# MAT Blog

YouTube is pretty awesome. YouTube videos have helped us fumble our way through countless tasks from how to build a staircase and put up drywall, to how to cook the perfect steak and make sushi. It has also helped us in the classroom when we needed to show our math students something rather than tell them about it.

While there are lots of useful math tutorials on YouTube, there’s also just as much rubbish, which makes sorting out the good stuff tedious and time consuming.

This morning we made an exciting new discovery—a video tutorial website called ThatTutorGuy. It’s run by a Stanford University graduate named Chris who is well-versed in anything from pre-algebra and analysis to trig, pre-calculus and physics. After watching several of his tutorials, we assure you that he’s the real deal.

While you will find several free videos on his site, you’ll have to become a subscriber to access all of them. For \$30 a month you’ll get 24/7 access to all the videos in all the classes on the site, to watch in whatever order you want, as many times as you want. As new classes are added, you'll get access to those as well.

If you’d like to try before you completely buy, Chris offers a seven-days-for-\$7 trial. There’s also a discounted, six-month plan for \$97 (that’s 46 percent off the regular subscription price).

To give you a sense for what his algebra tutorials are like, check out the video below.

“When will I ever use this?” It’s one of the most common questions math teachers hear from students. While there are lots of ways we can respond to this question, we believe the best answer comes from showing, rather than telling, our students why math is relevant to their lives.

Yummy Math is a web resource that will help you do this. All of the activities you’ll find on the site use real-world problems and scenarios that are not only familiar and engaging to students, but require them to use math to solve them.

Everything you’ll find on Yummy Math corresponds with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Process (NCTM) Standards and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematical Practice. Yummy Math is also in the process of adding CCSS correlation to every activity on the site. New lessons are added a few times a week and all of them are completely free.

Here are two examples of the types of activities you’ll find on the site:

Boorito
For Halloween 2013 Chipotle (a fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain) is offering \$3 burritos to any customer that comes in dressed in their Halloween costume after 4 p.m. Even better, Chipotle will donate up to one million dollars of the proceeds from the \$3 items to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. This foundation is dedicated to creating a sustainable, healthful, equitable food future.

• I wonder how likely it is that Chipotle will be able raise one million dollars in one evening? Take a couple minutes, first individually and then with a partner, to think about whether this goal is even reasonable? Write some of your observations and thoughts below.

•What information would be helpful to know in order to figure out the probability of Chipotle reaching their goal? Record your thoughts below.

Can you imagine sailing off to the West, into an empty looking ocean, to find what your captain believes is a good route to the Indian subcontinent?  This was a pretty risky navigational feat. Luckily the ships experienced good weather on their trip to the Caribbean.

These are only two amongst dozens of math activities you’ll find on Yummy Math, so be sure to stop by and browse their resource library.

Websites housing worksheets tailored to meet the Common Core are a dime a dozen, but few—if any—are as comprehensive as CommonCoreSheets.com. Here you will find free downloadable PDFs for math, social studies, science and language arts. Each worksheet comes in 10 different versions. Preview each version or download all of them in one fell swoop.

What we particularly love about the PDFs we find on CommonCoreSheets is that there is an answer column on almost all of the worksheets, which makes grading quicker. And because of the convenient formatting, you can actually grade several papers at once.

Put away your calculator or sliding scale and simply refer to the built-in scoring rubrics on the bottom of each sheet.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Everything on CommonCoreSheets is completely free, no registration required.

In school, we depend on language to convey ideas. The teacher walks up to the board, writes words, uses words to ask and answer questions; the students receive books with words and are assessed with tests using—you got it—words. Even when it comes to assessing math literacy, we depend on words. This dependence on language is precisely what TED Talks speaker Matthew Peterson—Chief Technical Officer and Senior Scientist at the MIND Research Institute—addresses in his eight-minute lecture, Teaching Without Words. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Words, words, words…do we need them to teach math literacy?

