5 Symptoms That You’re Teaching Math Wrong

teaching-math-wrong5 Symptoms That You’re Teaching Math Wrong: Math Class Needs A Makeover

Early on In his excellent TED talk, “Math Needs A Makeover,” Dan Meyer offers 5 signs you’re teaching math badly.

1. A lack of initiative

2. A lack of perseverance

3. Lack of retention

4. Aversion to word problems

5. Eagerness for formula

To be honest, this can apply to almost any content area. Teaching ELA badly? Students will likely “lack retention.” Probably want “formulas” (in the form of acronyms, fill-in-the-blank graphic organizers, and other crutches/scaffolds). But since he’s a math guy, he offers up some interesting ideas for how a misunderstanding of what math is makes students think they hate it.

The talk is much broader in scope than that, but if you’re short on time, it’s a great takeaway. Continuing, Meyer argues for, first and foremost, a new way of thinking about math, calling it the “vocabulary for your own intuition.” He offers tips for promoting a can-do mindset in students in regards to math, including using multimedia, asking the “shortest question you can,” and “letting the students build the problem.”

The rest of the video can be seen below.

5 Symptoms That You’re Teaching Math Wrong: Math Class Needs A Makeover; image attribution flickr user dylnanng

Project-Based Learning

What Project-Based Learning Looks Like In Math

vancouverfilmschool-mathProject-Based Learning in Math: 6 Examples

by Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer at Curriki

I wish geometry was taught in this way when I was in school.

Curriki’s new Project-based Learning (PBL) high school Geometry course is now available. For so many students, it’s difficult to make a real-life connection between math and their everyday lives. By adopting a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach, students learn that geometry is not only theoretical, but practical and necessary. Students will move beyond a basic understanding of concepts to an enjoyment of discovery. 

This free Geometry course not only leverages the popular PBL “active” approach but is also aligned to Common Core State Standards. Thom Markham, Ph.D., President of PBL International, is the designer of the course. He notes that Project-Based Learning points us toward the future of education. “It’s a proven method for integrating the 21st century skills of communication and teamwork into the delivery of core subjects.”

Available online at the Curriki site, Curriki Geometry is designed to meet the needs of students raised in a global, interactive, digitally-connected world through the use of real-world examples, engaging projects, interactive technologies, videos and targeted feedback. Developed with funding from AT&T, the Curriki Geometry course is modular, so can be used as the foundation for students’ Geometry 1 curriculum, as a supplementary resource, in an after-school program, or in a homeschool environment.

The course units have been designed with carefully selected Curriki instructional materials, interactive content, videos and other materials that students can explore and use as they solve the series of challenges in each unit. The course structure is based on the six Common Core High School Geometry topics, organized in six projects:

Project-Based Learning in Math: 6 Examples

1. Selling Geometry

This project introduces students to a brief history of geometry, geometric terms, geometric shapes, and transformation and manipulation of shapes through reflections, tessellations, and dilations. Students will form marketing teams to “sell” geometry by explaining key terms, demonstrating key shapes, and describing the significance of geometry to an audience

2. Designing a Winner

This project allows students to apply the geometric principles of triangles, volume, and coordinates to the mapping and design of a multi-purpose arena in a limited area. The arena must serve as a venue that can be easily converted for use by two sports, plus serve as a concert venue if needed. Students will form design teams to create a map showing how the arena can be converted for the two sports. The map will be accompanied by a hand-built model or a digital design using Google SketchUp or other tool. In the final presentations, the map and design ideas will be presented to the local City Council.

3. What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?

One real-world task students must learn is the ability to explain what you know to others. The challenge in this project is for older students to find common examples of right-angle geometry and use their geometric knowledge to create a lesson that explains Pythagorean principles to younger students in a way that is engaging, understandable, meaningful, and relevant.

4. TED Talk: House of the Future

The challenge in this project is for students to examine trends in housing, extrapolate that information to predict the future, and use their geometric modeling skills to design a house that supports their predictions. Students will create a floor plan and basic model of a house of the future that reflects four trends and then deliver their design and give evidence of their thinking in the form of a 10 minute presentation about why their house will be necessary and useful in the future. The format for the talk can vary, but it is suggested that the presentation follow the guidelines for a TED-like talk in which presenters give short presentations that focus on the future and innovation

5. The Art of Triangles

This project teaches students the basics of triangles, such as types, congruence, proofs, and similarity, by asking each student to create a poster, drawing, or personal adornment such as a fingernail design, piece of jewelry, or tattoo that uses at least two different triangular shapes. The product must meet the criteria for ‘beautiful’—that is, it must display symmetry or other design elements that make it attractive.

6. How Random is My Life?

This project is designed to have students work through and master basic problems in probability, and then apply that knowledge to authentic issues in which statistics and probability play large roles. The topics should apply to teen interests and concerns. Students will be given the opportunity to research and choose their topic. However, topics may also be assigned by the teacher in one of four areas:

1. Driving and cell phone use
2. Diet and health
3. Professional athletics
4. Costs associated with a college education

After researching the issue, students are expected to explain how probability affects their lives in each of these areas, and to make recommendations to other teens on actions that can improve their chances of making good decisions on each issue

The Common Core Math Practice Standards are woven through each unit, with projects and explorations designed to develop students’ mathematical “habits of mind”, problem-solving and reasoning skills, and abilities to use mathematical models and technology tools strategically.

