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A Week of Inspirational Math
Amy's ClassAmy's Class

Influenced by an online class of Jo Boaler as well as the work of Carol Dweck, Amy Rice, a mathematics teacher at Keyser Middle School, is changing the  mindsets of her students.  On Boaler’s youcubed website, Amy was delighted to find what Boaler entitled, “A Week of Inspirational Mathematics.”  The tasks that are included encourage students to see mathematics as a “broad , interesting and visual subject that involves deep thinking.”  It also includes important growth mindset messages that will increase students’ confidence causing them to persevere with difficult problems and use their mistakes as a springboard to greater learning.  

In one of the scenarios “Number Visuals,” students investigate different representations of numbers.  Amy’s seventh grade students immediately were engaged in noticing what happened in each representation from “all the circles are primes” to “look at the factors in this one.”   When students were asked to create their own visual representation for the number 36 as a homework assignment, they shared their ideas in a gallery walk the following day.  Armed with post-its, students commented on their classmates’ work using vocabulary like “I noticed you used the factors in a different way” or “I like how you justified your method” or “You did a good job verifying your thinking.”   They were eager to ask each other questions as they were curious about the various ways that other students had created their representations.  This investigation provided students with an opportunity to make connections between numbers and pictures that clearly not only deepened  the students’ understanding, but also provided an environment that encouraged them to take risks to further their learning.

WVCTM Salutes the 2016 Award Winners

Jeanne FinsteinJeanne FinsteinThe most prestigious award given by WVCTM is the Distinguished Service Award, presented to the individual who has done exemplary work statewide in mathematics education. The award includes a Captain’s Chair with an engraved plaque, hence it is often referred to as “The Chair” Award. The 2016 recipient is Dr. Jeanne Finstein, currently President of Polyhedron Learning Media, a technology development company that specializes in creating educational software, as well as audio, video, and print materials. Jeanne received her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, her master’s degree from Wheeling Jesuit University, and her doctorate also from WVU. She began her career as a high school mathematics teacher, primarily at Wheeling Park High School. After twenty years in public education, she became part of the team at the NASA Classroom of the Future at Wheeling Jesuit. Following this fourteen year stint which included several leadership positions, she founded Polyhedron Learning Media. As its President and Director of Development, she oversees the designing of teaching materials for both formal and informal settings for age groups from kindergarten through adult. As a member of WVCTM, Jeanne has served on the WVCTM Executive Committee in the position of Community Relations Chair since 2007. She has spent nearly ten years as the extremely efficient official photographer and publicist of WVCTM events, especially the annual meeting. In addition, at the conferences she has given numerous presentations on a variety of topics, such as integrating the use of mathematics cartoons to capture students’ imaginations and promote an interest in problem solving. Jeanne served on the Ohio County Board of Education for eight years and is now a member of the Boards of Directors of the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium and the Total Learning Research Institute. Additional accomplishments include serving as the Interim Executive Director of Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation, President of Friends of Wheeling, Vice Regent of the Wheeling Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and officer or active member of several other organizations. Although Jeanne has not been a mathematics teacher for many years, she has an incredible understanding of the mathematics classroom as it has evolved and a continual appreciation and love for mathematics content.

Election Results
Written by Gary Seldomridge   

The following individuals were elected to serve on the Executive Committee for WVCTM for a two-year term:  Allan Meck, a teacher at Hampshire High School in Hampshire County will serve as Vice President for High School; Melanie Meck, a coach in Hampshire County Schools in Hampshire County will serve at Vice President for Elementary; Allison Miller, a teacher at Spencer Elementary School in Roane County will serve as Member-at-Large; Samantha Service, a teacher at Mountain Ridge Middle School in Berkeley County, will serve as Historian; Jeanne Finstein of Polyhedron Learning Media in Ohio County will serve as Community Relations Coordinator; and Roger Bennett, retired mathematics teachers and consultant, will serve as NCTM Representative.

