Educational Ramblings

Thoughts and resources from your Instructional Coach

Making Math Children Will Love

The latest Grades 3 and 6 EQAO data showed that a significant number of children do not enjoy math, finding it, "hard, boring, mostly irrelevant and unrewarding." (L. Colgan, What Works? Research into Practice August 2014). How can we help shift this thinking and improve attitudes around mathematics? Here are three things to give some thought to:

1. Engagement - providing a "hook" or a provocation through videos, images, and strange problems can get students asking questions about mathematical concepts without even knowing it. These queries set the stage for the intended learning goal.

2. Conversation - allowing students to talk the math out with each other creates an environment where it is acceptable (and encouraged) to question, reason, judge, communicate, and reflect. It also provides rich evidence of student learning and allows you to give prompt feedback.

3. Variety of tool use - the majority of our students are visual learners and need tools to learn, think, and talk about math beyond paper and pencil. Algebra tiles, counters, base ten blocks, fraction strips, rulers, graph paper, linking cubes, LEGO, board games, card games, dice, virtual manipulatives, ...the list goes on and on. Differentiation goes much deeper than simply changing the question; providing students with varied tools will help to make mathematics more approachable.

Getting Started - Resources to use in math class

Number Talks

A number talk is a powerful tool that is used on-going to support mathematical instruction. The purpose is to help improve computational efficiency and fluency, as well as thinking, reasoning, and communication skills. They are very short (5-10 minutes) and are not necessarily tied to your math lesson, unit, or strand.
Math Solutions Number Talks K 2 Rekenreks

Estimation 180

Use an image to engage students in a, "How many _______ do you think there are and how do you know?" discussion.

Visual Patterns

Choose a pattern of the day and have students determine the next term, the 10th term, or a pattern rule.

Which One Doesn't Belong?

Comparing and contrasting is one of Robert Marzano's high yield instructional strategies. (R. Marzano, Classroom Instruction that Works, 2001).

101 Questions

Engage students in thoughtful questioning using videos and images. Discuss which questions are accessible given current math knowledge ("math toolkit").


Activities that engage students in the foundational elements of observing, problem solving, reasoning, as well as developing computational fluency.

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