Summer 2017 Book Study-Week1Q2

What are your current experiences and attitudes toward math?


  1. Christina Tondevold Post author

    I do my best to challenge myself in mathematics and try out problems that I normally wouldn’t delve into just so I can expand my understanding of the mathematics. However, there are definitely times that I slip back into my old ways and don’t want to challenge myself….it’s too easy to stay in my old ways!! I think doing mathematics is fun now and even more fun is watching my children as they develop their understandings of mathematics and getting to instill in them the understanding that math is hard & challenging and yet still fun.

  2. Ann Elise

    Underlying all of my work with students, parents, teachers, and assistants is the growth mindset beliefs of Dr. Jo Boaler from Stanford. I am always spreading the message that there is no such thing as a math brain, everyone can learn math, that you don’t need to be fast at math to be good at math, that making mistakes when we challenge ourselves with practicing new ways of thinking is literally how our brains grow, and that our attitudes towards math goes a long way in helping us learn new things. I believe there is a progression of concepts for the whole math journey of a child. We need to find out where they are on the journey and help them get to the next place using concrete, pictorial and then abstract strategies no matter what their age says they ought to be able to do. I was never a visual learner of math concepts, but the more that I have been exposed to visual representations, the more I now think like that. I’ve helped many people pass the praxis Math test by showing them how they can take the complicated-sounding problems and making a model to represent it. I just love watching their eyes light up as they realize that they CAN solve these problems hence building their own confidence. I love knowing that as we teach our young students these things now, we are providing them a foundation of knowledge that will set them up for a positive math journey.

  3. Kelly Andrews

    Although I have never thought of myself as a math scholar, I love teaching math intervention and making the connections I had never made as a student. Since I was taught math procedurally, I am now gaining conceptual understanding for so many of the skills I learned as a student. It has been enlightening learning so many new strategies to attack and solve problems that I was never exposed to in my math education. I am fascinated with all that I am learning and excited to put it to practice so my students have better math intuition and understanding.

    1. Ann Elise

      I, too, find it so exciting as I still learn new things every day! It’s really true that the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn. It’s so exciting!

  4. Marcy Godesa

    I love math! I have made a shift to a full workshop model and it has transformed my classroom. I have also deepened my understanding of number sense and the importance it holds for my learners. I recently became a math studio classroom and have wrapped up my role on our district math cadre which researched and presented our new math adoption.

    1. Ann Elise

      I’m curious what you mean about a math studio classroom. Do you teach math all day or do you teach all subjects? I’d love to hear more about the way you are teaching math now!

  5. Wendy Courter

    I am an elementary math teacher married to a high school math teacher. We love math in our house! I try to share my joy with mathematics with my students. I particularly like problem solving and love to be challenged by problems that require creative thinking and diligence to solve.

    1. Ann Elise

      A perfect match! Over the past many years as I’ve learned more and more about strategies is how powerful they are because they connect and set the foundation for future math learning even in high school. I was in a graduate class a few years ago learning about the area model using base 10 blocks and Cuisenaire rods with basic facts, then multi-digit numbers. Then, while we didn’t touch our blocks, he described how the exact same model was showing a decimal problem and then a polynomial! Once we did division, he put a polynomial on the board and wanted us to divide by x+1. I vividly remember my brain saying, “I’m out now.” I hadn’t done that in 20 years. But, then using the same exact thinking as I did when we divided whole numbers, within 20 seconds I had my quotient and I understood why! I was sold from that moment on!

  6. Heather Girroir

    I want my students to leave my room loving and feeling confident about math. I don’t want them to see it as a separate subject, nor do I ever want them to feel that they are not good at it. I hope that through my hands-on approach (lots of manipulatives and games) that students truly understand concepts and feel the love of numbers.

    1. Ann Elise

      Your students are so very lucky!

    2. Caryn Trautz

      I feel the same way Heather! I tell them that on the first day of school and I also tell the parents at back to school night. I love math and I hope it’s contagious! I’m passionate about finding new ways to break concepts down for my special education students so they can access the same curriculum as their general education peers. I use a lot of manipulatives and have recently begun incorporating games as well.