Interrogating our dependence on language starts to make sense, however, when we consider states like California where 25 percent of students are English language learners, 15 percent have language learning difficulties and 20 percent fail language comprehension tests. Is Peterson suggesting that reading proficiency is not a priority? Not at all. He is simply suggesting that it may be necessary to find new ways to teach students for whom language is still a barrier. He’s also suggesting that we may not need language to teach math literacy.

In addition to watching his brief lecture (which you’ll find below), we recommend stopping by MIND Research Institute’s website to learn more about Peterson’s spatial-temporal approach to teaching K-5 mathematics. The software he and his team have designed to teach math literacy does not use language, numbers or symbols; instead, it teaches students to visualize and focus on interactive problem solving.

Before we officially shift our gaze towards 2013, we thought we’d celebrate the New Year by compiling some of Marygrove College’s most popular resources of 2012.

Now you can take them with you and access them whenever and wherever you are! Inside our Best of 2012 you’ll find:

• 10 things you should know for the first day of school
• Ways to reinvent elementary geometry and make it fun
• Literacy tools that nurture independent reading
• Ways to teach grammar…without teaching grammar
• Classroom management tips
• Simple and practical ways to enhance your curriculum with free technology

And more!

These are only a few of the resources you’ll find inside our Best of 2012—and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, be sure to browse our blog and resource library as well!

On behalf of Marygrove College’s Master in the Art of Teaching program, we want to wish you a healthy and successful New Year.

-The MAT Team

Thanksgiving is as exciting as it is hectic—especially when you’re a teacher. Not only do you have to plan out Thanksgiving for your family, you’ve got a classroom (or classrooms) full of kids to think about! If you’re running behind this year, or simply looking for a few new Thanksgiving lesson plans to supplement the tried and true, look no further: Here are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving activities that you can easily tie into your math, English, art and social studies curriculum.

4 Last-Minute Thanksgiving Lesson Plans for Elementary Teachers

Math
This is a fun activity for your elementary mathematicians, one that applies real-world math skills, but with a Thanksgiving twist. Here’s what you do:

Gather ads from a few of your local grocery stores. Divide the class into groups of three or four and assign each group a budget; you’ll also want to let them know how many guests they’ll be inviting to their hypothetical Thanksgiving dinner. Their task will be to stick to their budget and create a Thanksgiving dinner from the items listed in the advertisements.

Not only does this help your students hone their math skills—especially multiplication, where the prices of turkey are given per lb.—it also forces them to use their critical thinking skills by comparing items from several grocery stores to find the best price!

Writing/Composition
We originally got this idea from Vallye Blanton, a fifth grade teacher at Lake Park Elementary School in Georgia. Here’s what you do:

Compile a list of objects and then write them on slips of paper. For example, you might write down a few historical figures from the unit your students are currently studying, a pop star your students like, President Obama, an oven mitten, whatever—the objects can be inanimate, animate, and fictional, whatever you want, just get creative. Next, throw them into a hat and have each student pick one slip of paper.

Your students’ task will be to write a paragraph (maybe even a six-word story like we suggested in an earlier blog) describing what that person or object has to be thankful for. This activity sparks engaging (and often hilarious) classroom discussions. We’ve tried this and had great success with it!

History/Art
The folks over at Hazel Avenue School in West Orange, New Jersey came up with an activity they call Famous Faces. The activity is an excellent way to integrate reading, research and art. Once students have written a summary report about a famous historical figure, they take it a step further by making poster-board cutouts of the person to help bring him or her to life.

Since you’re putting the activity together a bit late in the game, you may want to simplify it. Instead of having your students write up a report, you might present and discuss some of the historical myths surrounding popular versions of the Thanksgiving story and have your students create poster board illustrations of what they’ve learned. For example, when many of our students think of “Pilgrims,” they automatically see strange folks in black hats. The same goes for the Wampanoag, the Native Americans who lived near Plymouth when it was first founded: Many of us envision the Wampanoag riding horses, sleeping in teepees and donning elaborate feather headdresses at the Thanksgiving dinner table. None of this, however, is accurate.

There’s an excellent site put together by LEARN NC—a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education—that will help you place the Thanksgiving story back into its original context and discuss it with your students.

