Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why Students Develop an Aversion to Mathematics

We’ve all seen it happen to a child confronting long division, or a teenager grappling with geometry. We’ve even done it ourselves. The frustrated pencil drop, the defeated shoulder slump, and finally, the resigned proclamation: “I just can’t get this. I’m not a math person.”

In my 26 years of mathematics teaching I can't tell you all how many times I've heard parents confess their inability to do more than 6th grade math while also bemoaning the belief that they passed this inability to their child as well.

Please take a moment to read this short article...just click the Pocket link.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

EngageNY Grade 3 Module 4 #eurekamath #engageny

Here are the videos we made for Grade 3 Module 4. For the rest of our Eureka Math (EngageNY) resources, visit

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Math Enrichment: Going Deeper not Faster

About every month or so I will receive an email from a parent asking about enrichment in mathematics. Generally the parent describes the child as "bored" and in need of a challenge. Of course, they are asking what they should do or what the teacher should do.

Today I received another such email. Here is my reply. It is general enough that hopefully someone (parent or teacher or both) will find it useful.

Read on...

Hi there!

As a dad of three elementary school students myself, I truly understand and appreciate your concern. It is an expectation that teachers differentiate their instruction in order to meet the needs of ALL students. Clearly, some teachers do this better than others. 

Coaching teachers on the concept of differentiated instruction is a far bigger topic than I can fit in an email, but I will try to hit the main points:

For a particular lesson or topic, when a student has demonstrated understanding and is in need of enrichment, it is important that this enrichment activity SHOULD NOT merely look like extra work. "More of the same" is not what should happen. Instead, best practice calls for the teacher to provide the student with mathematics that is inherently engaging and does more than just give the student more "drill" work of simple concepts.

One online resource that does this phenomenally well is NRich.

Specifically, since you have a 4th grader, go here...
...and then click on any of the "Collections" or "Upper Primary Live Problems".

This is an AWESOME source of engaging problems that really give a high-flying student to opportunity to think like a mathematician. These are NOT your typical worksheet full of boring problems.

Here is a curated list of other excellent resources for the type of enrichment you are seeking for your son:

Another particularly excellent resource is Open Middle. ( )

Common Core was not designed to make it easier for students to go at their own pace. However, Common Core is designed to have fewer topics taught each year to allow students to dig deeper into the current grade level mathematics. Essentially "going deeper" with 4th grade content is preferable - and better for your son - than "going faster" with superficial 5th grade content.

Ideally, your son's teacher would print an engaging problem from one of these two sites and give it to your son to work on (possibly over the course of several days) whenever he needs the extra challenge. A good problem is one that takes more than just a couple of minutes to solve. It requires thinking, problem solving, struggle, etc.

My experience is students LOVE this sort of challenge and become more engaged with mathematics.

I hope this gets you started! Please feel free to email me with any additional questions or concerns you might have.


Email Tip: Archive...not Delete

To the three people who follow me and my blog, I apologize that this particular blog post is a bit off my normal math and education theme. I wanted to take a brief moment to share a little email strategy that has recently saved my butt, and I’d like to share it with you all.

Here it is: When you are done reading a particular email (no matter how trivial you think it might be), use the ARCHIVE button and never, never, never use the DELETE button!
(This is what it looks like in Google Gmail.)

For many of you (as it is for me), this is old news so it surprises me when people still tell me that they delete all their old emails.

Why archive rather than delete?

When you are done with an email or not interested in it in the first place, it makes sense to delete the email to get it out of the way. But here is why you should Archive rather than delete…

Deleting the email makes it disappear forever. In reality...emails that have been “trashed” sit in the trash for about 30 days before they finally go away forever.
Archiving, however, stores the email out of your site (just like deleting), except for the MAJOR difference that you have access to the archived emails forever...not just for 30 days. Where do the archived emails go? WHO CARES! (Actually, they go into your “All Mail” folder...or you can simply say they go into the cloud...whatever.)

The point is, by archiving all your unwanted email, you have them available to you even six months down the road when that email you thought was totally insignificant suddenly becomes amazingly important.

  • Is your boss denying having received the super important email you sent last Spring? can produce it from your archives and send it again.
  • Is a parent misremembering something she claims she emailed you at the start of the school year? can pull up the email to read it again to get the facts straight.
How do you find your old archived emails?

At the top of your email inbox is a search field. Google is the KING of searches...use this search field to type in a keyword (or two or three) to find that old email! Keywords include…

  • a person’s first and/or last name
  • an email address or just part of the email address
  • a subject: baseball, or vacation, or whatever
This is a general search field, so you might get too many results. You can narrow your search results by clicking on the down arrow and using the advanced search options.

Do you want to find every email you have sent to your boss?
Enter your email address in the “From” field and your boss’s email address in the “To” field. now have a list of every email you’ve sent to your boss. Simply reverse the addresses if you want to find every email your boss has sent you! Easy.

You can use the date pull down menu to refine your search to within a certain time period…

We could go into much more detail, but this is enough to get you going. Just remember…

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

EngageNY Grade 4 Module 4 #eurekamath #engageny

Here are the videos for Eureka Math (EngageNY) Grade 4 Module 4. For all our Eureka Math resources, please visit...

Eureka Math Grade 1 Module 3 #engageny #eurekamath

Here are all my videos for Eureka Math Grade 1 Module 3. For all of our resources for Eureka Math, please visit...

My Criteria for Fact-Based Apps

Disclaimer: I do not work for any edtech companies and I have no desire to work for any edtech companies. I have no skin in this game. I make absolutely no money off any apps and plan on keeping it that way.

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