  7. Lorna Holcombe

    I have found it important to first gauge where students are on their math learning trajectory as well as their view of themselves as mathematicians. As a teacher, I try to leave my students feeling empowered in math by moving from concrete to abstract at a pace that is attainable for them. We relish in success and share success often. I use number talks, number strings, visual representations, games, and word problems daily in our interventions. I also like to assist students in making connections between concepts as well as how the concepts apply to the real world.

    1. Ann Elise

      Your students are so very fortunate!

  8. Beate Pryor

    I enjoy teaching math. I have been working with teachers to create a workshop model in math. I am also working with a cohort of teachers on how to better my practices in math.

    1. Ann Elise

      I, too, went to a workshop model in my 5th grade classroom and it transformed the learning! I loved it! I finally felt like I was meeting all the various needs of all my learners. I’m in a perpetual state of learning!

  9. Megan Purlee

    I love math! My colleagues (and husband) would probably say I am a little too crazy about math right now. 🙂 I just feel like my eyes have been opened to a whole new world in the last few years as I have learned about what truly is math and how it should be taught or “experienced.” The more I learn, the more I want to learn and the more I want to share my new knowledge with everyone I know!

    1. Ann Elise

      I know exactly how you feel!! It’s been 3 years for me in my Math Coaching role and I still feel the same way! I think you’re going to love the running records!

  10. Amy Haaland

    I tutored students from first through seventh grade this year as well as teaching second grade. The majority of my math teaching experience has been in third grade- so tutoring the older kids has been a challenge for me. The thing I have loved most is that I have had to work to understand the math that was only taught to me through formulas and repetition. I see a formula and get huge math anxiety. I have to push the formula away and solve through the means I have been teaching my younger students- asking questions. Things like, what do I know? What does the question ask me? Do I know the parts and need to find the whole, or do I know the whole and a part and need to find the missing part? I am drawing some kind of representation to illustrate all the problems I am solving. It has been fun! It has been extremely helpful to my students in their learning and to me as I continue to modify the way I teach my younger students.

    1. Ann Elise

      I have found the same thing, Amy. I’ve been tutoring adults who need to pass the Math Praxis test and we usually solve a problem on our own and then share our methods. My tutorees usually go to an algebraic solution and then feel uncomforable and not confident. I now go right to visual representations and I find that, while it was not how I was taught, it is how I think now. I feel totally confident and it really makes sense. Once my tutorees see that, they relax and say how much it makes sense to them. I think it is the key to teaching conceptually for all learners, not just those who are visual learners.

  11. Kelly Sickle

    I have been incorporating number talks, daily word problems, and task oriented lessons for my students. It has been truly amazing to see all the students grow in their number sense and their ability to talk about their math. Two days a week, I use the guided math concept, where I have small groups of students while the others work on journaling, Happy Numbers and groups games. Happy Numbers is a great online math program, keeping track of each students’ progress and giving them extra practice when needed. Subitizing, rekenreks, and fluency games are all now a standard in my classroom, as well as in my building. Last year, we started designing a fact fluency progression for the building. This running records will help improving that program. My students don’t work on any math without cubes, ten frames, double sided counters, whiteboards, and other manipulatives.

    1. Ann Elise

      Wow, Kelly! Sounds awesome! I have also seen first-hand the power of the deepening of math understanding as well as improving math dispositions by incorporating all the wonderful things you are doing. I think running records will fit in perfectly!

  12. Wanda Johnson

    My thoughts on mathematics have changed ever since I started teaching math. I was always anxious about teaching math because I struggled with math as a child. However, I took the course with Christina on number sense and have been reading, reading, and reading about the foundation of number sense and how children learn mathematics. Now I have a newfound excitement and purpose for mathematics in the classroom!

    1. Ann Elise

      It is so exciting, isn’t it? The ideas Christina and other educators I’ve learned from make so much sense and will to our students as well. We have such a privilege to be able to provide our students with a foundation of math understanding that we never had….so powerful!

  13. Kristen Kroll

    I LOVE teaching math! There are so many fun ways to experience math! I love providing my students with the opportunities, activities, conversations, manipulatives, and community to explore math.

