National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics
NCSM eNews April 2014
Welcome the April eNews
Hopefully the month of April will bring great weather after a long winter for the 2014 NCSM Annual Conference. Something new for this year's conference is the NCSM Conference APP-available for Apple or Android devices. To download to your device, visit 

If you have any questions or anything to add, please feel free to contact me at
President's Message


As we near the end of the 2013/14 school year and a long winter in many places, we turn our attention to year-end assessment and summer planning for teacher development. The NCSM Annual Conference in New Orleans this month provides ample opportunity for mathematics leaders to further develop their skills and strategies through sessions that focus on coaching, formative assessment, curriculum development, and many more.


Valerie L. Mills

President, NCSM



Check out the latest news on equity from the Education Trust at



-For up-to-date information regarding equity in mathematics education, please check out the TODOS homepage at for all of your equity needs.


Leadership Corner


Strategies to Foster Discussion in Math Classes


By Gary Einhorn


Despite a prominent place on the math practice standards and most teacher evaluation rubrics, rich student discourse about mathematical concepts and strategies continues to be missing from most classrooms, particularly in the upper grades.  While research is still light on this subject, there are two strategies teachers can try to engage students in discussions which are worth considering.


In a 2007 article from Mathematics Teacher, Catherine Stein adapted a previously published table to describe four levels of student discourse found in a math classroom. The first three consisted of teachers asking increasingly more rigorous questions of the class, while the fourth and highest level, occurred 

when students ask, and answer, rich questions to one another.


Stein concluded her article by describing the teachers' role in creating high levels of discourse among their students: "If all students are to be engaged, teachers must foster classroom discourse by providing a welcoming community, establishing norms, using supportive motivational discourse, and pressing for conceptual understanding." This is great advice for our math teachers, and those four techniques, when employed, have been proven to be effective in improving student discourse.  But for struggling teachers, more specific guidance is often needed.


One source of help can be found in an article by Molly Rothermel Rawding and Theresa Wills in the August 2012 issue of Mathematics Teaching in Middle School. In their article, "Discourse: Simple Moves that Work", they provide a case study of one teacher who develops a classroom culture of discourse with the help of six strategies: trust-building interviews, timed conversations, open-ended problems, strategic heads-up's to shyer students, sentence starters, and turn and talk.  Included in the article is a "troubleshooting guide" that lets teachers assess their room and suggests specific remedies to improve the classroom climate. Additional support for the struggling teacher can also be found by stealing a page or two from the ELA department. 


The ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) has published a resource entitled The Core Six. In it, they describe several strategies to improve comprehension in reading and, while the resource is predominantly geared towards the language arts, they also show how each strategy can be modified for use in the mathematics classroom at all grade levels.  Techniques such as "the Top Hat" can guide students towards discussing the similarities and differences of concepts, skills, or two related word problems.


It isn't enough to tell teachers what student discourse should look like, they need to have tools to guide their students efficiently.  For many students, who have spent years in math classes never talking with one another, this guidance is essential.  Identifying which strategies are best for raising the level of student discourse in mathematics is still very much an open topic.  If you have specific norms or engagement strategies which have worked in your schools, please share them via this online survey


In This Issue
President's Message
Leadership Corner

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46th Annual Conference
Highlighted Topics

What's Happening @ NCSM


-Register today for a NCSM Leadership Academy. Learn more at Leadership Academy Information


-Registration is now open for the 46th Annual Conference to be held in New Orleans, LA, April 7-9, 2014 at Annual Conference Registration  


-NCSM is participating
 in the Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership. More information can be found at MTEP 


Call For Manuscripts
The NSCM Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership is requesting individuals submit manuscripts for publication. See Call for Manuscripts for more details
Leadership Resources


Explore the Standards for Mathematical Practice in Action!


Explore EDC's ( for Illustrations of the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Illustrations include 1) a mathematics task and student dialogue that exemplify what student mathematical thinking aligned with the standards looks like when connected to mathematical content, 2) teacher reflection questions and a mathematical overview for teacher learning and 3) student materials related to the dialogue for classroom use. These Illustrations may be used in professional development settings as well as for individual learning and reflection. 


MATHCOUNTS is a national nonprofit devoted to helping middle school students not only succeed in math but truly enjoy it as well.  As you probably already know, despite the fact that the US spends the most money on education per capita, our students are ranked 25th globally for math proficiency.  MATHCOUNTS' third annual "Math Video Challenge" is a unique way to help change this trend.  Students create fun, engaging videos based on real-life applications of math.  They can do this in class, or outside of school with a parent or other volunteer.

So far this contest has gathered over 500 submissions and millions of views on the videos. Our overarching goal is simply to get as many students to participate as possible, with the hopes that this will spark their interest in math, and lead to a new generation of math leaders. With your help, we are confident we will reach this goal.

For more information on MATHCOUNTS or the Math Video Challenge, please visit our webpages at and, or feel free to contact Michelle Comendul, L7 CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS
5927 Balfour Ct. Suite 104 | Carlsbad CA 92008 T. 203.907.5777
Educational Technology
For an update on the latest in educational technology, check out EdTech Weekly Report
National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics