Monday, December 14, 2015

Eureka Math Resources

Are you looking for videos and other resources for Eureka Math (EngageNY)? Here is the resource we are providing our teachers in Pleasanton.

Eureka Math Resources

'via Blog this'

Eureka Math Grade 1 Module 2 Videos

For more Eureka Math resources, visit

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Using Creativity to Boost Young Children’s Mathematical Thinking

The students in Molly James’s kindergarten classroom were tasked with creating a mathematical art gallery. They had each drawn a number and then searched for two types objects they could use to compose a visual number sentence — such as two rulers plus three scissors to equal five objects.

Read more via Pocket

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned

Used with permission

The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time.

Read more via Pocket

Monday, November 2, 2015

Where Are The Cool Rap Songs About Math? Within Students

Math teachers assign all kinds of activities to apply academic skills to the real world. At Willard Middle School in Berkeley, California, Robert MacCarthy (Mr. Mac) has made creating rap songs part of the algebra curriculum to tap into the interests of the students.

Read more via Pocket

Sunday, November 1, 2015

5 Ways to "Remove the Walls" From Your Classroom

After the first day of school this year, I couldn't believe my luck! My seventh grade math and science students participated eagerly, worked well in groups, and followed our agreed-upon classroom procedures.

Read more via Pocket

Monday, October 26, 2015

How Schools Can Accommodate Their Introverted Students

One Way Stock
My daughter is quite the introvert. Not shy...just an introvert. The noise, movement, and constant stimulation of school drains her of her energy. My son, in the same class, however, loves every minute of it. The same atmosphere that drains my daughter of her energy gives my son his. This just speaks to the complexity of a teacher's job!

As a member of National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, I received the following summary of an article on introverts. Please read this summary and if you like it, consider joining NCSM. It is a wonderful organization!
Read on...

“Why do so many introverts look back on high school as the worst time of their lives – and why do we accept this reality as normal and ‘OK’?” ask Susan Cain (author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking) and Emily Klein (Montclair State University) in this article in Independent School. “Do professional educators have a full understanding of how tough a place an American school can be for introverts? Do we realize what an extroverted act it is, in the first place, to go to school all day long in a classroom full of people, with constant stimulation, precious few breaks, and almost no quiet time or alone time? Even for introverted kids who like school, it’s still an over-stimulating environment – not unlike an all-day cocktail party for an introverted adult (but without the alcohol).”

Researchers have found that between one-third and one-half of students are introverts, but most teachers think the “ideal” student is an extrovert. A number of introverts have achieved great success – among them Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, Steven Spielberg, Larry Page, Steve Wozniak, and J.K. Rowling – but their success may have been in spite of their schools. Cain and Klein are on a mission to reverse the historical bias of schools in favor of extroverts.

They start with lessons from brain research on temperament, which shows that “physiological differences profoundly influence temperament – and therefore the classroom experiences of students.” Introverts differ from extroverts in the way their dopamine-based reward network reacts to external rewards – it’s less activated. Social situations that are energizing for extroverts are exhausting and “unrewarding” for introverts, who need to be alone to recharge their batteries after stimulating interpersonal interactions.

“And while extroverts and introverts are equally warm and loving (dispelling the myth that introverts are somehow antisocial), extroverts are more likely to respond to the reward value of a social situation,” say Cain and Klein. “As a consequence, they tend to seek positive social attention.” School is tailor-made for them: “From grading students for participation (almost exclusively defined as raising one’s hand and speaking, rather than engaging quietly with the material), to an emphasis on cooperative learning and group discussion, to subtle and informal but powerful incentives for being well liked and socially active, schools reward outgoing students and penalize quiet ones.”

Drawing on a Connecticut school’s lively interchange among students and faculty on this topic, Cain and Klein suggest several ways for schools to right the imbalance:

  • Rethink grading for participation. The point of grades is to accurately assess students’ learning, not how much they talk in class. “We encourage teachers to separate grades for learning from grades for participation,” say Cain and Klein. “Why not give one grade for mastery of the material and a separate grade for character?” The second grade would measure meaningful intellectual contributions, empathy, courage, persistence, listening, and respect for others.
  • Change classroom dynamics. Teachers should think about orchestrating classroom engagement, defined as how absorbed students are in a variety of tasks. Instead of whole-group discussions, this might involve “think, pair, share” with students reflecting, writing, and then discussing with one other classmate. This is also helpful for extroverts, who benefit from slowing down their thinking and putting a filter between their brains and their mouths. The best classroom structures push both introverts and extroverts out of their comfort zones. Another approach is posting several quotes around the classroom and asking students to engage in a “silent dialogue” about them, rotating from sheet to sheet “conversing” with classmates through their written comments and questions.
  • Connect with introverted students. “I was more intentional to make warm eye contact with them,” says one of the Connecticut teachers, “smiles that let them know that I know they are with me, even if they are not sharing as much.”
  • Wait five or ten seconds before calling on students. This gives all students more time to think and shy students a chance to gather their courage.
  • Use social media in the classroom. Quiet students may have an easier time sharing their thoughts in an online response or blog, which will make them more confident in all-class discussions.
  • Coach introverted students. Cain and Klein encourage teachers to talk individually with shy students to prep them for a comment their might make in class or a question they might think about answering. Parents can also be coached on how to support their introverted children.
  • Create groups for students who are anxious about public speaking. “In a class swirling with social and, in the later grades, sexual politics, practicing public speaking can be so frightening that it becomes counterproductive,” say Cain and Klein. “Desensitizing the fear in small, supportive settings is crucial for students who are afraid of the spotlight.”
  • Rethink recess. “The notion that all students should restore themselves, each and every day, by running out into a big noisy yard is very limiting, and frankly unimaginative,” say the authors. Students should have the option to play board games or chill by themselves.
  • Change cafeteria tables. Socializing in a noisy group of 10-12 kids at conventional lunchroom tables is not an introvert’s cup of tea – they’re much more comfortable chatting with two or three peers at a small, round table.
  • Encourage deliberate practice. Many students do their best work taking on challenging tasks alone.
  • Some quiet, please! Extroverts perform better academically in a lively environment while introverts do better when it’s quiet, so there is no one-size-fits-all formula for schools. All the same, accommodations must be made, say Cain and Klein: “In order to flourish, quiet students need to have the ability, for at least part of the day, to have some control over the amount of stimulation that is right for them to optimally learn.”

“Engaging the Quiet Kids: Brain Science and the Teaching of Introverts” by Susan Cain and Emily Klein in Independent School, Fall 2015 (Vol. 75, #1, p. 64-70), no e-link available; Klein can be reached

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Using the BOX Method With Online Assessments

With the current emphasis on online assessments, how to students show their work and organize their work? How can the teacher review the test the day after? What can teachers use to show parents the strengths and weaknesses of their child?

Often when students are testing online, I observe them hastily take out scratch paper, do their work haphazardly all over the paper, and then unceremoniously throw the paper in the trash as they leave the classroom.

This can't be good for mathematics! Nor does it help the teacher review the test with the class afterwards. Plus, the teacher has no easy way to share with parents the specific mistakes their child might be making. At best, I see teachers printing a sterile report detailing which questions the student solved right or wrong.


Many years ago a colleague shared with me a great scaffolding idea to help students use their "scratch" paper effectively and to organize their work. Depending on the amount of paper space needed for each problem, I tell students to divide their paper into Box 4 or Box 6.

Box 4: Students fold their paper in half horizontally, and then in half again vertically, resulting in the paper divided into quarters. Students then number each quarter front and back, resulting in space for 8 problems on one sheet of paper.

Obviously, students don't HAVE to fold the paper. Instead they can simply draw lines on their paper indicating the quarters.

Box 6 is fun to use because it provides enough work space for most math and I LOVE watching the students try to divide the paper into thirds. (Cutting into thirds in itself is a great skill for students to learn.) 
What are the benefits of using the BOX Method?
  • Students are allowed to solve only one problem per section! This means students quit trying to cram the work for 20 problems on one side of the page.
  • It is very easy for the teacher to spot check a particular problem, since all 35 students will have their work located in the same spot. For example, the work for Question 6 will be in the lower right corner of every student's page.
  • Box Method discourages students from treating their paper like "scratch" work. As a result, students do their work more carefully.
  • Teachers can send the Box home for parents to look at their child's work.

When your students are taking an online math assessment, please consider having your students show (and organize) their work using the BOX Method.

Do you have a different way for students to show their work during online assessments? SHARE!

More stuff on homework

By Randen Pederson from Superior (Study of Study) [CC BY 2.0]
Maybe it is because I now have three children of my own in elementary school who suffer a daily barrage of homework assignments, but after 26 years as a teacher I have finally developed a deep, visceral hatred of homework.

I've long suspected that it wasn't doing the things I thought it was doing when I assigned it. I thought homework was an opportunity to practice skills, develop organizational skills and responsibility. But now, I am pretty darned sure that for the most part homework - at least the kind that is most often assigned - does nothing other than create family strife and a profound disdain for school and learning.

Yes...students need to practice skills. Yes...students need to develop strong organizational skills. Yes...students need to learn responsibility.

But, let's figure out a way to do these things at school rather than outsourcing this to the parents at home. By outsourcing the development of practice, organization, and responsibility to the home front, the educational establishment unwittingly contributes to the widening of the achievement/opportunity gap.

Additionally, there is question as to whether math homework is even beneficial regardless of the home and parent situation.

I'm wondering if we can begin a conversation centered around what (if any) math homework should be assigned. Can we rethink 100 years of tradition? Just thinking.

Here are  just a few articles that have come through my inbox recently. I thought I'd share them with you!

Don’t help with homework! Talk about math instead.

A couple of interesting pieces of research have been published recently involving parents, children, and math. There’s good news and bad news. But the best news is that the good outweighs the bad. The short version.

Read more via Pocket

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why Kids Take On Adults’ Math Anxiety

We know a lot about how relationships can enhance learning. We learn better when we “apprentice” ourselves to someone more knowledgeable, for example; when we ourselves teach others; and when we discuss and debate with our peers. But there are also times when relationships suppress learning.

Read more via Pocket

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What does Growth Mindset look like?

It's one thing for a teacher to say, "Sure, I believe in growth mindset", but unless that statement of belief is accompanied by actual teaching practices that encourage growth mindset, the teacher's words are essentially meaningless.

In other words, when it comes to "Growth versus Fixed Mindset", the way I run my classroom is far more important than what I profess.

So, what does a Growth Mindset classroom look like? Sound like? Take 6 minutes to watch this wonderful 2nd grade class.

In watching this video, a growth mindset classroom has some important characteristics:

  • A focus on process rather than on product. For example, the teacher celebrated a group of students for their hard work, perseverance, and their thinking even though the group hardly solved any problems at all.
  • Lots and lots of wait time. If we want students to "grow their brains", then we need to give students plenty of time to think! Waiting has got to be the hardest thing for me to do. I want to swoop in a help...but that would only foster the fixed mindset.
  • Productive conversations. Allow students to work collaboratively, discussing their ideas and challenges. Listening to each other. By allowing students to take an active part in their own learning, we foster growth mindset.
  • Allow lessons to stretch beyond a tidy one-period timeframe. As students struggle and persevere, it may be necessary for the teacher to resist the urge to tell students what they should have learned in the lesson. Instead, growth mindset is encouraged when the teacher wraps up the day's lesson by saying "Well, we are out of time. Some groups haven't quite gotten it yet, but we'll all have more time tomorrow to keep plugging away."
  • Deliberately conduct growth mindset conversations. Ask students questions designed to get students thinking metacognitively about their own growth mindset. How did students feel as they struggled? What did they do when they got stuck? What were some challenges during the lesson? etc. 
What other characteristics did you see in the classroom?
How can you change your classroom culture to REALLY foster a growth mindset in your students?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Homework Battles: When Parent Help Negatively Affects Students

Joys of Homework by Bart

Homework has become as much work for parents as it is for kids in many families when parents slog through assignments together with their kids every night. They see it as part of their parental duty to help their children.

Read more via Pocket

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Please Give 2-year Olds Homework!

Bathroom Reading by Jay Ryness
Whoa...did the title scare you enough to click whatever link got you here? Hang was not merely click-bait to get you here to bump up my Google Ads account. Read on...

What if we had a magic tool that could do all of the following:

  • improve the ability for kindergarteners to self-regulate?
  • reduce anxious behavior and temper tantrums?
  • increase the odds of getting a college education?
  • increase the chance of having a 401K?
  • improve the likelihood of owning a home?

Sound too good to be true? NOPE! The magic tool is simply to increase the vocabulary of our toddlers.

While I am certain to be doing a little reductionist thinking, indulge me a little bit.

Studies have shown that toddlers with bigger vocabularies are better prepared for kindergarten later. We also know that "at kindergarten entry, those who had bigger vocabularies at an early age had higher reading and mathematics achievement and fewer problem behaviors like being disruptive, having temper tantrums or being physically aggressive." In turn, students with higher reading and mathematics achievement at kindergarten tend to continue experiencing academic success in ensuing school years. The result, naturally, is college education, a 401K, and owning a home.

So, my thinking looks like this...
The big question...What causes a strong toddler vocabulary? What goes in the box with all the question marks? Because that is the secret sauce to get the whole ball rolling.

Here are some simple things to do at home (this is the homework part):

  • talk to your toddler
  • ask open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions
  • talk out loud in your child's presence about what you see and notice
  • watch what your toddler is doing and narrate it for them
  • read, read, read, and then read some more to them

The magic tool? Read and talk with your child. The more, the better!

Start reading with your child. Start talking with your child. Watch the magic do its work.

For more on this, please check out American Radioworks' podcast on the miracle of The Perry Preschool Project, the inspiration for Head Start.
(If you don't see the above embedded podcast player, you may need to tell your browser to show it. For Chrome, that means clicking on the silver shield in your browser search bar.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

YouCubed's Week of Inspirational Math

As a math teacher for 25 years, I can't tell you how many times a parent has proudly announced to me they can't do math. In fact, innumeracy seems to be a badge of honor for some folks. During that same time, never once have I heard an adult brag that they can't read.

How is this the case?

Here's a quick thought of mine: In America mathematical aptitude is seen as a result of good genetics rather than from hard work. While we Americans take it for granted that becoming a lawyer or a brain surgeon or a civil engineer is the result of years of hard work, mathematics is merely a gift one is born with. It's as if no amount of hard work can overcome the genetics one is born with.

We never hear a teacher or parent say of a student, "He just doesn't have the right genes to learn how to read. Oh well." For a struggling reader, we spare no expense in helping that student learn how to read. The same cannot be said for mathematics.

Each year Back-to-School Night, I tell parents that I believe ALL students can learn math. It is merely a matter of working hard (both me and the student), finding the right instructional method to match the student's needs, and having enough time. Given those three ingredients, ALL students can learn mathematics. Genetics be darned. We now call this Growth Mindset...thanks Carol Dweck!

Jo Boaler - a colleague of Dweck's and an amazing educator herself - says it this way on her youcubed site:
"There is a really damaging myth that pervades the US/UK and other countries – the idea that some people are born with a “math brain” and some are not. This has been resoundingly disproved by research but many students and parents believe this. It is really important to communicate “growth mindset” messages to students. Help them know that everyone is a math person and that the latest research is telling us that students can reach any levels in math because of the incredible plasticity of the brain."

How does a teacher accomplish this? Boaler makes it easy by providing a full one-week curriculum called the "Week of Inspirational Math". It is a project of the Stanford Graduate School of Education. They have developed a Week of Inspirational Math, designed for teachers to use the first week of school to inspire positive math mindsets in their students. Each lesson is aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Standards for Mathematical Practice, can be adapted for several grade levels, and includes a video and surveys for teachers, students, and parents. Teachers can also discuss each lesson with each other on a discussion board.

If you haven't already done so, please consider ways to create a classroom atmosphere that oozes of Mathematical Growth Mindset. What does that look like? Sound like? What would students in this kind of classroom say?

Start with a Week of Inspirational Math!

Please tell me below how it goes....

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kids have three times too much homework, study finds; what's the cost?

(CNN)Nothing quite stresses out students and parents about the beginning of the school year as the return to homework, which for many households means nightly battles centered around completing after-school assignments. Now a new study may help explain some of that stress.

Read more via Pocket

Friday, July 24, 2015

Should Math Be Taught In Schools?

How is it that this video has been around for 4 years and I am only now seeing it? Clearly...the world is a big place and I am so, so tiny.

Thank you to LaRene for sharing this with me!

Full confession: It took me just a little too long to realize it was satire.

How to Bring Playfulness to High School Students

It’s easy to focus on academics and college transcripts when children become tweens and teens, but retaining the agency and creativity inherent in play is crucial for them, too.

Read more via Pocket

Monday, July 20, 2015

How to Create an Online Whiteboard Space

Sketchlot is a free collaborative whiteboard service that works on any device that will work on a Chromebook, iPad, Android tablet, or any computer connected to the web. Sketchlot is designed for teacher and student use.