Eating! (Who could forget this?!)
If there’s one thing every Thanksgiving activity needs, it’s good food. How about having your students make some Oreo Turkey Treats. We got this idea from Kimi C. over at Flickr.

Here’s what you’ll need:

7 Candy Corn
1 Whopper
1 Reese's Peanut Butter Cup
1 Tube of black piping gel
1 tube of white icing
1 Yellow and red food coloring
1 Yellow and red food coloring
1 Plastic Ziplock bag
1 sharp knife
1 pair of scissors
1 bowl

Here’s how you make them:
Put your Peanut Butter Cups in the fridge to cool. If you have cold hard chocolate to work with it makes it a lot easier.

Squeeze some of the white icing into a bowl. This will be your orange. Mix red and yellow food coloring with the icing to create your desired orange. Then put that into a plastic bag and set it aside for later.

Creating:
First you will be creating the tail using 1 Oreo cookie and 6 Candy Corns. Gently, with one candy corn pull apart just one side of the Oreo. Don't break apart the entire thing. Put a good amount of icing in between the two sides. This will help the Candy Corn stay. Place 6 Candy Corn (white side down) in between the cookie. See picture.

Take your white icing and squeeze a generous amount onto the top back of an Oreo cookie. Take the other Oreo and put the bottom into the icing to have it stand up. If it doesn't stand, add more icing! Once you have it standing, put it up against something so it doesn't fall until the icing is dry. I use a thick book.

Remove your Peanut Butter Cup from the fridge. Take your knife and cut off the very bottom so you have a flat surface. Put icing on the bottom and prop it up against the bottom and back of your Oreo cookies. See picture.

Next take your Whopper and squeeze more icing on one side. Place the Whopper on top of the Peanut Butter Cup to make your head.

Find a piece of Candy Corn that has a nice big white end. Using your sharp knife cut the color off leaving you with the white end. Place some icing on it and stick it on your Whopper as the beak to your Oreo Turkey. Hold for a moment.

Take your icing and place two white dots as eyes. Get your tube of black piping gel and place a black dot on each eye to make them come alive.

Grab your bag of already created orange. Cut a very small hole in the corner of the bag. Now, pipe feet.

Now you are done! It’s that simple!!

It’s curious that math and art have traditionally been placed on opposite sides of the spectrum, especially when you consider that they share many common features. Artists, like mathematicians, are problem solvers; they know how to improvise with raw materials, and look at their environment and their world in new and innovative ways. Both must be able to communicate, collaborate, think critically and approach their palate from perspectives other than their own. That’s why we are so stuck on arts integration—that is, bringing math into the art classroom and art into the math classroom.

Last week, we shared two of our favorite arts integration activities from Caren Holtzman and Lynn Susholtz’ book Object Lessons: Teaching Math through Visual Arts. Readers were enthusiastic about it, so we’re sharing one more lesson plan with you:

Arts Integration in the Elementary Math Classroom: Venn Sihlouettes
This activity is called Venn Silhouettes and, as you may have guessed from the title, it asks students to work with a Venn diagram and a silhouette. This could work for older students, but it is most appropriate for grades 3-5.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started: An overhead projector, markers, colored pencils or crayons, large white paper and tape.

Before you begin the activity, your students should be familiar with the following vocabulary words: Venn diagram, silhouette, overlap, same, different, compare, contrast, survey, graph, certain, equally likely, unlikely, impossible, profile.

Once you’ve familiarized your students with these vocabulary words, pair them up in groups of two. Have them tape their piece of paper to the wall opposite the projector; then have them take turns tracing each other’s silhouette on the same sheet of paper. If you look at the picture to the right, you’ll see that the silhouettes overlap but are facing opposite directions.

Next, have your students discuss things they have in common and things that make them unique from each other. Their task is to use colored pencils to either draw or use words to illustrate what makes them unique in the sections of their faces that do not overlap. After this, they should use the markers to write or illustrate those things they share in common.

Once they are finished, it’s up to you to decide where you want to take the activity. If it is still early in the school year, this is a great ice-breaker; it’s also a great way to spruce up your walls and create a student gallery.

