“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” By Winston Churchill

I learned about Wizenworld via Twitter. Wizenworld asked me to try out their game based math learning platform for students and this is my review. This short video will give you a quick back ground on what Wizenworld is:

Once I created an account, Wizenworld walks you through a quick tutorial. This tutorial is great as you don’t need to teach the students how to use the product. It also explains your mission is to defeat goons and free the Meings. There are six different environments with different meings in each.

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I soon began my math adventure by choosing the domain (fractions)  then a strand (recognizing fractions). The first game I tried immediately reminded me of  old school Zelda but as I continued to try all the games, I noticed they were all different. I liked that the games have students apply the concepts using manipulatives such as number lines or pictures. This is a great way for students that are taking online assessments to practice in a fun way.

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The games are engaging, adaptive and fun. There is formative analysis on class and student level that provides actionable data for teachers and students. They are in beta so they are looking for feedback on how they can improve. I sent in feedback about aligning standards to Common Core and they are working on it. I would love to know your thoughts if you try this in your classroom.

Utilizing Mathigon Site in the Classroom

“Math is like going to the gym for your brain. It sharpens your mind.” By Danica McKellar


Mathigon is a new STEM website that consists of interactive eBooks, videos, slideshows and animations, with the aim of making advanced mathematics more accessible, entertaining and applies real world application. This website is FREE, works on all devices and has a Chrome App extension and can be made into an iOS App (by saving to home screen). Follow them on TwitterFacebook and Google Plus.

You can choose from a variety of activities, lesson plans and slideshows that have been designed specifically for the classroom. This site is created out of the UK but meets many Common Core Math Standards,  Math Practices and NC Science Essential Standards.

One of my favorites is the ebook,  “World of Mathematics” which was also 2013 Lovie Awards Gold Winner. It is a great, engaging way to add non-fiction text, class discussions and writing tasks into the math or science classroom. Another favorite activity, that the students also love, is the Math Treasure Hunt (Middle of Page).

“This essay (The Value of Mathematics PDF) explores the practical, intellectual and cultural value of teaching mathematics at school, examining a wide range of research and with many examples.”

Mathigon is still being developed but many of the activities to coming soon look very promising such as Mathemagic, Carnival of Mathematics and more ‘chapters’ in the ebook called Motion and Matter.  I would love to hear what you think of this new site and how you will incorporate it into your classroom.

Work Sited: About Us – Mathigon | About.” 2012. 4 Jan. 2014 http://www.mathigon.org/about


Bridging Coding and Common Core with Tynker

“Research shows that you begin learning in the womb and go right on learning until the moment you pass on. Your brain has a capacity for learning that is virtually limitless, which makes every human a potential genius.” by  Michael J. Gelb

Tynker is a great new  FREE web tool designed to teach students computational thinking and coding skills. It is similar to Scratch but you don’t need to download and it works on multiple browsers which is great for schools that are bring your own technology (BYOT). It is easy to set up a class and only takes minutes.

What I like most about Tynker is it balances the left and right side of the brain while using 21st century skills. The students have to critically think about the challenge that you give them, collaborate with others and create using coding skills. Below you can see a screen shot of what is shown in Tynker once you have completed one. My challenge to myself,  so I could help learn coding, was to have at least 1 actor, 2 costume changes and a background.


You can give your students challenges that are similar or you can have them use certain coding blocks such as you must have 2 ‘if, then’ statements or you must use 1 coordinate grid code. You can also have them use different coding block themes for a challenge such as 3 events, 1 flow, 2 motions, 2 stage changes. You can also use it to help differentiate because you can assign different challenges to different students.

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Below the students challenge was a little different, the students had to reinvent the game ‘Pong’ so they could play it. There is a backpack button in the top right corner that also lets you store coding blocks so you can ‘favorite’ ones you like to use a lot or if you want to ‘steal’ someone else’s coding block to learn how to do it, you can. The possibilities are endless with Tynker and the students are having fun, problem solving and using many of the common core skills such as computation, angles, coordinate grids, physics, digital story telling, cause and effect and if, then statements and much more.

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You can create lesson plans inside Tynker along with using ones that are already created for you. You can also view other’s Tynler projects to gain ideas about how you want to use it in your classroom. When visiting schools recently, I have watched 3rd graders recreate the ‘mouse trap’ game. Fifth graders created interactive ebooks that explained force and motion. While in a 6th grade classroom, their challenge was to create a 1 min screen that had to sync 5 actors with music to the Harlem Shake.

Here you can see how Common Core 3.NBT is met with this project that is in the lesson plan section.


I would love to hear how other educators are using Tynker in the classroom. Please share in the comment section. Below are some other articles about Tynker that have been in the news that also have great examples of how it can be used in the classroom.