Project-Based Learning in Math: 6 Examples; image attribution flickr user vancouverfilmschool


36 Math Apps For Elementary School Students

by edshelf: Reviews & recommendations of tools for education

As more classrooms adopt mobile devices such as iPads, teachers and technology integrators are faced with the question: “What apps do I install?”

That is quite a hefty question too. There are over 90,000 iOS apps in the Education category of the App Store. Since apps that teachers can use fall into other categories too, the number of choices is well above 100,000. Does your head hurt yet?

Fortunately, there are intrepid technology enthusiasts – like Chris Beyerle – who actively curate collections of apps. A South Carolina math and engineering teacher, Mr. Beyerle has put together this collection of math apps for elementary school students.

Which math apps do you use?

36 Math Apps for Elementary School Students From edshelf

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Image attribution flickr user barrettelementary


25 Common Core-Aligned Math Apps For Middle School Students

by edshelf: Reviews & recommendations of tools for education

Not all educational apps are created equal. Some are more fun than others. Some are more pedagogically sound than others. And some are better for certain age groups than others.

In the App Store, it is difficult to find out which apps are best for a particular age group, like, say, middle school students. Fortunately, technologists like South Carolina math and engineering teacher Chris Beyerle actively curate collections of apps. Here is his collection of math apps that are appropriate for middle school students. They all fit within the Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practices as well.

Which math apps do you use?

25 Common Core-Aligned Math Apps for Middle School Students From edshelf

NOTE: Chris has added more tools to this collection since this article was published. The latest tools are reflected below.

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Image attribution flickr user kjarrett


25 Math Apps Parents Can Give to Their Kids

by edshelf: Reviews & recommendations of tools for education

For many of you, school is out and summer is here. Yah!

But that also means summer learning loss. Boo.

According to Dr. Ruth Peters, “students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.” Yikes. And “all students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.”

To prevent that from happening, Glenda Stewart-Smith of Surrey School District #36 in Canada put together this collection of iPhone and iPad apps to cover all kinds of mathematical concepts in fun and engaging ways. It’s perfect for going on the road and keeping your little ones busy and learning.

If you are an educator, pass these along to your students’ parents. If you are a parent, check these apps out.

What apps would you recommend to parents?

25 Math Apps Parents Can Give to Their Kids From edshelf

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Image attribution flickr user thedigitelmyr


17 Measurement Apps For Math And Science

by edshelf: Reviews & recommendations of tools for education

If you teach math or science, you will likely find yourself asking your students to take out their rulers, compasses, protractors, thermometers, altimeters, and other measuring devices. Being able to see with a ruler and a protractor how a triangle with two equal sides really does have two equal angles can be powerful.

Glenda Stewart-Smith of Surrey School District #36 in Canada put together this collection of iPhone and iPad apps that offer all of these measuring abilities and more.

What apps do you use for taking measurements?

17 Measurement Apps for Math and Science Lessons From edshelf

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Image attribution flickr user Jamiesrabbits


Everything You’d Ever Want From Math Rap: All I Do Is Solve


Math rap, as a genre, is amazing. Reminiscent of the ‘stay in school‘” videos that attempt to legitimize school lunch using the street cred of hip-hop, math rap videos have found a life of their own, and the “All I Do Is Solve” is a recent entry in that category.

A problem with these videos is that they depend on said ‘street cred’ and pop-rap (as opposed to hip-hop) tends to age about as well as celery so a cool video from eight months ago is not so cool anymore. But then again, as soon as graph paper and linear equations were added the whole thing ‘cool’ went right out the window, so forget I said anything and fire the video up.

As far as math rap goes, it has it all:

Popular song? Check.

Forced Math content? Check.

Awkward teachers embarrassing themselves for the good of student learning? Check. (Actually, they’re surprisingly good. It’s terrible and/but we love it!)

You can find the video here if the embed below is broken.


A Really, Really Cool Website For Students Who Think They Hate Math


The best resource for a student that thinks they hate math is a great teacher.

But what about the best resource for that teacher? Beyond an active imagination, ability to relate to students, and an incredibly strong content knowledge themselves, it may not get much better than Numberphile .

While the site is simple a crudely interactive graphic with links to videos, it has, in one fell swoop, creatively curated some of the most compelling and engaging “problems” in mathematics. From Benford’s Law to French Numbers, to whether or not zero is an even number, it frames the content area of math–which is often riddled with rote practice of very traditional arithmetic and formulas–in a problem-based learning kind of approach.

Fantastic resource for bell ringers, test questions, math project-based learning ideas, or as a model for students to curate their own curiosities about the incredible–and poorly marketed–world of mathematics.

It’s also, incidentally, a YouTube channel as well, from which we’ve taken a sample video below.


The Best Response Ever To “Show Your Work” In Math [Image]



This is, by far, the best example we’ve seen for the request to “show your work” in math.

If you’ve got one better, let us know on our facebook page.