Should you choose to create a student gallery, you can build on the activity by having your students conduct a “gallery walk” where they garner ideas and think about new things they could add to their own silhouettes. This activity is useful for triggering what Holtzman and Susholtz call “I wonder” questions: “Does John have a younger sister like I do? How long did Kelly live in Germany and why?” This will prompt students to interact and communicate with one another to find answers to their questions.

If you want to take the activity further, ask your students to collect data from the entire class; they can convert their findings to percentages and create graphs.

If you are like most educators, you’re on the prowl for new ways to engage your students. That's why Marygrove's Master in the Art of Teaching program continues to add  free downloadable guides to our website. If you find our resources to be helpful, you should know that this is only a small portion of the forward-thinking career and professional development ideas you’ll encounter at Marygrove College.

Math games for teachers are a fun way to entertain your mathematical geniuses and inspire the students who are lagging behind. If you're looking for new ways to inspire your students to find the joy in fractions, decimals, and algebraic equations - look no further. Here are 10 FREE math games that can help you reinforce your current lesson plans, allow your students some computer time, and give them a break - of sorts.

10 Free Math Games for Teachers

1. Add Like Mad. This game gives students a target number and a huge board of number tiles. Students have to click the numbers in order to Add Like Mad until the numbers they have selected add up to the target number.

2. Aquarium Fish. Little ones will enjoy this counting game. Count the Aquarium Fish and select the number that reflects the accurate total. At the end of the game, the computer tells you how many attempts it took to get the answer right, which can be a helpful assessment for teachers.

3. Math Man. The game Math Man is based on Pac Man. Need we say more? First Math Man has to eat the ?, then he has to eat the ghost that solves the math equation. You can use it to reinforce multiplication, division, and rounding numbers.

4. Digit Drop. Students practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division in Digit Drop. Simply drop the correct number from a big number batch to finish the equation. Students can practice, play, and select their level.

5. Calc. Students do the calculation in their heads and type the correct answer. The better they do, the faster and harder it gets. Your geniuses can even start at the "genius" level.

6. Counting Money. This is one of the best games for teaching students how to count money, make change, and do money-based word problems. Money Counting Basic states a specific dollar amount and students click on the money drawer to put the appropriate amount of change in the "hand."

7. Genius Defender. Holy moly. Where was Genius Defender when we were learning to add and subtract decimals? Cute little men and women defend their fort as the "invaders" - holding decimal problems - mount an attack. When students type in the correct answer to an attacker's decimal problem, the defenders eliminate him. The goal is to answer all equation attackers accurately before they invade the fort. It's addictive.

8. WMD2. Weapons of Maths Destruction involves shooting targets and tanks to receive a math equation. Easy equations deal with simple addition and subtraction skills. Harder ones move into the algebraic realm.

9. More or Less? Help students make comparisons by determining whether there are More or Less of certain objects in the squares. By selecting the least populated, most populated, or evenly populated squares, students learn to compare quantities.

10. Space Match Geo. Space Match Geo is great for beginning geometry students, helping them learn lines, rays, acute angles, etc. by playing a memory game. They flip over the icons to reveal a shape or a vocabulary term and have to match them appropriately.

These 10 math games for teachers are just a sampling of all that MathNook has to offer. They can be used to reward students who are doing well, as a fun way to work with students who are struggling with certain concepts, or as a Friday Fun Day. However, we do recommend that students use head phones so you can remain sane during the learning process.

Studies that promote integrating mathematics with literature show a strong correlation between learning math content and interacting with stories that have mathematics themes. (Whitin & Wilde, 1992, 1995; Burns, 1992, 1995; Zambo, 2005). Since the new common core standards in math emphasize learning fewer concepts in greater depth, extending learning through text can become a routine part of a teacher’s math curriculum.

From the time a preschool child hears a story like “The Grouchy Ladybug,” by Eric Carle (or “The Bad Tempered Labybird” as it was published in the UK), math concepts are being introduced early on, albeit covertly.  “Research supports that integrating mathematics with literature makes mathematical concepts more meaningful to young minds,” said Carole Kamerman, Independent Educational Consultant and retired educator from Kalamazoo Public Schools in Michigan. “Even though the concept is finally becoming popular, I must say I have always used picture books to support math lessons…it really works.”

