Thursday, July 31, 2014

Math and ELLs

In Ontario we have many English Language Learners that are expected to learn and understand mathematics within our integrated system. As Ontario students, ELLs are immersed in our core curriculum and are required to take various standardized tests such as EQAO and OSSLT. 

I often wonder what exactly are our ELLs are thinking as they listen and try to understand teachers in everyday math life. It must be particularly difficult during standardized testing time as they are unfamiliar with new English and Math vocabulary on the test especially since they can not receive must assistance from their classroom teacher. 

This video gives a glimpse of how a bilingual ELL might receive information from their teacher about math, specifically math problems on standardized testing. It also demonstrates the frustrations classroom teachers face when helping an ELL. 

This video helped me understand my students better and I hope it will do the same for you. It is a must watch.

What do you think? I would love to get comments about it. Let me know


Math Games

So often in the math classroom, it can be a challenge to create meaningful connections for students, and to find ways to fully engage students. It is great to have blogs such as this, with many people striving to create a better math class to teach in. For my post I would like to pose a question.

What do people think about internet math games in the classroom?

I have found many gaming websites that advertise themselves as math oriented. This is not to say that I don't agree, I am just curious as to whether other people use these websites, and if there is a place in the classroom for these games? From my teaching experience and a quick google search, it was easy to find multiple math gaming websites.

My opinion is that these games can have many great mathematical lessons in them, but often times students can bounce back and forth between games, and some will be interested in different games, so it could be a bit of a challenge to have a discussion about the math in the games. I have even given assignments in which I encourage students to play a math game on the internet they enjoy, and then to tell me the connection to math for each game. I found that often the students were not engaged in this discussion, and that they enjoyed playing the games, but weren't necessarily learning in terms of anything that is curriculum based. I am wondering what other people think on this topic, and maybe if someone with a bit more experience/knowledge would be able to help me out with a better application for these websites?


Hand Multiplication Facts

As a teacher I'm always trying to find thing that will help my students with their multiplication fact.  This is one such video:
I must admit that the video itself is very boring and slow, but the idea behind it is good.  This isn't something I would show a class right away when you are first teaching them their multiplication facts.  This is something that can be shown later in order to give the students a was of checking their work.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Math Camps

It's always exciting to meet and work with students who are not only talented in the area of mathematics, but have a genuine love for the subject. These are the students that challenge us to push them toward something bigger and deeper and foster their love for such a demanding subject. One challenge that these students often face is that they are alone when it comes to their fascination with math. This can create an isolation which can lead to abandonment of math altogether. OurKids has a website for a variety of math camps that we can promote to these special students where they will meet peers with common interests and will be able to practice and learn new math skills over March Break and summer. Check out the website below for more information!

Math in the Real World

How many of us have heard a student say, "When will I ever use this in real life?" We will never admit it, but sometimes this question is a tricky one to answer. I came across a video that takes accounts of people in real careers and how some aspect of each of these careers uses math. This video not only talks about the importance of knowing math but that it is all around us in our everyday lives. Showing this video in class might inspire a student or two to keeping pushing and persevere through a subject that can be incredibly frustrating and one that often has a negative stigma attached to it. It is important that we develop positive attitudes toward mathematics, because if this idea is ignored, students with great potential in math may simply give up on it.

"Japanese" Multiplication

I found a really cool video with an alternate method of multiplication that I haven't seen in schools before. This method would greatly benefit visual-spatial learners or just those struggling with current multiplication methods in general. Check out the video here and let me know what you think! Some may suggest that it's more complicated than necessary once you get into two and three digit numbers, and this may be the case for some students, but for those looking for a different option, this is a great one!

Another method known as "lattice multiplication" is somewhat comparable to Japanese Multiplication. Check it out here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wolfram Alpha

So I recently found this website
It allows you to ask any math-based question and it'll solve it or explain the concept! It's geared more for advanced level math even university stuff.  It even gives graphs of functions and can sshow you step-by-step solutions if you sign up for a membership. Hope you like it as much as I do

Go on this page if you want to read through it too


Monday, July 28, 2014


I am new to the Twitter world however, I am learning the benefits to this social media website.
I typed in the search engine #math then #teachingmath and then #mathapps 
I was able to find a interesting math game that could be used in class when students have some free time. This app entitled: MultiFlow is a exciting app for practicing multiplication.
It is a great way to have students work on their multiplication tables. This youtube link below gives a brief tutorial about the app. The video is not very exciting but it does explore the app and acts as a good tutorial.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Math Video: Math in Real Life

I'm not sure if this video was posted for one of our discussions however, I found it to be very interesting. Throughout this course, many of us have stated that students often say, "when will I ever use this information in real life" when addressing various math concepts. Although this video is not the most exciting, it has great information about the many professions that use math.

I like how the video captures the professions that students would typically think need math in the beginning. Then, the video captures many other jobs that require math. The jobs listed may surprise students. For instance, individuals who work in the law force ie. police officers need math. Construction workers, and doctors use math everyday. I think this video would help showcase the need for math in everyday life and in every profession.

