February 2020, Volume 18

The Right Tool for the Right Job

Thinking about your definition of a tool and your expectations for using it as well as how students grow when using it will help you understand what it means to use an appropriate tool strategically. Mathematical tools aid students in accomplishing tasks and learning concepts. The tool is appropriate if it makes the concept more accessible to the student and provides clarity to the task. Strategic use plays a role by enhancing the tools' effectiveness. Any appropriate tool can be deemed ineffective without strategic use. A tool alone is neither appropriate nor strategic - it is the tools' use that is the determining factor.
Rich Learning with Dan Finkel | Part 4: Student Ownership

Problem of the Month

Secondary Problem of the Month

Imagine that we paint a 4 x 4 x 4 cube blue on every side. How many of the small cubes have 3 blue faces?
How many have 2 blue faces?
How many have 1 blue face?
How many have not been painted at all?

How many faces would be painted in a cube of any size?

What tools would be appropriate? How can students use those tools strategically?

Find more tasks at youcubed.org!

Elementary Problem of the Month

If there are nine people in a room and every person shakes hands exactly once with each of the other people, how many handshakes will there be?

What tools would be appropriate? How can you use the tool(s) strategically?

Watch this video of 4th-grade students using concrete models to solve the problem. How did your students solve this problem? Share it with me on Twitter @MrsBruning #INspirEDmath.

CCSS Hand Shake Problem

The Indiana Process Standards for Math

The process standards are at the heart of effective teaching. They are what grounds good instruction. This month, we focus on practice two.

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

4. Model with mathematics.

5. Use appropriate tools strategically.

6. Attend to precision.

7. Look for and make use of structure.

8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Resources to Support Students in Using Appropriate Tools Strategically

Opportunities for the Field

Indiana State Math Exam

Date: Saturday, April 18, 2020

Time: 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Exam Categories


Algebra I/Integrated Math I

Geometry/Integrated Math II

Algebra II/Integrated Math III


Please register your students for the contest for deserved recognition of their mathematical talents! Registration: February 29, 2020 - March 31, 2020. Registration is $7 per student. Visit http://www.ictm.onefireplace.org/mathcontest for more information.

University host-site partners will administer exams where local site awards are given. Top state finishers will be recognized at the Indiana Statehouse, June 5, 2020, at 1:00 p.m.

University Host Sites

Ball State University

Indiana State University

Indiana University East

Indiana University Purdue University Columbus

Indiana University Pursue University Indianapolis

Purdue University Fort Wayne

Purdue University West Lafayette

Saint Mary's College

University of Indianapolis

University of Southern Indiana

Nominate a Colleague!

Do you know a teacher who exemplifies commendable teaching in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science in grades K-6? Nominate them for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. This award encompasses a great professional development experience that brings many benefits. Teachers receive:

  • A certificate signed by the President of the United States;
  • A paid trip to Washinton, D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities;
  • A $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, and
  • An opportunity to build lasting partnerships with colleagues across the nation.

You may nominate through the following link: https://www.paemst.org/

New Experiences for Instructors of Dual Enrollment (NExIDE) Scholarship Program

The purpose of the NExIDE Scholarship program is to provide financial support and incentives to eligible Indiana public high school mathematics teachers who teach or plan to teach dual credit mathematics. Based on expectations from the Higher Learning Commission, college faculty are required to have completed a master’s degree in their discipline or to have completed a master’s degree in another field with 18 hours of graduate credit in their discipline. This requirement includes dual credit teachers who teach college classes in the high school setting.

Click here for more information and access to the application!

Save the Date

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Upcoming Chats:

February 19 - Leadership

February 26 - Whole Child Summit

March 4 - Exploring the Arts: How the Arts Impact Education

March 11 - School Improvement

Follow #INedchat to be a part of the discussion!

Twitter 101

News From Indiana's Commission for Higher Education

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is searching for volunteers to interview prospective recipients of the Next Generation Hoosier Educator Scholarship. This scholarship provides 200 applicants a $7,500 scholarship (renewable up to 4 times for up to $30,000) toward their education to become a Hoosier teacher. The interview day details are as follows:

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Ivy Tech Community College – Illinois Fall Creek Center

2535 North Capitol Ave

Indianapolis, IN 46204

From: 8:30 AM-3:30 PM ET

**Breakfast and lunch will be provided**

**7 PGP points will be awarded to all volunteers**

If you would like to participate please sign-up HERE and feel free to contact me with any questions.

We hope you will consider joining us for a fun day of interacting with Indiana’s future educators!

News From Assessment

The Office of Student Assessment has released a consolidated list of which standards in grades 6, 7, and 8 will be assessed during the non-calculator section of the ILEARN assessment. This designation is based on a determination by educators that calculator usage on items written to these standards would inhibit the ability to assess the focal aspect of the mathematical construct.


Beginning with the Winter 2019 Retest, the ISTEP+ assessment will be delivered in the same online system that is used for ILEARN and I AM. For online test sessions that allow calculator use, students may use the online Desmos graphing calculator or a handheld calculator. For paper test sessions that allow calculator use, students may use a handheld calculator.

TAs must oversee the use of the handheld calculator to ensure use only during appropriate test segments. Misuse of a calculator may result in a test invalidation for an assessment needed by a student to fulfill graduation requirements. Handheld calculators must meet the functionality requirements, as outlined in the full Calculator Policy:


Math Educator Spotlight

Scott Jaworski

Hello! My name is Scott Jaworski. I have spent just over seven years in the classroom as a high school math teacher, a middle school math department chair, and an instructional coach before accepting a position as a School Improvement Specialist at IDOE. I have spent time in a diverse set of schools across central Indiana, starting with Muncie Southside High School, then to Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate and Junior High, and finally Highland Middle School in Anderson. My time as a middle school math department chair and instructional coach has given me a rich experience not only in middle school math content but also a wide variety of instructional and assessment strategies that I am quick to share with anyone willing to sit down and chat about it! As a school improvement specialist, I service schools in a variety of ways. I primarily work with teachers and administrators on identifying opportunities for growth and providing professional development to help them reach their goals.

I am an active practitioner of a growth mindset and I firmly believe that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to with determination and grit. My goal each and every day is to be better than I was the day before. I aspire to one day be a school administrator and instill my passion and growth mindset in the students, staff, and community I serve.

I am also working on building a community of collaboration, and I look forward to connecting and working with more of the great educators and school leaders of this great state!

Mathematics Educator Spotlight Nomination

We are looking for rock star math educators who are innovative and inspiring; educators who lead, learn, and collaborate with humility and passion. If you know someone (or are that someone) click the button and nominate them (or yourself)!

Your IDOE Mathematics Team