Do YOU have "The Math Curse"?

News in the math world

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Hey Teachers!

Many of you signed up for coaching cycles and I have to say, I am so excited to spend some time working with you and your students. Some of you asked if there was a way for coaches to help teachers who are not in a cycle. The answer is YES! Hopefully this page will provide some help as the year moves along. My plan is to update this page as often as I can to help give you information, examples, tips and anything else that might help get your students (and you) to have the "math curse".

Below are some pictures of books that I have seen many of you use in your classrooms to mix literature with math. If you have not thought of how these two content areas relate, here are a few examples of how to pull in literature during your math workshop.

(If you want to borrow these books, I have them in my office!!)

Launching a Community of Learners

I know that most of you have moved beyond launch and you are now into your first focus but it is still important to hold to your classroom expectations. Part of a successful math workshop is having a strong community of learners. This is true in the reading and language workshop as well. The link below provides a video of a teacher in Alaska who displays a great example of how to develop a strong community of learners. Check it out and let me know your thoughts!

13 Rules that Expire

Sometimes it is hard to train your brain not to teach those old time "rules" in math. This article, from Teaching Children Mathematics, is a great resource to understand why American teachers have such a hard time with this. It explains why those "rules" are overgeneralized and how using "tricks and tips" do not promote conceptual math understanding. Those helpful tricks we think are helping can actually provide misunderstanding for kids leaning especially after that trick "expires". Find the rules that pertain to your grade. You might find some helpful advice for teaching! Perhaps this could be helpful for conference as well when you have parents asking why we are teaching "the new math". More to come on that later ;)

Things to remember about The Math Workshop

We have learned a lot in the past couple years about the math workshop. For those of you who are new or those who just need a little refresher, here is a list of things to keep in mind for fostering a successful math workshop.


  • Engagement is meant to get the students mentally prepared and ready for the task.
  • Use literature as a springboard, but use a book that the students have heard before the math workshop. You will find it takes too much time to read the entire book during that 10-15 engagement time.
  • Try a real-life connection or situation to pull kids in during the engagement. The kids love when you share moments from your life or things happening around them. Use this to your advantage. Make those connections during engagement and it will help them stay invested throughout the entire lesson because it is a "real" problem they are trying to solve.
  • Video clips can work great during engagement as well-just make sure you preview them before you show them to the class.
  • If your engagement involves you playing a game with the class, use your turn as an opportunity for them to turn and talk to a partner about what your answer could be.
  • Investigation is a time for the students to consider the task at hand, plan a path to accomplish the task, try out the plan and determine if the plan and/or their solution makes sense.
  • The investigation time is a great opportunity to uncover misconceptions through conversations with your students.
  • Allow yourself the permission to stop during the middle of the investigation time to work through a misconception that the whole class is struggling with. You will be happy you addressed it as a whole group rather than putting out tiny little fires over and over throughout the lesson.
  • Be thinking about who you could use as an example for share time as you walk around during investigation.
  • Questioning takes practice. So often we want to fix or tell or help too much during the investigation time. Practice asking your students deep questions that get their thinking going and it will help them own their learning much more.
  • Let go! The most precious gift to those students is giving them the opportunity to use their ideas to explore and not simply follow teacher directions or procedures.
  • The purpose for share time is to allow students to share, justify and defend their solutions and strategies to solidify learning.
  • Make time for share time. This may mean that you share before you clean up so you will be sure you get the share time in.
  • Be intentional for who you choose to share. You want what is being shared to benefit the class. So often we want to have the struggling student that made growth in the lesson share, but we really have to think "will his/her growth solidify learning for the whole class?"
  • Share time is tough! We are all still learning about what a quality share time looks like for each grade level. Each share time will get better every day.

Rachel Schatzberg

Feel free to visit with me anytime! My goal is to help you any way I can. Sometimes there are times during the day to chat, but sometimes there is not. This site is meant to give you information at your convenience.