As a former curriculum trainer and facilitator, including adopting curriculum for a girl’s school in Dubai, UAE, Kamerman stresses the importance of parents keeping the dialogue about math positive at home. “We need to remind parents, guardians and caregivers that saying things like, ‘I was never any good at math,’ is not acceptable anymore, there’s just too much at stake for our students,” she said.

How true. The National Academies 2010 study cites that the US ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science and engineering. This is what the Next Generation Science Standards and common core standards in mathematics stand to address in a meaningful way. It is essential that we remove the disconnect between subjects; the new science core standards—just like their math counterparts— will emphasize less rote memorization, fewer, but more specific concepts, and concentrate on the kind of science students can use for college and career pursuits.

Both sets of common core standards in science and math seek to focus on the big ideas— key concepts that can be continually used to teach a variety of skills and processes. How teachers choose to integrate subjects so that these “big ideas” resonate with students is the creative challenge.

The challenge for teachers: making sure the “big ideas” resonate with students.

In addition to rigorous instruction, we recommend that elementary school teachers, specifically, leave their biases at the door and speak about math in an upbeat way in the classroom, even if it isn’t their favorite subject. Negative views about math and science can be contagious.

“Some students are predisposed to dislike math, so anything we can do to help develop healthy attitudes about the subject is so important,” says Dr. Charles Pearson, Coordinator of the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment program. “Giving students lots of opportunities to engage in math concepts is key, and reading math-related children’s literature is one great way to do that.”

Here are some titles Dr. Pearson recommends to add to your math literacy library:

“Centipede’s 100 Shoes” (Ross) Add/Subtract to 100

“Tar Beach” (Ringgold) Add/Subtract problems by the GCI method; African American Culture

Problem solving:

“A House is a House for Me” (Hoberman) Classification

“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” (Willems) Ask students to determine the number of buses needed for a school trip.

“Ming Lo Moves the Mountain” (Lobel) Multicultural Story

For more good titles, you can view this list from Dr. Elaine Young, Associate Professor of Mathematics, at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Pearson also stresses that when teachers choose math-related books that tie to students’ experiences, both personally and culturally, it helps children better identify with math concepts.

Kamerman agrees: “Suddenly fractions are not so scary,” she says. “…and counting money is fun when you choose a delightful and engaging book to illustrate the concept.” She recommends “Eating Fractions” by Bruce Macmillan or “Gator Pie by Louise Mathews, and “Benny’s Pennies” by Pat Brisson.

Download our free webinar on How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math and get even more tips to encourage greater math literacy in your classroom.

As common core standards in mathematics become increasingly integrated with language arts, building strong math literacy libraries will be essential for K-6 teachers. Our latest webinar airs Wednesday, June 27, designed to show elementary teachers how to use picture books to enhance math learning for their students.

Listen in on the discussion about teaching math in a different way with Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching’s Charles Pearson, Ph.D. as he presents “How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math” on Wednesday, June 27 at 4 p.m. EST.

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Pearson is a veteran educator with more than 30 years under his belt. As a former elementary school teacher for 14 years, and principal for nine, Dr. Pearson knows the challenges teachers in all environments face, day in and day out.

Joining him in the conversation is Carole Kamerman, an Independent Educational Consultant from Battle Creek, Michigan. She’ll share her multi-faceted teacher leadership experience with our audience and present a fresh perspective on teaching across the curriculum.

Both of them agree that even if math isn’t your first love, there are many tools elementary school teachers can use to make teaching mathematics effective and lots of fun. They’ll offer ideas on how to tie children’s literature to math lessons for optimal student engagement. They’ll even suggest some titles to start your own classroom math library, if you haven’t already.

When teachers incorporate literature as part of a routine, they can see the difference it makes in even the hardest to reach students. Don’t miss this one!

Register Now for Our FREE Webinar “How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math,” June 27 at 4 p.m!