Code Alert: Tynker Wants to Teach Your Child to Tinker With Tech

From Animated Animals to Algorithmic Art

Check Out This Learn-To-Code Platform Just for Kids

RTI and Math

“If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns” – Rita Dunn

Over the past few weeks I have been working on making our Response to Intervention (RTI- except in NC – RTI refers to Responsiveness to Instruction) process smoother for Math. In reading, there are many researched based baselines, progress monitoring tools and interventions we use often in classroom such as Fountas and Pinnell but there is not as much for Math.

Our biggest obstacle was getting teachers to breakdown where the student was going wrong in their math. Many times they would say problem solving. Before we can say it is problem solving we need to make sure it is not other target skills that are hindering the child such as computation. Many times when we went back and analyzed the students work, there was a different target skill the student really needed such as number sense or reading comprehension.

I decided we needed a graphic organizer to help us with the RTI process in Math. I took the idea from Jennifer Jones Blog, Hello Literacy, RTI “If, Then Menu” she did for reading.

Here is our “If, Then Menu” for math. If_Then_Intevention_menu_JV_WASHAM_Math

Below are books and websites we have used for baselines, progress monitoring and interventions that are all research based.











 Math in Plain English (Literacy Strategies for the Mathematics Classroom) Amy Benjamin

My Kids Can-Making Math Accessible to All Learners

Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway

Kathy Richardson Books

I would love to know any resources you have found helpful for RTI and Math to help make our resource guide even better.

My Favorite Math Common Core Resources

“If we use these common standards as the foundation for better schools, we can give all kids a robust curriculum taught by well-­‐prepared, well-­‐supported teachers who can help prepare them for success in college, life and careers.” By Randi Weingarten

There are a lot of great resources out there for Common Core but then there are sites/resources that slap on the label ‘Common Core” and they do not align.

Part of my job as a facilitator is to help our teachers understand and implement the Common Core correctly.  In order to help some of our teachers, I go through websites and blogs and weed out the ‘not so good’ and give teachers a list of sites that are worth taking the time to explore deeper. Below is my collection of FREE sites and blogs that I have ‘deemed’ as worthwhile and of quality that support the standards through lessons, performance tasks, strategies and other resources.  (In no particular order)

Illustrative Mathematics

The Teaching Channel

Share My Lesson

Educational Aspirations 

The Curriculum Corner

Engaging Educators

Technology Integration for Math Engagement

Edu Tech Wiki

XP Math


Read Tennessee Math (K-3 only)

Mastery Connect


I would love to learn any Math Common Core Sites that you have found beneficial. Please tell us about them in the comments section. I also created a Common Core Resource Page on my wiki, that I will update with what I find.

Why Math Notebooking is Important in the Classroom

“Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.” By Carl Sandburg

I have always used math notebooks in my classroom and this year one of my goals is to try  to get our teachers (in all grade levels) at my school to realize the importance of them in the classroom. To me a math notebook is a place in which students record their math work, thinking and reasoning. I tell my students that their parents should be able to pick up their math notebook and know everything they did in class that day. Here is why I think math notebooking is important in the classroom:

1. We need to teach students how to organize information and notebooking makes this easy. Modeling in the beginning of the year with your students and setting high expectations is key. I made my students date every lesson and give it a title based on our objective for the date; it is how we started every math lesson. With a rubric you can grade these weekly as a classwork grade and the student always know what is expected of them. Here is the rubric I use: Math Notebook Rubric

2. I think notebooking, no matter what subject, is an important 21st century skill. (See previous post on science notebooking) When students are using math notebooks they have to communicate/articulate what they are learning. This makes the students critically think more about the why behind math and not just the process, which is what the common core is all about.

3. Math Notebooks embrace all 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice  of the Common Core, which helps prepare students to be math practitioners along with getting the students college and career ready. Vocabulary is also an important piece of the  Common Core; having students keep vocabulary in their math notebooks is essential for helping students understand math concepts.

4.  Integrating writing in the content area is important. Students reflecting through journal prompts is a great way to do this. Many of my exit slips, I also called it writing out of math, were based on journal prompts where the student had to reflect on their work. For example, how did todays math lesson connect to the real world? Explain. Or When it comes to math I find it difficult to…. This always helped me as the teacher see if my lessons were successful according to the students and  also what I needed to review based on their needs.

5. Math Notebooking is great for all learners because they should not be just about notes from the teacher but also conclusions the students draw that help them learn. For example: The students that are visual learner can draw pictures to help them understand the math concept or students that are musical can write songs/raps etc.

Math notebooks are going to look different in every grade level. In Kindergarten they can be writing story problems using pictures and words such as 5 apples + 2 apples = 8 apples, with a picture representation of their thinking. Where in 5th grade they would also be using words and pictures to represent their thinking but it would be in paragraph form.

I would love to hear why others think math notebooking is important or if you have any ideas to add. If you are not notebooking in your classroom, I hope you try it this year and see the difference in your students learning and understanding.