Read more via Pocket

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Teacher HW

Please take a picture of a square and Tweet it to #DuaneHW2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

How Writing Down Specific Goals Can Empower Struggling Students

Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream? Heavy questions. One researcher believes that writing down the answers can be decisive for students.

Read more via Pocket

A blog about the New York Yankeese

NOTE: This page is a fake page I made while creating this tutorial video on how to embed a Twitter feed into a Blogger post.

Here is where I'd write stuff about the Yankees.



Here is where I want the feed to go...

Embedding Twitter Feed into Blogger Post

Here is how you can embed a Twitter hashtag feed into a blog post on Blogger post.

Step 1: Create a Twitter Widget and copy the code. In this example, I've saved a search for #Foodiechats.

Step 2: Create new Blogger Post

Step 3: Switch to HTML
Step 4: Paste in Twitter Widget code (from Step 1) while in HTML Mode.
<a class="twitter-timeline" href="" data-widget-id="619636680459300864">#Foodiechats Tweets</a> <script>!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");</script>

Step 5: Switch back to Compose Mode and continue editing post.

Here is what it will look like...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


You gotta go where they are. Apparently, I need to use Pinterest in addition to all the other places I post. Here is my first attempt...

We'll see if it works.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Eureka Math & EngageNY in Spanish

This year (2014-2015), my school district went through the math adoption process. During the adoption, it became clear that we had to make a decision:
1. Adopt a cruddy math curriculum, but at least it has a Spanish translation
2. Adopt an excellent math curriculum that does not yet have a Spanish translation

We chose Option 2 because we believed that during the 8-year adoption cycle the lack of a Spanish translation would eventually be rectified. While Option 1 offered little hope that the cruddy math curriculum could ever be fixed.

As a result, we selected Eureka Math and our decision has paid off!

As awesome a curriculum as Eureka Math (aka EngageNY) might be, a small, but significant drawback is its lack of a Spanish translation. Well, this problem is slowly getting fixed.

A number of school districts have taken the initiative to translate all or some of Eureka Math (EngageNY) into Spanish. As I come across these wonderful school districts, I'm organizing their translations here. It is not as smooth and professional looking as a big-box publisher could do, but at least it is a start and least our students will be experiencing a great math program (albeit in English for the time being).

Chula Vista Elementary School District, Port Chester Public Schools, and Salem-Keizer Public Schools are doing a great job of gradually translating everything. I'm wondering if the three of them would do better by working TOGETHER rather than in parallel.

Regardless, in the meantime we all benefit from their awesome work!

Please spread the word.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Number Talks with buddies

For the past two years I have been preaching Number Talks as the gateway drug to Common Core. I am absolutely certain that if I can get 85% of my teachers regularly using Number Talks, then our students will experience a growth in math achievement this district can only dream about.

Inherent in a number talk is the dynamic that the teacher is sharing some of her leadership with her students when the students share their methods with one another. As a result, number talks allow students to persevere in mentally solving the problem (SMP 1) and then explain their method and critique the methods shared by other students (SMP3).

Some of my student teachers at the university, familiar with number talks, have shared their excitement about lessons they were teaching when a student asks a clarifying question and suddenly a number talk breaks out.

Sometimes more learning happens during a spontaneous number talk than in the actual lesson!

A 1st grade teacher just shared with me a new format for a Number Talk that she accidentally invented. Here is her email...
Just wanted to share with you that my class got together with their buddy class (5th grade) on Wednesday. I decided to do a few number talks with them. It was sort of a last minute activity, BUT, with that being said, it turned out great! The little buddies and big buddies had a great time discussing the math problems. It was a great listening/speaking activity as well. The little ones would explain to the big ones how they solved it, etc., and then vice versa. The big ones would also help the little ones if needed. It was a good activity all around.
What a great idea: Conduct many mini-number talks between an older student and a younger student.

Give it a try and let me know what happens! Here is my Number Talks website:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Parent's Guide to Eureka Math

So, as if being a parent isn’t traumatic enough, you now have to help your child navigate the morass that is Common Core Mathematics. Number disks, number bonds, arrow method, decomposition, tape diagrams - what ever happened to simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division?

Considering the international comparisons of math achievement of our students, this is how U.S. students view the different branches of arithmetic...

During my time as a mathematics instructional coach, I have learned one very important lesson: As the nation transitions to the Common Core math standards (and its related shift in instructional practices), it is essential that we support the parents at home.

