# 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.

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.

Mathematics is a high-stakes subject, especially in light of recent educational initiatives like "Race to the Top" and "Educate to Innovate.” High stakes, however, doesn’t mean that math can’t be fun—or creative, for the matter. In fact, we might even argue that if math students aren’t taught to be creative, they may be unprepared to meet 21st century challenges.

Think about it: Your students’ future isn’t static. Regardless of their future profession, life will demand that they have a diverse skill set. The math-savvy artist, for example, is (most likely) going to have more opportunities than someone whose knowledge stops with their own palette. A rapidly-changing, global economy needs not only solution-oriented, but creative thinkers with a range of experiences and interests.

That’s why we’d like to talk about math and arts integration and offer 2 creative lesson plan ideas that will help you (and your elementary students) take two seemingly disparate subjects (math and art) and fuse them together without having to compromise rigor for good times.

Fac(e)ing Mathematics through arts integration
The human face is a perfect place to begin. Why? For Caren Holtzman and Lynn Susholtz—authors of Object Lessons: Teaching Math through Visual Arts—it’s simply because the face has it all: number, measurement, size, shape, symmetry, ratio and proportion. When you apply these concepts to the body, you not only give your students a new lens through which to view themselves, but you help them to also approach math in a new and exciting way.

Activity 1: Lessons in Symmetry
This activity teaches students to create two-dimensional symmetrical images by giving them a portrait that only has one side of the face and asking them to complete the other half. You can either find a picture online or, if you are tech-savvy, scan and edit a photo of the student. If you have Photoshop, you can simply erase one side of the face, print it out and make photocopies for each student. If you don’t have access to photo editing software, print out the photo, cut in half vertically, place on a blank piece of paper, and make as many photocopies as you need.

Lesson Objectives
The goal of this activity is to help students analyze the geometric attributes and congruence of the face. An added bonus is that it also forces them to use their spatial sense to identify and recreate the symmetrically-balanced features that are missing. Once they are finished, you’ll find another teachable moment by asking students to consider issues of symmetry, proportion, measurement and perspective.

Vocabulary
Symmetrical, congruent, balance, bilateral

Activity 2: Polygon Portraits
This is another activity that uses the human face. This time, however, students will use geometry to compare the attributes of two-dimensional shapes; they will also have to see how those shapes can be taken apart and realigned to create new shapes.

Vocabulary
Curved, straight, edge, polygon, regular, irregular, congruent, vertex, vertices, angle, plane

Here’s what you do:

• Define and compile a list of polygon shapes by drawing them out on the board. As you do this, have your students describe the attributes of each shape.
• To supplement this activity, you might show your students pictures of Pablo Picasso’s cubist portraits. Compare his work to more conventional portraits and have your students talk about the similarities and differences between the two. Ask them what the like/dislike about Picasso’s work and why.

• Next, hand out mirrors to each student and have them draw self-portraits in either black charcoal or pencil using only polygons.
• Once they’ve done this, have your students describe their portraits using their newly acquired vocabulary.

• There are innumerable spins you could put on this activity. For instance, you could limit the number of shapes your students can use—or you could require that each shape be a different color of pastel, charcoal or colored pencil. If you prefer, you could also have your students cut these shapes out of construction paper instead of drawing them.

• If you want to challenge your students, ask them to use a set amount of polygons. For example, tell them that they have to use six triangles, 4 decagons, 5 octagons, 2 quadrilaterals, etc.

If you like these lesson-plan ideas, check out Caren Holtzman and Lynn Susholtz’ book Object Lessons: Teaching Math through Visual Arts; this is only the tip of the iceberg.

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.

If you haven’t heard of Marilyn Burns, well, you should. She’s a leading researcher and practitioner in teaching mathematics, and she has created a series of math interventions aimed at offering additional instruction to students who have fallen behind. The interventions are focused on numbers and operations, providing reteaching and remediation in mathematical computation, problem solving, and number sense. Her materials can really make a difference.

The Marilyn Burns math intervention series, Do the Math supports students and teachers in three critical ways:

1. The instruction is focused on whole numbers and fractions to rebuild the foundation for further, more complicated algebraic learning.
2. The lessons are designed around research-based, instructional practices.
3. The embedded professional development allows teachers to learn more while also implementing the intervention program.

