do This TODAY!
by Susan Craig, Membership Director

It is always good to meet so many of you at The Georgia Mathematics Conference at Rock Eagle. Many of you attend every year and some of you are new to the conference. So there are always old acquaintances to see again, and new ones to foster. My wish is that all of you become members of our wonderful organization for the duration of your career and longer.

My other wishes, as we face a new calendar year, are that we make resolutions with regard to our membership in GCTM.

Resolve to….

….be an active member of GCTM by reading the journal regularly;

….renew membership annually;

…help double membership rolls by encouraging, inviting, and maybe even sponsoring a new GCTM member and by reminding lapsed members of the value of membership;

…keep your membership data record up-to-date by logging onto www.gctm.org;

…share ideas to help make GCTM a better organization, especially in this age when personal contact is so often replaced by technology.

YOU are GCTM! We don’t exist without your active involvement! Let’s all work together to strengthen this excellent and strong advocate for the best mathematics education possible for Georgia students!

Peace and Joy this holiday season and into the new year!

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Once again, GCTM will be hosting Summer Academies for teachers of mathematics across the state.

Thank you to the many of you that have given your advice for locations, volunteered to help, and offered your suggestions to make this summer the best academy yet!

Locations and dates have not yet been confirmed, but they will be posted on our website in early January.

Be sure to watch for more details at www.gctm.org.

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GCTM Elections Ahead

Nominations are now open for the offices of:

  • President-Elect

  • Secretary

  • Vice President of Awards and Honors

  • Vice president of Constitution & Policy

Please consider running or nominating a colleague or a teacher you know. For information or to nominate, email Lynn Stallings.

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NCTM Election Results!

The results of the NCTM 2014 Election are in.

Congratulations to Matthew R. Larson, Nadine Bezuk, John SanGiovanni, Denise Spangler, and Marilyn Strutchens! Read more about the members elected to serve on the NCTM Board of Directors. The NCTM Board sets the direction, establishes policy, and oversees the activities of the Council. Board Directors serve three-year terms. All terms begin at the conclusion of the NCTM 2015 Annual Meeting and Exposition in April.

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NCTM's 2015 Annual Meeting & Exposition

Housing for NCTM's 2015 Annual Meeting & Exposition in Boston, April 15–18, is now open. Reserve your room early for NCTM's headquarters hotel—The Westin Boston Waterfront—or the many NCTM official hotels near the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center to secure the best possible rate. Guaranteed lowest rates with no booking or service fees, networking opportunities, and complimentary shuttle service! Housing is selling quickly–reserve your room today.

Save the date for the nation's premier math education event.

  • 700+ sessions, workshops, and bursts

  • Common Core best practices

  • Current strategies for the classroom, pre-K–12

  • Expert speakers and presentations

  • Networking opportunities

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GCTM Executive Board

President – Kaycie Maddox

Past President and Treasurer – Dan Funsch

Intern TreasurerNickey Ice

Executive Director – Tom Ottinger

Membership Director – Susan Craig

NCTM Representative – Dottie Whitlow

Secretary – Debbie Kohler

IT Director – Paul Oser

eREFLECTIONS Editor – Cheryl Hughes

VP for Advocacy – Shelly Allen

VP for Constitution and Policy – Patti Barrett

VP for Honors and Awards – Peggy Pool

VP for Regional Services – Valerie Lemon

VP for Competitions – Chuck Garner

Conference Board Chair – Tammy Donalson

Intern eREFLECTIONS Editor Becky Gammill

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Table of Contents

President's Message - by Kaycie Maddox

Don’t Tell Kids They Are Good at Math! - by Tom Ottinger

Rock Eagle Award Winners

John Neff Award

GCTM Middle School Mathematics Tournament

Reflections from a Seasoned Teacher - by Cheryl Hughes

Do This TODAY - by Susan Craig, Membership Director

GCTM 2015 Summer Academy

GCTM Elections Ahead

NCTM Election Results!

NCTM's 2015 Annual Meeting & Exposition

GCTM Executive Board


Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics | PO Box 5865, Augusta, GA 30916 | 1-855-ASK-GCTM