The students? They will roll with whatever we teach them. They will be just fine.

The teachers? Yes...they are going through a season of panic, but at least they are receiving professional development to get them up to speed.

It is the parents who are left out in the cold! They are the ones who are being asked to support their children at home with mathematics that they themselves did not experience as students. Parents need support!

What is Common Core?
The Common Core State Standards-Math (CCSS-M) is essentially a list detailing which math skills and concepts are taught at each grade level. Including the District of Columbia, 44 states have formally adopted the Common Core math standards. Some of the remaining states, while not formally adopting CCSS-M, are using their own list of standards that are remarkably similar to the Common Core standards. Politics...ugh.

The benefit of having such a consensus in standards across states is that for the first time in the history of the United States, we have the same expectations for what a student should learn regardless of their home address. A 4th grader in Massachusetts will learn the same high-quality math as a 4th grader in Mississippi, Montana, or Modesto. This is very, very powerful in our highly mobile society.

Why does math have to look different?
To understand why we need to teach math differently, let’s first take a brief look at our track record for math achievement in the United States. It is not a pretty picture. In international comparisons of math achievement of 4th and 8th graders, the U.S. average math score is typically below average or average (at best). We see this in the PISA and the TIMSS studies.

With respect to college readiness, we see similarly woeful results. Even at the most highly selective colleges and universities, students are entering college needing to take remedial math classes.

In response to recognizing that our math achievement track record leaves a lot to be desired, we need to change not only what we teach, but HOW we teach. This means there will be a much greater emphasis on teaching for understanding, rather than just teaching. Teaching for understanding looks very different from the “old” way of teaching in which the teacher showed the class how to solve a problem and then the students spent the rest of the period trying to mimic the teacher’s work. Here are a couple of nice videos that explain the difference between teaching and teaching for understanding:

Video 1 (Vox)

Video 2 (Dr. Raj Shah)

How can you support your child at home?
In order to teach for understanding, the teacher must begin with the presupposition that the student indeed can learn the mathematics being taught. Furthermore, parents and teachers alike must subscribe to the notion that mathematical achievement is a function of the students’ effort rather than the innate ability. In a cross-cultural study comparing parental beliefs about genetic influences on math achievement, American parents are far more likely to attribute math achievement to “good genes”, while Japanese parents believe that effort plays a key role in determining the level of a child’s math achievement.

Dr. Carol Dweck is a national leader on “fixed mindset” versus “growth mindset”. The fixed mindset is the most prevalent mindset in the U.S. and it is the belief that your ability to achieve is based on your inherent nature. The growth mindset is the belief that achievement is a matter of effort, not natural ability. How a parent responds to a student at home during homework time influences whether the child develops a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Here is a video on Praise versus Effort.

Video (Trevor Ragan)

During homework time, make sure you do the following:
  • Provide a quiet place to do homework
  • Praise your child’s effort not speed
  • When your child gets stuck on a problem encourage the use of Google and YouTube to find help on the Internet
  • Go ahead and share your method (the old way). Ignore your child’s complaint, “That isn’t the way my teacher did it at school!” 
  • No tears! (You or your child.)

What if you don’t understand the math?

There are tons of online resources available to you and your child during homework.
This is where we will post all the Eureka Math files, documents, and other information that is specifically related to Pleasanton Unified School District.

YouTube videos made by our K-5 Mathematics Instructional Coach, Duane Habecker. Videos at
A constantly updated resource with all the latest information about mathematics in Pleasanton Unified School District.
“Tip sheets” are guides designed to provide you with module-by-module guidance for supporting your child’s study of math. Do you know how to make a number bond or use a rekenrek? Need a refresher on how to use a number line? Struggling to remember what a decimal fraction is? Don’t worry – they’ve covered that and much more.

Ultimately, if you and your child cannot figure out how to do the mathematics, just write a note to your child’s teacher. In your note, explain what you and your child tried to do to get over the hump. Ask the teacher to help your child at his/her earliest convenience. (The teacher was probably going to do this anyway.)

How a child perceives mathematics is largely determined by how a parent responds at home during homework. Keep an open mind. Ask your child what she does or does not understand. Exhibit a genuine interest in the math. And be willing to learn right along with your child.

Would you like the slideshow for this message? Click here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Eleven Criteria for an Effective Prekindergarten Program

So I received the following article in my inbox today. I read it with great anticipation, hoping to read lots and lots about PLAY.