It is worth mentioning that there are two different programs as part of the Marilyn Burns math interventions:

Do the Math (for grades 1-6) and Do the Math Now!® (for grades 6 and up). The elementary version is divided into 13 modules focused on basic mathematical operations and fractions. The secondary version, Do the Math Now, is designed as additional, year-long instruction for students who have exhibited significant weaknesses with operations and number sense.

The elementary version of the Marilyn Burns math interventions has been found to be incredibly effective in remediating struggling math students by:

•Rebuilding mathematical fluency. This approach is focused on whole numbers and fractions by returning students to some of the most basic mathematical concepts to rebuild and strengthen their foundation. Students lacking these basic computational and number-sense skills are less likely to become proficient in more advanced concepts. So Do the Math Now! helps to clear up misconceptions and rebuild the basic math skills of these struggling students.

•Enabling student and teacher flexibility. The program is designed for a variety of grade levels and a wide range of abilities. This flexibility allows teachers to meet the true needs of an individual student by using quality intervention materials.

•Employing research-based methodologies. The intervention program is built around the concepts of eight research based principles: explicit instruction, scaffolded content, multiple strategies, student interaction, gradual release, meaningful practice, vocabulary and language, and assessment and differentiation. These principles guide teachers on the implementation and effective use of the Marilyn Burns math program to best meet the needs of all learners.

•Providing accessible assessment tools. The Do the Math Now! intervention program has a variety of assessment tools available to teachers in order to provide ongoing feedback and progress monitoring. There is also an additional, web-based assessment component (Progress Space) that can be customized to suit student needs. The information provided from the Progress Space reports allows teachers to carefully monitor student achievement.

Marilyn Burns, founder of Math Solutions®, has been a teacher/researcher/author for more than 40 years. Her professional development sessions and mathematics resources are considered best practice in education. Inducted to the 2010 Educational Publishing Hall of Fame, Burns and her website should be favorites for math teachers everywhere.

Need fresh ideas, inspiration, or innovative ways to help your math students? Check out our Math Literacy Guide, with authentic tips and suggestions from teachers in the field.

Being able to correctly solve a math problem, work an algorithm, or construct a geometric shape isn't enough in today's mathematical world. Students need to have a full and comprehensive knowledge of the math vocabulary associated with the concepts they are being taught. This will help to reinforce current learning, connect with other related concepts, and build a strong mathematical foundation. There are many things a teacher can do to boost students' math vocabulary, but here are our top five:

1. Speak the language!
Although math terminology may seem confusing to students, using the correct mathematical terms is crucial for students to fully understand math concepts. To avoid confusion, teachers should be careful to always use proper terms, and not substitute alternate vocabulary.  Some vocabulary may seem daunting, especially for younger students, but using the proper terms consistently will help boost understanding and comprehension among related math concepts. This is so simple, but so very important. Also note that the terms you use with your students are likely to be different than the ones your students’ parents learned back in the day! Let parents and guardians know which terms and definitions your students are learning so that they can effectively help with homework.

2. Look it up!
There are many different online math dictionaries students can use to support their understanding of math vocabulary. These dictionaries provide an interactive way for students to explore new concepts, check definitions of unknown vocabulary terms, and further their understanding of math concepts.  Some good sites to check out are Cool Math, A Maths Dictionary, and Math Words.

3. Write it down!
Not only can students explore online dictionaries to boost their math vocabulary, but they can also record vocabulary to create their own dictionary. Dedicating a portion of a math journal to mathematical vocabulary is a great way for students to record their understanding, explain their thinking, and make connections between concepts. Students can use their math journals to write the word and definition, draw a visual representation, and create webs that link other mathematical concepts and vocabulary words. This also helps them get into the valuable habit of note-taking.

4. Go to the wall!
Although many classrooms may already have math word walls displayed, the key is finding interactive ways to use math word walls effectively. Simply displaying the words isn't enough. Students need to interact with the word wall. Teachers should refer to the word wall often and use it in mathematical think alouds to model and boost understanding. Word wall words can also be moved to a pocket chart and displayed at your students' level so they can remove a card, use it in their work, and return it to the pocket without needing assistance. Most importantly, teachers can find ways, such as using sticky notes, to make the word wall evolve as students learn. As math vocabulary is revisited, students can write or draw further explanations on sticky notes and then post them directly on the word wall.