    1. Ann Elise

      I’m sure your love of teaching math can’t help but be contagious in your classroom. How wonderful!

  14. Rosalba McFadden

    Just like everyone else here I love math. I love teaching it. I love coaching it. I love sharing my enthusiasm for this subject. I’m convinced that enthusiasm spreads!

    1. Ann Elise

      I totally agree! I’m actually a “gregarious introvert” (an expression I heard Christina use at a presentation once!). In social situations I tend to be on the quiet and shy side. BUT you ask me about math and I become this animated person! I can’t help but share my passion for it!

  15. Lisa Mills

    I love numbers and working with numbers. That being said, math can be hard! Helping my kiddos understand what they are doing – and the WHY! is so important. So many times I hear from their parents, “I can’t help them with math. I was never good at math and this “new” way of teaching doesn’t make sense to me!” So clearly kids have been told for a long time (generations?) that only some people get math. Yet we expect all kids to get reading. I was so excited to see the book Guided Math referenced somewhere here on Christina’s site. I have been looking for something like this for a long time! We teach kids where they are at for reading – getting the fundamentals before they can move on. Why don’t we expect that more in math??? I am very lucky to be working with an exceptional 3rd grade teacher next year who already has tried this concept for 2 years now and I can’t wait to see what we do!

    1. Ann Elise

      I know exactly what you mean, Lisa, which is why I’ve held several math information nights for parents. I think it is so important to explain the way we are teaching math now so that they can support us in this journey. I have issues with sending home homework with our “newer” strategies because since the parents aren’t familiar with it, anxiety increases in the home and the children hear those negative statements. In fact, research has shown that parents who don’t like math and help their children with their homework do more damage than good because they pass on those anxieties.

      I’m such a big fan of Dr. Nicki Newton’s work with Guided Math as well as Running Records because since she was a literacy person originally, she has taken that knowledge and applied it to math education. Why didn’t someone think of it sooner? I used the Guided Math format in my 5th grade classroom and it transformed everything!

  16. Jennifer Jensen

    I value you the importance of building students confidence around math. A lot of student come into a classroom with a very procedural understanding of math and have not seen the connections between numbers quite yet. They don’t see the “why” behind what they are doing. I feel it is my job to help them understand , through number sense, that all numbers are connected. Also that math is all around us.

    When I began teaching, I unintentionally avoided problem solving because I felt so lost on how to help students see beyond the words. I was a tips and tricks teacher. Once I learned better, I was able to see how to apply learning to real-life mathematical situations and teach my students how to persevere through problems through visuals and concrete models. Once my students began to develop their conceptual understanding, their problem solving began to improve as well.

    Teaching Math is not easy, but so rewarding!

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Jennifer! I remember when I had my own 5th grade classroom, I set aside a day every couple of weeks to be a problem solving day. When I look back on that, I cringe! Over the last few years, as I’ve learned about all the problem types based on CGI with accompanying visual models, I feel so much more comfortable teaching problem solving. I’ve also worked with several teachers-to-be as they attempt to pass the Math Praxis test. Usually they try to solve problems using algebra, but I tend to go to the visual models now which I takes away any uncertainty that I had and allows me flexibility in the computational piece.

      As I believe Christina once said, “There’s nothing elementary about teaching elementary math!”

  17. Jocelyn Albernaz

    This will be my second year working as a Math Interventionist. Education is my second career. I worked as an Occupational Therapy Assistant for over 15 years. Therefore, I often incorporate hands-on, multi-sensory activities into my sessions. Like many of you, my early math experience involved time tests and memorization of math procedures. This approach was so anxiety-provoking for me as a child! I started following Christina this year- I was looking for ways to engage struggling learners. This statement really resonated with me – “Number Sense is not taught…it is caught.” One of the most challenging parts of my job is incorporating developmentally appropriate number sense activities while following my district’s mathematics curriculum. Definitely not an easy balance!