Conference 2016

Dan MeyerDan MeyerPlease join us for the 2016 annual conference of the West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics. This year’s attendees are in for a very special treat as Dan Meyer will be presenting extended sessions at this year’s conference. Many of you may regularly read his interesting postings on his blog dy/dan which offers specific ways to implement teaching ideas that will change your practice. His 3-ACT method encourages students to conjecture, experiment, construct viable arguments, and offer thoughtful solutions to meaningful tasks, which ultimately makes the ideas and concepts learned stick. Meyer’s biography states that he has “taught high school math to students who didn’t like high school math.” A nationally known advocate for better mathematics instruction, he has shared his views and even some of his 3-ACT scenarios on CNN, Good Morning America, Everyday With Rachael Ray, and A resident of Mountain View, California, he earned his doctorate from Stanford University in math education and is the Chief Academic Officer at Desmos where he explores the future of math textbooks. He speaks internationally and was named one of Tech & Learning's 30 Leaders of the Future. His presentation is entitled: “Beyond Relevance & Real World: Stronger Strategies for Student Engagement.”

And as in the past the WVCTM annual conference will give you an opportunity to learn effective teaching practices to support students’ learning, to examine new and effective differentiated instruction methods, and to refine your assessment techniques. From speakers presenting a variety of sessions to vendors’ displays, the 2016 conference entitled “Growing through Math” is designed to create ways for our students to receive the best possible mathematics education.

The conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, March 11 & 12, at the Stonewall Resort, located off I-79 approximately 30 minutes from Clarksburg, WV. Reservations can be made either by calling 888-278-8150 or 304-269-7400. To receive the conference rate of $92 plus the $8 resort fee, please note as you reserve your room that you are attending the WVCTM Conference.

Other Recognition

Melanie Sheppard and Boyd HoltanMelanie Sheppard and Boyd HoltanJanice Hirst and Boyd HoltanJanice Hirst and Boyd HoltanAt the banquet of the annual conference, Diana Munza, Golden Holtan Grant chair, creatively shared the purpose of the Golden Holtans, the new awardees of these grants, and encouragement for future applicants.  Those in attendance answered questions via their cell phones on Kahoot which engaged everyone in the announcements.  Named for Dr. Boyd Holtan, a retired professor from West Virginia University, the Golden Holtans are grants for practicing classroom teachers for development of a particular project in their classrooms.  Checks in the amount of $400 for each of the projects were presented by Dr. Holtan.  This year’s Golden Holtan Grant recipients were Melanie Sheppard, a teacher at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School School in Greenbrier County, for her project entitled “Just LEGO and Do Da Math!” and Janice Hirst, a teacher at Kingwood Elementary School in Preston County, for her project entitled “Get Down, Get Dirty, Grow Math.”


Sheila Ruddle and Rachel BurkySheila Ruddle and Rachel BurkySheila Ruddle, a mathematics teacher from Pendleton County and current WVCTM president, presented the Walter Regula Mathematics Teacher-in-Training Grant to Rachel Burky, a student at West Virginia University majoring in secondary mathematics education. This award is given in honor of Walter Regula, Sheila’s father, who was a mathematics education professor at Marshall University and who also served as president of WVCTM. In her application Rachel made the following comments: “Math has always been my strongest subject. I enjoy the logical reasoning behind solving mathematical problems and deducing what the answer must be. My love for math is one of the reasons I decided I wanted to teach. All throughout school, my classmates have come to me with questions regarding our math assignments, and I have always enjoyed helping them answer their questions. I get a thrill out of not only solving a difficult math problem or proof, but also being able to explain it to someone else who is struggling. This satisfaction has led me to pursue a career as an educator in a field that I enjoy studying and learning more about every day.”


Heather Simmons, a kindergarten teacher at Moorefield Elementary School in Hardy County became the fifth recipient of the Steve Dellinger Scholarship. The Dellinger Scholarship is named for long-time WVCTM member and officer, Steve Dellinger. The purpose of the award is to encourage a new, elementary-level mathematics teacher by providing a id="mce_marker"00 gift certificate to purchase items at the NCTM booth at the conference.

Cathy Walker, Rick Kinder, and Cindy BurkeCathy Walker, Rick Kinder, and Cindy BurkeCathy Walker, Tonya Roberts, and Cindy BurkeCathy Walker, Tonya Roberts, and Cindy BurkeAlso recognized were the 2015 West Virginia Finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Rick Kinder from Gilmer County High School in Gilmer County, Tonya Roberts from Bluefield High School in Mercer County, and Sarah Snyder from Fairmont Senior High School in Marion County.