5. Take time to play!
Math games
are always a great alternative for students to practice their math vocabulary. They provide a fun and unique avenue for students to enhance their understanding. The Word Wall Game requires a student to choose a word from the math word wall and give clues to the chosen word. Other students listen to the clues and then try to guess the word. Math Bingo is another good way to use a familiar game to reinforce vocabulary understanding. As students learn more vocabulary words, the teacher can reformat the vocabulary cards for an additional challenge. Teachers can also put the technology in their classroom to good use. For example, a projection unit and Microsoft PowerPoint Games can be combined to project games from the computer to a screen for the entire class to play. And there are dozens of online math games to discover.

By simply incorporating these five tips into your daily math instruction, you will help build a child’s math vocabulary— and a lifelong enjoyment of math.

New Guide! --Today's teachers face challenges and obstacles that they must strive to overcome. Teachers are dealing with budget shortfalls, lack of resources, larger classes, and mandated curriculum with scripted lessons. In spite of these challenges, it is our job to find ways to reach our students by making smart, purposeful decisions in our lesson design.

Math literacy, also known as numeracy, is becoming as important to students as language literacy. Teachers must be sure that students develop the ability to use numbers to help solve real-world problems, along with building a critical understanding of the language and terminology of mathematics. At a base level, students are not considered math literate until they know the fundamentals of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

As teachers, we are all too aware that math proficiency is important for graduating students in order to ensure their success in our increasingly technological workplace. But finding time to nurture math concepts beyond the typical lesson is difficult for many teachers. With a little creativity and thoughtful planning, we can help students develop greater math literacy in many ways. However, developing a fundamental, positive attitude toward mathematics in the classroom is a great start to fostering a student’s overall love for math.

Our free guide offers proven strategies that will engage your students while meeting your state and district curriculum standards. The use of math work stations, math focus walls, geocaching, math literature, hands-on manipulatives, and math games are ideal ways to keep your students motivated and interested in mathematics. Many of these tips provide great opportunities for soliciting the aid of parent-volunteers in your classroom. These are also excellent strategies to demonstrate during an observation by your administration.

If you have a technique or tip that you found helpful in your classroom, let us know and we’ll add it to the guide. Simply add a brief description of it in the comments section below, and our editor will contact you!

Download your FREE copy of the new Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching Math Literacy Guide for K-6 teachers; we’re certain you’ll find a tip or two that will strengthen math literacy in your classroom, today!

#### -Kathleen Aderearned a BS from Eastern Michigan University, an MAT from Marygrove College and an MS from Walden University and has taught mathematics and science for 11 years.  She is also a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescence/Young Adulthood Science.  Kathleen has been a Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching Mentor Advisor since 2008. Her professional interests include the International Baccalaureate Programme and the Network of Michigan Educators.

Halloween parties should be a fun break for students. But having a little structure in place can help teachers prevent their classroom parties from running amok. Elementary school parties can easily combine fun with learning. So today we’re introducing a new Math Halloween game that primes first and second grade students for learning multiplication with skip-counting. It is a game teachers can use year-round, as part of your Everyday Math lessons. And we know you’ll find it an excellent math activity for concrete, hands-on learners.

Our Master Teacher, Christina Bainbridge created this wonderful Math Halloween Party Game that you can download on her blog. It pairs candy with counting. You’ll love that they are practicing math. Children will love that they’re allowed to keep their winnings!

The trick to managing a sane Halloween party with a couple of dozen children is assembling work stations. The best treat teachers can give themselves on Halloween is a helpful room parent or two to assist! Have a different craft or activity for every sixth child, so if you have 25 students, plan on roughly four work stations. Make one of them the refreshments table, to avoid a mad dash to the food!

If weather permits, Relay Races are a traditional favorite, and again, are managed easily in small groups. For a fun twist, you can have a Zombie Relay, where children wobble, sway and stumble to the finish. How about a black cat relay, where children compete on all fours? Or a witches relay complete with a broomstick to fly on? Use your imagination, so you can capture theirs.