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Jocelyn! I appreciate how difficult it is to balance both a math curriculum and the number sense activities we know are so important. We use EngageNY in my grade 3-5 building and I do find it goes at such a fast pace that teachers tell me that they don’t have time for Number Talks, 3 Act Tasks, Splat, etc. That’s where the magic is for me!

  18. Carolyn Neill

    Took Christena’s number sense course and love it! I don’t think I could have taught Kindergarten this year without her course! I enjoy math and enjoy teaching it, new to teaching it.

    1. Ann Elise

      Wonderful, Carolyn! I’m sure your enthusiasm is contagious to your kiddos!

  19. Betsy Frates

    We have had a wonderful math coach in our building the last 7 years so he has really worked with us to help teach in a way that makes sense to kids. However, just recently we had been able to work with Kathy Ernst, who has done a lot of work with Kathy Fosnot. This past year has been such an eye opener for us, me. This course came at a perfect time. We have done a lot with subitizing and a few of the activities that have been mentioned but this course is just chock full of great ideas, activities and understandings that make so much sense.

    1. Ann Elise

      I absolutely agree! I find the more I learn, the more I think why didn’t I already know this? Why didn’t my college program prepare me to actually teach children early numeracy? That’s why I’m teaching these things in my math methods classes. I think it is just so important!

  20. Tara Russell

    I have been teaching math to first graders for 29 years. I have always loved math, and prided myself that my students usually say it is their favorite subject. I try to help fellow teachers “catch the bug”, and at the same time empower them by providing relevant resources for their own growth. Christina’s Number Sense 101 Course solidified many of my beliefs and opened my eyes to how to better assist my kiddos and staff along their journey. I still have a lot to learn and am trying my best to soak it all up, which often means falling down the” internet rabbit holes”. I am in awe of all that is available to us in this day and age!

    1. Ann Elise

      So true. I do find the more I learn (and I’m 3 years into just focusing on my math passion) the more I realize I need to learn. That makes this profession so much fun and exciting! I, too, love how the Internet has provided me a whole community of gurus to learn from since for two years I was the only person in my district who was a Math Coach. I found my Twitter PLN was amazing and provides me even more opportunities to learn. Let alone Christina’s and also Dr. Nicki’s webinars! So awesome!

  21. Torri Rankl

    I have just recently, in the past two years, started to love math. I love teaching math! I love talking and learning abut math! I love teaching my own kids math! I have this membership to thank. I feel more comfortable and successful in my teaching of math. I want to learn as much as I can in order to teach my students to also love math.

    1. Ann Elise

      Welcome, Torri! I have met so many teachers who feel like you do and while they didn’t always enjoy teaching math in the past, they now love it! The strategies we are using now just make so much sense, don’t they? Many of my preservice teachers who admitted to hating math have mentioned that if they had learned math like this in the first place, they wouldn’t have developed the hatred of it that they did. So exciting to be a part of the journey for our students!

  22. Rachael Betscha

    As a math coach and I am learning and growing so much. I am always constantly reading a new book or watching a webinar, attending NCTM or other math conference. I hope that through my learning I can help teachers. This past year at my school we focused in on Number Talks. Over this past year I have really tried to adopt a growth mindset as a coach- challenging myself and learning from my mistakes.

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Rachael! I, too, love the growth mindset work of Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler. What a wonderful climate to set in a classroom that encourages taking risks and accepting mistakes as part of the learning process. I also love sharing how being fast at math doesn’t mean that you are good at math. So, so important! I’ve loved my role as math coach as well. The more I learn, the more I realized that I have to learn!

  23. Meredith Tavary

    In my first year in the Elementary school I spent the whole year playing catchup. As I worked with my students I would discover that there were “holes” in their math sense so then I would have to back up and teach a previous skills. I was so frustrated with this because it was causing my students to fall further behind than where I thought they should be and them not reaching their potential. I really like math and I think it’s fun so it was frustrating for me to see them become frustrated with math. So I began learning about math sense. I want to learn the progression of math skills so that I can make sure my students don’t have these “holes” and the next step in math will make sense to them. I have the opportunity to teach math “right” from the beginning and help make it make sense to them. I’m so excited to see the excitement for math in students that have a math learning disability. What a difference it will make!

