Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Math is for everyone!


Math is for Everyone!


I saw this cartoon and thought of my students in my math class. The students in my class are always complaining that math is the hardest subject and you have to have a mathematical mind to even do the questions in the course. So I asked them why they feel like it is so difficult and there simple explanation was "it's never the same sir! There are so many question to know." Then it hit me they were trying to memorize what to do without fully understanding the why, we do what we are doing and fully understanding the concept that was being taught. So from that point on I started to focus on the why, not skipping any simple steps in solving for equations.  Getting my students to develop steps for understanding how to go about solving anything from a linear system to a word problem within the course.  I wanted them to learn to think about what they learned and apply the knowledge that they got in class.  I wanted them to know anyone could do math if they work hard and tried their best. I didn't want them to think that it was a clever scheme meant to trick them. So after I was done my lessons I would give the students a question based on that days class and have them answer it. I would not just have them calculate the question but I had them write out the steps they took in words to solve it.  Then I had them get into groups of two and all they could do was read the steps to the other person to see if that other person understood what they did. This forced them to think about what they were doing rather then just doing it. When they were in those small groups they really had to communicate their thought process to each other.  I repeated this with my class for a week. At the end of the week I found that they were understanding the why better then they did at the beginning of the week. Has anyone else ever tried a similar method?  How well did it work for you?

Frustration in Math

In math, I feel like everyone was has been so overwhelmed where there is a mix of frustration, anger, confusion, sadness and disappointment during the learning or practice of a math concept.  Now as a future teacher and a current tutor, I can see it in my students' faces sometimes and it is hard being on the other side of the knowledge.

Image result for having trouble in math is like sweating in basketball

I saw this quote the other month on Twitter and it made me smile.  I feel like in school, math is looked upon more of a nerdy thing and "not cool".  Because of this, I feel like it adds to the overwhelming emotions at a tough point in math.  I feel like in sports, it is more known in social media that struggling is part of the grind and you will get better because of this.  It is funny how this does not translate to the struggle in math (or any other subjects).

This brings me back to the quote I saw above.  I think that math is very cool, is needed in many facets in life and is fun.  I feel like the discomfort can push students away but if they are shown this quote, know the importance of math and that they understand real life applications of math, they will be more positive towards the struggle. This could definitely benefit students and although is not as easy as what I wrote above, I believe that it is a strategy worth exploring.

I know it will be a future poster in my class.

Any thoughts on this?

Maksym Cord

The Amazingness of Calculus

This is a PSA,

I think that calculus should get much more credit on being a really cool course.  Maybe my teachers did try to tell us this, maybe not but I think something more should be done to show this.

When learning about calculus through a book, it blew my mind.  This was especially so because I was adept at advanced functions and learned to work with linear equations and figuring them out and how to use them in real life applications.

So I was reviewing the book and it soon told me that linear functions used methods to find out information on straight lines.  That's awesome you say but wait theres more!  Then it went on to say that straight line relationships are quite unrealistic in life and that in real life, the lines are more curved (like the one below).

Image result for calculus graph

So what?  Well what blew my mind is that somehow, people figured out how to solve for information on curved graphs to then solve for real life situations.  Further, the creativity needed to understand that as you zoom in enough on these curved lines, they will end up as straight lines which will then let you solve like a linear equation.  They then figured out methods to get the sum of these calculations to use to then solve a whole curved line. WOW!

Maybe I should get more hobbies but people need to see this!

I hope to plan out a way to communicate my enthusiasm as a senior math teacher.

Maksym Cord

The Harder he Material, The Better I Do?

Hey all,

Image result for 1=2

I wanted to tell you about my experience with senior math courses throughout high school.

I remember before I would change schools (elementary to middle, middle to high, high to university), teachers would make a point to try and get you line by saying that "oh the teacher won't chase after you for marks and they will just fail you."  To me that worried me but I soon found out that teachers definitely do chase you for marks (whether elementary, middle or high school) (though not as much).  This sort of gave me a relaxed outlook on really trying in school.

In grade 11 I heard this speech again but for some reason, I really believed it this time.  I believe this was due to my parent and family telling me the same sort of thing.  When this happened, I started really focusing and trying in school.  At the same time, I entered into "Advanced Functions" which was notorious in the school for being hard.  For whatever reason the mix of effects from these two things made me really try especially hard in math class.  I think that the complicated looking symbols and equations helped this aswell.

I begun really paying attention and doing my homework everyday.  This brought my typical 70-75% average every year in math to the highest in the class at 96%.  This showed me how powerful homework and paying attention was and I learned through this that math was fun and was just basically puzzles.

