Get Motivated to Change

September 17, 2020

Get Motivated to Change


Contact: Christine Noddin, 703.620.9840,


RESTON —September 15, 2020— The October issue of Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PK–12 (MTLT), the new practitioner journal from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), highlights the key recommendations from the Catalyzing Change series,  a collection of three books intended to initiate the critical conversations on policies, practices, and issues that impact mathematics education. 


DeAnn Huinker, a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; Sarah B. Bush, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida; and Karen J. Graham, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, wrote October’s Front-and-Center article, “Catalyzing Change in School Mathematics: Creating the Opportunities Our Students Deserve,” to expand on key recommendations that can serve as catalysts for achieving an equitable mathematics education for each and every student.


Huinker said, “Our intent in writing this article was to motivate teachers, leaders, and stakeholders to begin difficult conversations about inequitable structures in order to move toward a more just and inclusive mathematics education system. As a focus for this important work, we overview the four key recommendations for PK–grade 12 mathematics from the Catalyzing Change series. Now more than ever, learning mathematics not only must include the development of deep conceptual understanding but also must empower students to use mathematics meaningfully to question, critique, and create solutions for our world.”


In keeping with the journal’s goal to provide relevant content for immediate use in the classroom, several articles with classroom teacher co-authors focus on real-world contexts, use of chalk talks and a unique approach to graphing problems.


Beyond Hooks: Real-World Contexts as Anchors for Instruction,” by Michelle L. Stephan and 

Luke T. Reinke, colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Julie K. Cline, a North Carolina middle school teacher, illuminate three characteristics of anchoring contexts that support students’ understanding of abstract mathematical ideas.


“It is exciting to see teachers and curriculum materials use ‘real-world’ contexts to introduce mathematics lessons! We have seen two ways this can go. Sometimes, the context is used to ‘hook’ or motivate students and quickly drops out of the discussion to let the mathematical idea be developed in the world of abstract symbols/rules,” says Stephan. “Other times, we’ve seen teachers use the context as an ‘anchor,’ to ground students’ understanding of the mathematical ideas. We hope this article helps teachers and others to see the potential in the latter approach!”


“Developing Norms with Silent Discussions,” by Cory A. Bennett, a professor at Idaho State University, and Mick J. Morgan, a fourth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School in Pocatello, Idaho, shares Morgan’s experience of using chalk talks in his classroom and the benefits this provided throughout the year.


When asked about the key benefits of their article for the reader, Bennett and Morgan stated, “It provides insight into using chalk talks, a silent and inclusive discussion protocol. This is especially important if teachers want to co-create learning norms with their students. Ultimately, it can help other educators understand some of the nuances when it comes to establishing norms for learning mathematics, and then how to leverage and build on these norms throughout the year.” 


“#WODB: The Power of Dynamic Representations,” by Nina G. Bailey, a student at the University of North Carolina; Samuel D. Reed, a doctoral candidate at Middle Tennessee State University; Kristen Fye, a high school mathematics teacher at Charlotte Teacher Early College; Allison W. McCulloch, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina; and Jennifer N. Lovett, an assistant professor at Middle Tennessee State University, introduces a tool that looks beyond the static characteristics in a Which One Doesn’t Belong? graphing problem.


“Getting students to move beyond noticing and discussing static characteristics of functions can be challenging; we wanted to share how pairing a well-known instructional routine—like Which One Doesn’t Belong?—with a dynamic representation of function can provide students with easy entry to begin noticing dynamic characteristics of function,” says Bailey. 


NCTM encourages those interested in contributing to the publication to review the writing guidelines.




The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is the public voice of mathematics education, supporting teachers to ensure equitable mathematics learning of the highest quality for each and every student through vision, leadership, professional development and research. With 40,000 members and more than 200 Affiliates, it is the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving mathematics education in prekindergarten through grade 12. NCTM is dedicated to ongoing dialogue and constructive discussion with all stakeholders about what is best for students and envisions a world where everyone is enthused about mathematics, sees the value and beauty of mathematics, and is empowered by the opportunities mathematics affords.