Don't Teach Math, Coach It

I came across this interesting article and thought I should share it with all of you through this blog.
The article has been linked below:

This article was great because it talks about teaching math through games. Many of the students that I taught told me that they hated math because it was hard and they didn't understand the purpose of learning math concepts because they would never use them later in life.

I think that this article touches on the challenges associated with teaching math and ways to make math fun and enjoyable for students. The article talks about how many popular games can teach math. For instance the article states how chess builds the ability to follow a series of logical steps and Monopoly demands basic arithmetic and probabilistic reasoning. Although the article talks about classic games that can capture math, the article also addresses newer games that help kids learn math.

Through my placement this year, I utilized the classroom iPads for many lessons. I utilize the game: Tetris when exploring the algebra and patterning unit. However, the app: Dragon Box can also teach the components of algebra. Through this article, there is a clear message. As teachers, we need to coach students through math like their coaches coach them through sports and games. Through new advancements in technology and new and changing games we can teach students through a medium that they find helpful. Introducing math concepts through games is a great idea and I would have appreciated it when I was a student.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Illuminations are on the Menu

We’ve already discovered that the NCTM Website has something for everyone.  From publications to magazines, reviews to conferences, there’s most likely very little you can’t find in this mathematical candy store.

One of the cooler things they offer is Illuminations.

Yes, yes…  It’s an American website, with core standards instead of curriculum expectations, quoted prices including one dollar bills and pennies instead of loonies and toonies.  But!  The ideas are there for free, and they apply to us Canucks in the same way they do for those Yanks.

Illuminations offers materials by grade groupings.  Seeing that this is a grade 7 and 8 course, you’d probably want to search for intermediate materials.



What about those students working at lower grade levels on IEPs?  Well, there’s something there for them too.  It’s like a math market with combos!  Talk about differentiating!

What’s on the menu?

An instructional plan, objectives and standards, materials lists, ideas for extensions and assessments, questions and reflections and a heaping side of related resources.

You might be wondering if all of this is available on the value menu.  Well fear not my friends in math, it’s all there for the taking for FREE!

Yes, I said free.  No cost associated at all.

So what are you waiting for?


Dan Meyer's TED Talk

The formulation of a problem is often more essential that its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.
~ Albert Einstein

TED Talk has more videos than you can shake a proverbial stick at, however with some searching there is a plethora of great math talks.  A talk for everyone! 

Dan Meyer, a high school math teacher, takes his 11 minutes and 36 seconds of Ted fame, and discusses why textbooks should really be thrown out the window in this age of technology.  He compares the boring old problems we find in our textbooks to watching 4 hours of Two and Half Men.  Watch it, and call it a day.  No one is going to recall what they learned the way we’re teaching it anyway.


I’m so glad you asked.

The reason is simple.  The textx don’t present problems in a way in which we would see them in our everyday lives.  There is never going to be a time when we’re faced with a problem in our lives when everything is laid out perfectly before us, including the formula, graph and all the variables.

The problem here is that we aren’t encouraging our students to figure out what the problem really is, and to take an active part in formulating the problem, as our friend Albert points out.

With all the technology at our fingertips today, there’s really no reason for math teachers to be relying on any textbook.  We’ve got everything we need, as long as you’ve got a little time, knowledge and imagination, in the technology at hand.  At the HWDSB, the idea is that every student from grade 4 to 12 will have an iPad by then end of the next five years.  What does this mean?  It means that textbooks should have a relatively short lifespan from this point on.

Check out his video and see if you agree.


Choice Boards in Math

A choice board is a graphic organizer that allows you to give your students options in their learning activities. It is a great way to incorporate activities that appeal to different learning styles or multiple intelligences and gives students a sense of ownership over their learning. There are various ways to set up a choice board, but it typically consists of 9 squares (although you can have any number you wish) and students choose one square or some combination of squares as designated by the teacher. For example, a tic-tac-toe style choice board is popular, in which each square has one activity and students must select three activities that form a line on the board. 

For templates and guides to get started as well as sample choice boards, check out Dare to Differentiate.

Many people tend to think of math in very black and white terms: you get problems, you give answers, you learn a skill, you do drills, etc. Choice boards would be a great way to put the learning in the hands of the students and make learning math more flexible and enjoyable. Choices for any math concept could include: writing a song, draw an infographic, create a comic, write a poem or story, create questions, complete a brainteaser or challenge, perform a skit, or create a game. Students will naturally choose the options that feel most comfortable to them and that’s how they will learn the best.

Not only do the students benefit by having the choice, the teachers can benefit as well. It becomes a great opportunity to learn from your students – they will come up with things you don’t expect and will use what you learn in the years to come. Seeing what your students choose will also help you get a better understanding of their learning style and preferences which you can use to differentiate instruction. 

Have you used choice boards in your classroom? What are some other pros/cons?