Hardly anything. It doesn't explicitly say, "Don't play", but it sure as heck wasn't a focal point either.

Read it and let me know what you think.

Here it is....

“Very young children learn differently even from children in primary grades,” say Christopher Brown (University of Texas/Austin) and Brian Mowry (Austin Independent School District) in this Kappan article. They suggest Rigorous DAP, an acronym for a set of principles to guide a developmentally appropriate early-childhood program that will prepare students for K-12 success:

Reaching all children – The key is providing activities that will pique children’s interest and increase their participation in academic content. For example, a prekindergarten teacher created a wilderness habitat in her classroom with families of stuffed bears, raccoons, squirrels, robins, and bats (each introduced on a separate day) and integrated all this with readalouds from books and scientific facts.
Integrating content – Teachers need to blend literacy, math, science, and other areas and take full advantage of the interconnectedness of learning. For example, a student tells how a raccoon had ravaged his family’s campsite, leading the class to a discussion of nocturnal animals.
Growing as a community – Circle times are opportunities to draw on students’ prior knowledge and get them sharing insights and questions.
Offering choices – Students should have the chance to shape part of their daily experience as they move among whole-group, small-group, center-based, child-initiated, play-based, indoor and outdoor, and loud and quiet learning experiences.
Revisiting new content – Not all students will understand and remember the first time around, so spiraling the curriculum is essential.
Offering challenges – It’s sometimes helpful to stretch content, vocabulary, and skills to what students will learn in later grades – for example, a teacher asked about the differences between what robins, squirrels, raccoons, and humans need to live.
Understanding each learner – Effective teachers learn about their students in multiple ways – being available to parents at the beginning and end of each day, making home visits, connecting with children’s diverse personal, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, sending home a weekly newsletter, and getting parents’ responses to content-specific questions.
Seeing the whole child – Growth in one domain – physical, conceptual, emotional, and social – depends on and influences growth in others.
Differentiating instruction – Classroom activities should have built-in variability so students can engage in different ways and the teacher can adjust support depending on how students are doing.
Assessing constantly – This includes anecdotal records, work samples, digital photographs, and videos going into portfolios to give the teacher a sense of how students are progressing and how instruction needs to be tweaked.
Pushing forward – Teachers maximize each child’s learning through all of the above, keeping in mind the end goals of the content that needs to be learned, a classroom that’s a great place to be, and students growing and being successful in all areas.

“Close Early Learning Gaps with Rigorous DAP” by Christopher Brown and Brian Mowry in Phi Delta Kappan, April 2015 (Vol. 96, #7, p. 53-57),; Brown can be reached at

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Should We Stop Making Kids Memorize Times Tables?

Stanford University’s Jo Boaler says teachers and parents should stop using math flash cards, stop drilling kids in addition and multiplication and especially stop forcing students to do calculations quickly under time pressure.

Read more via Pocket

The impact of learning space design on student outcomes

A very interesting research report has come out of the University of Salford, UK, that reveals the impact of learning space design on student outcomes. This won’t come as a shock to any teacher but the physical characteristics that had the most impact might.

Teachers needs to be aware that all the hard work they spend making their room engaging, pretty, and kid-friendly may actually undermine their effectiveness. 

Please take a moment to read this report.

Read more via Pocket

Friday, April 10, 2015

Learn math without fear, Stanford expert says

Stanford Professor Jo Boaler finds that children who excel in math learn to develop "number sense," which is much different from the memorization that is often stressed in school.

Students who attempt to blindly memorize math fact tend to be the lowest achieving math students. While students utilizing number sense flexibility tend to be the highest achieving math students.

The takeaway? Teach conceptually. Teach number sense. Teach numerical flexibility.

Do NOT teach blind memorization.

Students will still end up memorizing their facts in due time!

Read more via Pocket

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Math Anxiety – Is Math Teaching in Conflict with Math Learning?

What is it about math that causes such pain and anxiety, turmoil and fighting, tears and anger? Is it math or is it the method that we employ to teach math to our children? Personally, I don’t think it is math. People have been learning math for hundreds of year.

Read more via Pocket

Monday, March 30, 2015

Classes should do hands-on exercises before reading and video, Stanford researchers say

The researchers drew on data gathered from students using the BrainExplorer, a tabletop tool that simulates how the human brain processes visual images.

Read more via Pocket