During the fall season of conferences Annie, Max, and I took the opportunity to find out what types of questions folks would ask if prompted to Ask the NCTM Community. We set up a bulletin board in the NCTM Central Networking Lounge at the Regional conferences in Phoenix (October 26-28) and Philadelphia (October 31-November 2). We also asked visitors to our booth in the CMC-South Exhibit Hall in Palm Springs (November 4-5) to offer questions.

Before reading through the questions that we gathered, imagine what you might ask if given the chance to Ask the NCTM Community.  Would it be a question about

  • a particular math topic that you find difficult to present to students? Might you want an activity suggestion?
  • your room environment?
  • how to best assess student learning?
  • where to find a particular journal article that you saw but can’t remember where it was?
  • using technology as a tool to help students understand a particular concept?

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bulletin boardRegional Conferences Networking Lounge – bulletin board

Below are the specific questions and even some community responses we gathered at the three conferences. Do you have a different question to post as a reply? On a related note, view T2T’s Facelift. Consider posting your question to the existing T2T service which is one of our starting points as we think about what will make a useful Ask the NCTM Community service.


Regionals – Phoenix and Philadelphia
Bulletin Board Community Questions and Responses


[Q] How do we convince our school not to use timed tests in math?
[R] Show them research about timed tests causing stress and negative attitudes/mindsets.

[Q] Coaches & Instructional Leaders: What baby steps do you take to encourage traditional teachers to move in the direction of more effective teaching practices?

[Q] How can teachers help move the needle in their district when traditionalism is so ingrained.
[R] I find that using HATTIE’S Visible Learning Research helps. It gives a resource-based starting point.
[R] We use the MQI rubric and a “describe then elevate” process. Come to booth #507 – I’d love to chat! Or: @MQ1claire on Twitter

[Q] What is an effective yet easily implementable way to unlock BYOD potential?

[Q] Does NCTM have a position on whether this is a trapezoid?

[Q] How do you make teaching logarithmic functions fun???

[Q] Any ideas on teaching proofs in Geometry??? Thanks.
[R] Teaching Geometry Proofs: When first starting proofs, I use “Puzzle Proofs”. I cut out the statement and reasons and mix them all up and then the students have to put them in the correct order. I’ve found this help them to see how things fit together and it’s more hands on than doing just fill-in-the-blank types.

[Q] Teachers/Curriculum People: If you’re using good tasks + listening to students, where do you get resources for what to do next

  • For students who are struggling?
  • When the whole class is struggling?
  • When you uncover gaps?

[Q] I know I’ve seen a journal article on using algebra tiles – can you point me to it?

[Q] Admins: What resources help you “sell” Common Core to parents?
[R] See Common Core Math for Dummies by Christopher Danielson for some ideas?

[Q] Is there a crosswalk between CCSS and NCTM Standards?

[Q] I am trying to incorporate modern teaching techniques and activities but am somewhat afraid that these will take so much more time. Is this true? What about the pressure to cover so much material in the course of a year?
[R] Engaging students in sense-making using rich tasks does take more time than telling—but that time is an investment…an investment in building understanding & retention of conceptual knowledge vs. the unlikely recall of factoids.
[R] I agree. The initial time investment pays off w/ deeper understanding. Also once students get in the routine, they become more independent, questioning one another rather than waiting for you.

[Q] Argh! Proportions in 6th grade. Activities please??
[R] Try prodigygame! You can assign topics in a “pokeman” style game that encourages learning.

[Q] How are you using Standards-based grading authentically?

[Q] Admins: What suggestions do you have to promote “Assessing as you go” instead of a bombarding of Diagnostics 5x per school year?

[Q] How do I encourage more coherence in our curriculum?

[Q] I’d love to use more problem solving with my 7th graders but there just isn’t enough time. Do you have ideas to help me?

[Q] Who can suggest an engaging activity for a kick-off lesson about quadratic equations for my Algebra I students?


CMC-South: Bulletin Board Community Questions and Responses


[Q] How can I make factoring trinomials more applicable/interesting to students?

[Q] Will and when will NCTM create an “Open” research journal?

[Q] What are some good, interactive apps that would help students make sense of linear functions?

[Q] What does it mean for students to feel ownership of the classroom? How do I create that?

[Q] Which is better for creating student understanding? Individual work or group work?

[Q] What can I do to better integrate cell phones in the math classroom as a tool?

[Q] What can we do to create an “easy” way for teachers connect in forming a learning network?

[Q] How do we encourage more coherence in our curriculum?

[Q] Does NCTM have a position whether this is a trapezoid?

[Q] How can I register for the San Antonio Annual in person while I’m here at CMC-South? How can I volunteer at NCTM San Antonio? And do volunteers get discounted registration?

[Q] Student: How do I solve 2/5 + 9/10?
[R] Teacher: (give breakdown w/ more examples)

[Q] Comparing numbers (2, 3, 4 – digit) is tedious. It’s always about just place value understanding. Which is important…but BORING. What are some good contextual compelling problems that create the headache that comparing #s is the aspirin?