This then lead me to enjoy the math and made me want to teach others how fun it could be.  This then lead me to here, aiming to become a high school math teacher.
Image result for 1=2
I hope I am able to instill this outlook for my future students.

Thanks for reading, does anyone have any ideas on how to do this?

Maksym Cord

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Why do I need to learn math?

Why do I Need To Learn 


I have been a secondary school teacher, teaching for eighteen years, I recently started teaching math and have fully learned to appreciate it as well as learned to enjoy it!  

My students always ask the same question  "Sir why do we need to do this? Or what is the point of even learning math?" Just to let you know its more then telling them there will be a test on it in the future. So when I begin teaching a math course I always show this YouTube video I found that explains why in fact you should be learning math. It show students that math is everywhere and that taking math opens a lot of doors in the future for careers.  It also tells them that math is for everyone if you hang in there the reward of solving a problem and understanding is amazing.  

I know as math teachers we need to teach curriculum but I think it is important to inspire our students to let them know why they are learning it. To motivate them to want to learn, to love learning.  To let them know it is a challenge and that we grow from making mistakes and learn from them! 

Let them see you love what you do, share your passion! 

This video is great for any high school math class as an introduction to your course. Here is the link to the video I was talking about:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Using Math Talks to Improve Metacognition and Communication in the Math Classroom

This will be an anecdotal post about how using regular math talks in the classroom boosted the confidence and achievement of even the most math averse students in my grade 7 homeroom.

The year was 2015, I was hired for my first contract position in a Grade 7 homeroom. I was ready to make my mark on the education community and get involved in every aspect of the school community I could and become the BEST TEACHER EVER. Well, I succeeded in being the best teacher ever - I have the award covered in minion stickers that I received from a student for the end of the year - but I also enrolled in an intense course of Math PD.

The math PD that was all the rage that year was focused on Math Talks. Normally, I am a little hesitant to go to PD because sometimes I have found it sounds really nice but is a logistical nightmare to try and incorporate into the classroom. Not this time...

This time we were lucky to receive a book called Making Number Talks Matter - Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker. This book quickly became my "go-to" book when planning math lessons (along with my Van De Walle). In this book you will find instructions on how to do math talks and what they are all about.

I will summarize here:

A math talk is a 10 to 15 minute talk that only requires posting a pre-selected question (you can use examples from the book and then adapt your own) on the board and asking students to solve it.
The catch - they can't use a calculator or pencil or paper. The math has to be done entirely using mental math strategies.

Here is a problem - try and solve it in your head and don't scroll down. Think of what strategies you used. (*hint* All questions are written horizontally to avoid rote algorithms like "Stack and solve")


9 x 16

But who cares about mental math? (We all carry calculators in our pockets now anyway.) Mental math in this case is not about knowing your times tables or being able to solve problems quickly. Here it is about selecting the appropriate strategy and breaking down a question into parts. 
When students are ready to answer they give you hand signals (shown below). The teacher then asks the student to provide their answer, and asks the class if anyone had a different answer. Once everyone has agreed on the same answer, the teacher scribes what the students suggest for their strategies. As a teacher you would ask for several strategies and I like to name it with the student's name.

Which strategy did you use?

So my anecdote goes like this. I used this everyday for about 3 months, and I gradually saw the students become more and more confident solving problems. One day, near the 2 month mark, one of my weakest math students (who NEVER participated in math talks) shyly raised his hand. He had an answer that was already on the board and now he was confident his technique worked. He shared his thinking and we wrote out his strategy on chart paper - we named it "James's Strategy" and kept it posted for the rest of the class and next... The next day as we were doing a math talk, one of my students answered a similar question to the day before . When asked what strategy they used, they replied "James's Strategy" - my shy James beamed :) It was such a proud moment for him to be able to contribute to the classroom. 

From that moment, this student began participating regularly and raised his mark from the low 50s into the high 60s. For me it was a very proud teaching moment and I can never say enough good things about number talks. 

Go and get yourself a copy now! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

ABQ Math Blog: Bundled Courses: The Art of Math

ABQ Math Blog: Bundled Courses: The Art of Math: This year, the coolest combination of subjects fell into my lap. I had a short term LTO in this bundle course called the Art of Math. Yes,...

Great article, I also really agree with what you have shown.  Art can play a huge role in learning math.  This also comes at a great time seeing that art is being brought into the STEM courses for its applicability and researched benefits.  It only makes sense as it provides a visual learning style and therefore will help visual learners and give non-visual learners another way to think of the concepts.  Lastly, it is shown to create deeper understanding of math (TSF ,2018).

I wonder if incorporating math with phys. ed, would provide great benefits?


Teacher Support Force.  (2018).  Teaching Math With Art.  Retrieved from