Resources for Avoiding the Math Summer Slide

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.  ~Chinese Proverb

The “summer slide” is what happens when students minds sit idle for three months while on summer vacation.  Many parents do not realize how much educational ground their children could lose during the three-month break. Many parents make their children read over the summer when they go to the pool or beach but they often forget about math. Math skills decline more over the summer than any other academic skill, according to researchers from Duke University. Some students lose up to 3 months of learning.

What as educators can we do?We can inform the parents about the ‘summer slide’ so they are also aware that students need to be working on academic skills all summer.

Educators can easily get the word out about what the summer slide is and how to avoid it by sending it home with the students in their last report cards, in a newsletter, email. Or teachers can also post the information on their website, Facebook/Twitter page etc. Here are 8 resources educators can give parents to help avoid the math summer slide….

1. Read math stories- Kill two birds with one stone and combine math with reading to improve both numeracy and literacy skills. Try this website for some math books to try.   http://bit.ly/9MXY3E

2. Connect math to the real world- Ex. Have your child add items at the grocery store. Such as apples are $3.99 a bag, about how much will two bags cost us?

3. Play Traveling Math Games- such as guess my number or gas prices rounding. It’s almost a guarantee that while you are driving you will run into some type of gas station. When you do, have your children round the prices to the nearest number of your choice. For example, you drive by and it’s $2.41 per gallon, have them round to the nearest tenth.

4. Cook Together- There is lots of measuring and fractions in cooking! Have your child measure a cup and see how many ounces are in it.

5. Games- Play these classic board/card games with the whole family to add math into your summer:

– Bingo or War for K to identify numbers.

– Life, Monopoly or Payday for students 3rd grade and up to work on adding and subtracting money.

– Battleship for students in 4th and 5th grade to work on coordinate points.

– Chess, Clue  or Checkers for strategy and problem solving in grades 1st and up.

Don’t forget games such as Sudoko, 24 or many card cards such as Go Fish.

6. Websites: Try playing these games on the internet for virtual math fun.


7. Apps- Download these free Apps to keep your math skills sharp:

– Adding Apples: This app lets students practice adding using apples as manipulatives while earning coins for trophies.

– Coop Fractions: This app has multiple fraction games that kids can use to practice their fraction skills.  The students love that the chickens ‘poop’ eggs, which are the fractions.

– Virtual Manipulatives: This app focus is on fraction, decimals and percent manipulatives. It gives a visual tool to allow students to see how different math measurements are equivalent, allows students to write and allows you to even email your answers to others.

– Square 9 Lite: This app practices facts (adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing). It is a great way to practice facts without flashcards! Bet the timer and move up levels of difficulty.

8. Journal or Blog: Have student write about their summer academic fun in any subject area to also practice writing in content area. This will also help the student reflect on the subject area after they have had the experience.


More Math Reasoning Needs to be in Elementary School

“Mathematical reasoning is essentially about development, justification and use of mathematical generalizations.” Jo Russell

Many teachers come to me for advice about teaching students to problem solve. I know that having a strategy is helpful for many students, but I also think it comes down to reasoning skills as well. I think mathematical reasoning is one of the biggest over looked skill taught in math. We need to start teaching more logic and reasoning in elementary schools so when the students start algebra, it makes more sense to them because they have a stronger background. This will eventually help students with problem solving as it will build critical thinking skills a vital 21st century skill.

There are two types of reasoning, deductive and inductive, that we need to teach. Many teachers don’t realize the importance of these math reasoning skills. Below I explain why!

Inductive reasoning involves going from a series of specific cases to a general statement. I like to relate inductive reasoning to a series of pictures and you have to figure out which on is the odd one out and why. We need to start teaching this type of reasoning in Kindergarten. Having the students look at four pictures and then asking them which picture does not belong, helps with inductive skills. In first, the teacher can do the same but this time asking the students what the ‘rule’ is about the pictures. Each year you add a different and harder element to inductive reasoning so by the time they are in the upper grades, they can figure out why a rectangle can not be a rhombus.

Deductive reasoning is a type of logic in which one goes from a general statement to a specific instance. I relate deductive reasoning to the game clue. When I am teaching reasoning, I like to start off teaching with Abbott and Castello Video- Who’s on First? (http://ow.ly/90Zhd) I have the students draw a picture of a baseball diamond in their notebooks, modeled after the one I have on the board. I then tell the students to just listen to the video, many of the students don’t even know who Abbott and Castello are so it is a great time to bring in a little history! After they listen to it once, I tell them to listen to it again and fill in the positions of the baseball team they are talking about. This is a great way to introduce reasoning and logic in grades 3 and up. The students don’t relate it to a math lesson right away because it doesn’t have numbers in it, yet they are still solving a problem.

You can find logic and reasoning throughout the Math Standards of Practice for the Common Core under….

#1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

#3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

#6. Attend to precision.

#8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

To view all the Math Standards of Practice (with more detail description) and the Math Common Core click here. http://www.corestandards.org