WVCTM Supports Common Core

The Executive Committee of WVCTM sent the following letter to the members of the legislature on March 2, 2015 in support of the Common Core State Standards:

“As members of the Executive Committee of the West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics, we ask that you consider the ramifications of a repeal of the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives. These standards were developed over several years by a large group of informed professionals with the goal of identifying the core knowledge and skills students need to master at each grade level in order to graduate career and/or college ready. They are based upon learning progressions that have been researched and provide the foundation for learning. Expert West Virginia educators, from kindergarten through college, have invested over five years in the study and implementation of these standards.
We realize that there is still more work to be done. Teachers continue to need ongoing professional development to understand content and to learn instructional strategies that will reach all West Virginia students. Our teachers are aggressively seeking out this information as shown by the fact that nearly three hundred teachers plan to attend our annual conference this month. As this is the first year of full implementation of these standards, it is too early to see the effects at all grade levels, however a repeal of the standards has the potential to destroy the gains that have been made in student growth and understanding.
As a group of professional mathematics educators, many of whom have more than thirty years of teaching experience, we implore you to make a decision that is in the best interest of the mathematics education of the students of West Virginia. We ask that you do not repeal the West Virginia Next Generation Mathematics Content Standards and Objectives. 
Endorsed by the Executive Committee of the West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics”

During the WVCTM Annual Conference, members were invited to a “Conversation on Common Core” to discuss the events that were literally unfolding in the WV State Legislature that very day. A panel of teachers from elementary through college shared ideas, rebutted misinformation, and answered questions from the membership. Those in attendance also shared their opinions and personal experiences with teaching the Common Core State Standards. Members were encouraged to express their views to House and Senate members. The final day of the WVCTM conference was also the closing day of the state legislative session. The House Bill (HB 2934) which would have repealed the Common Core State Standards in West Virginia was amended by the Senate to include a study of the standards rather than a repeal. The bill was then sent to a conference committee, but the report was never taken up in the House, so it died for lack of action.

WVCTM Salutes the 2015 Award Recipients

The most prestigious award given by WVCTM is the Distinguished Service Award, presented to the individual who has done exemplary work statewide in mathematics education. The award includes a Captain's Chair with an engraved plaque, hence it is often referred to as "The Chair" Award. The 2015 recipient is Holly Plunkett, currently a mathematics teacher at Tucker County High School. Although Holly's path traversed many states including Delaware, California, and Pennsylvania, she finally arrived in West Virginia and has proven herself not only to be a passionate mathematics teachers, but also a valued member of WVCTM. Holly agreed to assume the position of treasurer of the organization five years ago and readily embraced all that it encompassed. With a wealth of change occurring including a new venue for the annual conference and use of internet registration and payments, Holly rose to the challenge dedicating countless hours to WVCTM. A former State Mathematics Coordinator stated, "Holly Plunkett has been a leader among high school mathematics teachers in West Virginia for the entire eight years I served as mathematics coordinator. She led statewide professional development for hundreds of teachers over a period of five years during our Teacher Leadership Institutes. She presented on formative assessment strategies and content-specific sessions for county level professional development as well. She served on the review team for the Common Core State Standards and created curriculum units for both the 21st century standards and the Next Generation Standards. She served in an advisory capacity for the state math coordinator on a number of related topics including the integration of technology in the math classroom. Her influence and effects on teaching and learning of mathematics in West Virginia are everlasting." Holly has been recognized as a Presidental Awardee for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching, as a WVCTM Secondary Mathematics Teacher of the Year, and as a National Board Certified teacher. Few high school teachers are truly prepared to respond to those fleeting opportunities in a classroom that must be sensed and seized by the teacher. Holly is one of those teachers who can utilize those moments to capture the collective interest of the students and cause them to realize the beauty and power of mathematics.

WVCTM Mathematics Teachers of the Year are those who exemplify the highest standards of mathematics teaching and provide a role model for their colleagues.

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