If you are concerned about too much sugar—and only you can discern what best fits your class, TeachHUB.com has a great blog from Patty Murray about celebrating a healthy Halloween. She suggests turning the focus from sweets to Halloween-themed school supplies such as pencils, erasers or other dollar store finds.

Who says party snacks have to be all candy? Try trail mix with dried fruit and pretzels—forget the nuts—too risky for little allergic ones. Raisins, berries, sliced fruit and dips all offer good alternatives to candy. Give older children a wooden skewer and have them assemble their own fruit kabobs—that’s a good ten minutes of activity right there!

Middle School Students Like Halloween, too

Halloween parties for middle school children are harder to plan, as some students find Halloween childish, and others aren’t ready to let go. Middle school parties are a great way to establish classroom community by simply having some down time to talk with one another, and share ideas.

Why not engage students with an ice-breaker that gets them talking about something content related. How about making a cliché graveyard to work with your writing instruction? It is a fun oral and writing exercise that asks students to identify a list of clichés that they can “bury” all year, and promise to never use in their writing. Phrases such as “not so much” and “at the end of the day” can be written on “tombstones” made of construction paper and posted to a bulletin board.

Simply passing out carmeled apples to older students—children who are accustomed to years of a big production on Halloween— is a thoughtful gesture. We need to wean them slowly! For many age appropriate Halloween learning ideas, check out TeachHUB’s blog on Classroom Activities for any grade. There are some great ones here for older students.

With a little forethought and a lot of creativity, Halloween can be a productive and memorable holiday for children of all ages. Happy Halloween!

Successful math teachers have certain qualities that make them the experts they are. These are the teachers who are requested by parents, year after year, because of their knowledge, style and handle on the subject; they know what really works for students.

Many textbooks and scholars will say that math teachers should have an extensive knowledge and love of mathematics. This is very helpful, but if math is not the sole reason you get up each morning, don’t worry. A healthy command of mathematics literacy is just fine.

Good primary math teachers, in particular, seem to possess an endless amount of patience, because there are many different ways that students actually learn mathematics. And they learn at many different speeds. Math teachers are not frustrated by do-overs. Or complete start overs.

Understanding Piaget’s theory on how youngsters create logic and number concepts is time well spent for math teachers. It underscores the necessity of knowing your students, so you can serve them well.

A recent blog from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics speaks to the need for teacher preparation programs to change, in order to avoid teaching children rules before they are developmentally ready to understand them.

Flexibility is key, too, since addressing multiple intelligences takes time, and lots of creative energy. Try skip counting to that beloved wedding reception staple “Macarena” for kinesthetic learners. “2-4-6-8…Heyyyy, Multiplication!”

Math teachers need the ability to do quick error analysis, and must be able to concisely articulate what a student is doing wrong, so they can fix it. This is the trickiest part of being a good math teacher. It helps if you have natural ability—but in time, this can be developed. Ask any veteran math teacher, and he’ll tell you that after ten years, you get pretty good at continuous formative assessments. And the Macarena, too.

Plus, don’t even try to send home math homework that isn’t specifically targeted to what students are learning in class. With math, you must be explicit. Precision is the name of the game, so your homework direction must be, too.

Remember that more isn’t better when assigning math problems. Five to 10 focused problems works well. And please return that checked homework the next day, whenever possible, with examples of how your student can improve. You’ll be glad you took the time. It will show in your students’ increasing independence, knowledge and confidence.

EdWeek’s blog  announced a new initiative last October called the Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership to prepare secondary math teachers for the rigors of new common math standards. That’s excellent news for districts, teachers and  students— not to mention for parents who simply cannot help their children with middle school math homework, no matter how hard they try.

Lastly, it’s important to note that good math teachers never live in the past. They live in the here and now. The past is full of all kinds of outmoded algorithims and dated math terms—the very terms that teachers themselves must unlearn so they can re-learn, and keep re-learning. So as you can imagine, a good math teacher appreciates change, and even welcomes it.  Throw in a little daily enthusiasm, and you have exactly what it takes to be a great math teacher.