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Meredith! I have experienced the exact same thing and I agree that it can be so frustrating. My 5th graders especially, who weren’t taught these new strategies from the start, are so behind in their number sense. And the 5th grade curriculum is tough when you expect conceptual understanding. I firmly believe, though, that we have to fill in those gaps or no one else will. It will make a tremendous difference!

  24. Carrie Plank

    I am so excited about the way we approach math instruction now. I was always good at math and I decomposed numbers naturally to help me figure out something I did not know. I thought everyone thought this way too, but now I know otherwise. My experience with the teachers that I work with is that they really want their students to reason through math, but they struggle with it themselves. My job is build them up, so they can do the same for their students. I am excited about the impact these teachers will have on their current and future students, which will impact the future of our country. I have had some awesome professional development as a math specialist. I have learned a lot about the progression that some students follow through different math processes, and I have witnessed them in actual classrooms. I have so much more to learn! Number Talks and focusing on the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice have been a game changer for me and the teachers I coach.

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Carrie! I have also witnessed the power of Number Talks and the focus on mathematical practices and I agree they make a tremendous difference! I have also loved supporting teachers as well as preservice teachers in their own personal math journeys so that they can help their students. While I miss the classroom, our scale of impact as coaches is affecting so many more people. I love it, too!

  25. Prunie Skocelas

    I LOVE math and always have. I feel like I have had a fresh new beginning these last two years, after taking the Number Sense Course. I want what is best for my students. I feel like the programs that our district adopts are just a waste of time and money. I love teaching the students through games, to develop those number sense skills. I have been doing Number Talks this past year, very faithfully, and I am astounded at how much my kids have grown and how they can talk about their thinking, help each other, and work together. I have also done quite a few of the 3 Act Math Tasks with my students this year. I plan to get started on those right at the beginning of the year. I save them for Fridays … the kids LOVE them. Boy, can I really see those math minds develop when doing these tasks. Math has become my kids favorite subject … even those that struggle. After teaching the Math Methods Course for Wayne State University, I feel like I have a better handle of the SMPs. Things are coming together and I feel so good about the way I teach math and the difference it has made in my students. I cannot thank Christina enough for getting me on this path … it only gets better from here!

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Prunie! I totally agree about programs for our math classrooms. I don’t think any of them have all the components that I would like there to be in classrooms like number talks, 3 Act tasks, Splat, etc. I feel like I have a commitment to children and mathematics. The curriculum materials are just resources to help me get them there. The more I have learned about elementary math, the more I know I need to learn. I think it was Christina who said that, “There is nothing elementary about teaching elementary math!”

  26. Davita Fortier

    I loved math until around 8th grade when they started putting letters into my math problems. It seemed like everything fell apart for me at that point and I tried to avoid math at all costs. When I was in college, I still struggled with math but then took a teaching math course with a wonderful teacher, Deborah Stone. She made math come alive and made me excited to teach math. I have worked with many programs as a teacher; Math their Way, Box it/ Bag it, and now Everyday math. I have come to realize there are no perfect programs and that it is up to me as an educator to fill in the gaps and help my students. I still struggle with my personal disposition about math and so I think this is way more important than our districts are thinking. I have been trying to educate myself as much as I can so that I can help my students and help the many young teachers that are joining our staff. I am finding that I really enjoy teaching math but I am frustrated by the constraints and lack of true, helpful assessments we have at our disposal. I am surprised that our new teachers are still coming out of school with very little knowledge on how children learn math. I spent the day at our SAU proposing more PD in math for our district, and I don’t mean PD done by the book companies(ARGH!). I mean meaningful PD that helps our teachers understand number sense and how kids catch it.

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Davida! I couldn’t agree with you more! I have yet to see a math curriculum that does all that I want it to – number talks, CGI problem types, 3 Act tasks, etc. I see them all as a resource that we can pull from, but we need to add so much more. I also think PD is crucial! I love all the resources Christina provides for us to learn at home in our PJs but I know she also would love it if we watch them together at school and be able to discuss all the tremendous impact the ideas have on our classrooms!

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