Blog Archives

Athena High Math Department is Online

The Athena High School Math Department is online!  Click on the link below to see this amazing group of educators!

Trojan Pride!


Math PLC Reflects on the RtI Process

After reading Response to Intervention: The future for Secondary Schools by Canter, Klotz, and Cowan, (2008) the Athena High School Math Department’s professional learning community (PLC) discussed and reflected on the RtI process and the current reality of our school.

A couple most valuable points (MVPs) were important to the group.  First, parent support and involvement is critical.  So often parents are not engaged in the learning of their children for different reasons.  Parents should be invited to information sessions and included on advisory councils to provide input into the design of the RtI program.

A second MVP is that Athena should build our RtI model in a realistic time line.  Often times educators jump into something without addressing specifics.  If something sounds good, we try it for a year and abandon it the year after.  For the RtI process to have a successful start next year, we need to be talking about specifics as soon as possible.  Going forward as Athena High sets up the RtI process, the decision makers must encourage and seek out parent involvement, and begin planning soon.  Decision makers must also not rush something that is not ready.

Some members of our PLC are also reading Pyramid Response to Intervention by Buffum, Mattos, and Weber (2009).  This book continues to be a great resource to be used in our work on ensuring that all students learn at high levels.  This book describes the RtI model, PLCs, and how to respond when kids don’t learn.

Paddles are Back in the Classroom (but not as a punishment)

The Athena High School Math Department has purchased two class sets of KleenSlate Response Paddles!  These square paddles have a white board on one side and a graph patch on the other.  The possiblities are endless with this simple tool.  KleenSlate was created by a teacher who saw a need for quality classroom tools that would improve communication and education.  KleenSlate Response Paddles make class more fun and engaging and that will result in higher student achievement.  Even though the paddles just arrived in our building yesterday, Mrs. Benz has already used them in most of her classes (see pictures below).  Check out more information on the KleenSlate website.

If anyone wants to use these paddles to increase engagement in their classroom (high school or middle school), please let me know!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Queens of the Castle

Mrs. Stowell (Dodge) and Ms. Mullen are the queens of the Castle!  In searching for ways to engage kids in a Core Extension block, these teachers have ventured into the world of computer technology.  Athena Middle School students have the opportunity to receive an extra period of math, science, social studies, or English instruction through Core Extension.  Mrs. Stowell and Ms. Mullen have decided to dedicate part of this time for the Castle Learning computer software.

Stowell’s 6th grade students and Mullen’s 8th grade students came into the library where they immediately logged on to access Castle Learning.  Each teacher co-taught the login process with Mr. Haines, the middle school library media specialist.  Students were highly engaged and worked hard on finishing each problem.  Many other Athena teachers have had positive experiences with Castle Learing including Mr. Smith, Mrs. Schreiber, Mr. Titus, Mr. Ingerick, Mrs. O’Brien, Mrs. Salamone, Mrs. Cannito, Mrs. Dionisio, and Mrs. Gross.  Please let me know others!

According to, students are achieving higher levels on raw scores, growth scores and state testing.  Teachers find Castle Learning Online helpful for supporting instruction and assessing students throughout the school year, making them more effective educators.  Administrator access provides assessment reporting to assist in making decisions and meeting district, state and national objectives.  Parents can mentor and be engaged on a regular basis in their child’s education.

Practical Strategy: Use a variety of computer technology, such as Castle Learning, in your math instruction.  Seek out the help from a colleague or coach for implementing this in your classroom.

2011-2012 Goals and Objectives

The focus of the coaching efforts at Athena Middle and High School for the 2011-2012 school year will be on improving the mathematical achievement of both general and special education students, specifically in algebra.  Algebra is often considered a gateway for students from all backgrounds to greater opportunities by facilitating achievement in upper level mathematics courses, acceptance into college, and economic equity in the workforce (Ladson-Billings, 1997; Tate & Rousseau, 2002).  Unfortunately, algebra is also an area where many Athena students struggle.

As a math coach, I would like to improve the strength of quarter grades, state assessment scores, student engagement, and teacher professional development.  Some of my specific coaching objectives are as follows:

  1. Maximize the passing rate and the growth of algebraic understanding of all students in middle and high school math courses and state assessments
  2. Maximize the number of all students reaching mastery in middle and high school math courses and state assessments
  3. Early identification of struggling students
  4. Identifying strategies to target struggling students
  5. Using research-based best practices in mathematics instruction
  6. Integrating technology (SMART boards, clickers, aleks, wikis, calculators, etc.)
  7. Minimizing transition issues between middle and high school
  8. Increasing the effectiveness of our AIS programs

I am available in any way possible to help students and teachers to achieve their goals and maximize the effectiveness of the learning process at Athena.


References: Ladson-Billings, G. (1997). It doesn’t add up: African American students’ mathematics achievement. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 28(6), 697-708.

Tate, W., & Rousseau, C. (2002). Access and opportunity: The political and social context of mathematics education. In Handbook of international research in mathematics education, 271-300. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my blog “Have Your Pi and Eat It Too: Musings of a Math Coach.”  I will be writing about my experiences as an instructional math coach at Greece Athena Middle and High Schools in Rochester, New York (a picture of our building is shown below).  I have degrees and certificates from Niagara University, Nazareth College, and the University of Rochester in teaching mathematics and special education, school counseling, and leadership.  As you could probably tell, I love to learn.  I am currently conducting research at the UofR on the most effective ways to deliver math instruction to our lowest achieving students.  I wanted to create a blog to inform the Athena community (and others) of the great math instruction and learning experiences taking place in our building and to provide practical strategies to improve math instruction.  I hope everyone enjoys this blog.

Please contact me for any reason at

%d bloggers like this: