Sunday, May 15, 2016

Math Circles - Family Math Tasks

My fourth grader received a math worksheet last week that I fell in love with.  I'm a true believer that learning math facts should be fun and not a task that is focused only on memorization and speed.  Learning any math concept should be focused on numbers and how they work together.  The more you can get students to THINK about numbers, the better they will understand mathematics.

The point of "math circles" is to create a math fact using the numbers in the circle.  Each number may only be used once.

Here's an example of a math circle.

The math fact is 8 x 9 = 72 or 9 x 8 = 72.  You also could see it as a division fact: 72 / 9 = 8 or 72 / 8 = 9.

There are SO many variations of math facts you can create within these circles.  You could do addition and subtraction for younger students.  You could use exponents.  You could even create fraction facts.  The possibilities are endless!!

I love anything that gets kids thinking about math.  Even my fourth grader, who usually doesn't enjoy math, loved doing these math circles.

I've included a blank sheet below for you to download and create your own Math Circles.  I've also included a sheet I made as an example.

If you have any ideas of other ways to use these Math Circles, please share them with me.  Have fun doing some Math Circles with your kids!!


Friday, April 29, 2016

All Around Us - Family Math Task

As parents we play a huge role in helping our kids develop a positive attitude toward mathematics.  To help you do that, I'm going to share some math tasks you can complete as a family.  Here is the first math task for you to enjoy.  It is called "All Around Us" and involves using common household items to measure around each family member's body.  In my last blog post (HERE), read about my mission to help all kids and parents enjoy using numbers and learning that we are all "math people."

Download the All Around Us activity sheet by clicking the picture below.  If you are an elementary teacher, please feel free to download and share this activity with parents.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Family Math Tasks

Being a former math teacher, I often heard from parents how they didn't like math and felt like they weren't good at math.  I still hear from many adults that they aren't a "math person."  It is my mission to convince people that we are all math people.  We all use math everyday.  Without math, we could not survive.  Math impacts every part of our lives.  We just have to know how to recognize it.

Oklahoma just adopted new mathematics standards.  Within those standards are seven Mathematical Actions and Processes.  One of those states that "throughout their Pk-12 education experience, mathematically literate students will develop a productive mathematical disposition."  What is a productive mathematical disposition?  The standard document describes it as a "belief that mathematics is sensible, useful and worthwhile."

Parents, like myself, play a big role in helping their children develop these positive beliefs about math.  There are many ways to give kids positive experiences with numbers, which will help them build their confidence with math concepts.  I hope to use this blog to share some of these ways.  As often as I can, I will post a "Family Math Task" to complete with your kids.  Please join my family as we explore mathematics through these fun tasks.  My children are six and ten, so the tasks are going to be geared towards elementary-age kids.  This is the best time to develop a productive mathematical disposition, while also spending valuable family time together.

Here's a sneak peak at the first family math task I'm going to share.  It's called "All Around Us" and involves using common household items to measure around each family member's body.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Use Tellagami to Create Student Book Reviews

This morning my six and ten year old daughters and I used an iPad app called Tellagami to create two book reviews.  It only took about 15 minutes per video for the girls to write their short script, create their avatar, and record the video.  They had a great time and can't wait to read another book and create new reviews.  I love any tool that gets them excited to learn.

Tellagami is a free app, but has additional features for a fee.  There is also an Tellagami Edu version that is $4.99 and gives you all the features without having to be bothered with the in-app purchases of the free version.

There are an endless number of ideas for using Tellagami in the classroom.  One idea I saw on Twitter is to have your students create book reviews for the books in your classroom library.  Students can watch these reviews before they choose a book to read.

Below is the Book Review playlist from my YouTube channel.  I will upload my daughters' book review videos as they create more in the coming months.  In the comments of this post, please share your ideas for using Tellagami in your classroom.

Friday, February 12, 2016

PD Resources from Google Hangouts

If you would like to access the Pinterest resources being shared during the "Share Your Best Math Pins" Google Hangouts, click the links to the Google Docs below.  I will add a Google Doc for each Hangout as it occurs.

On Tuesday, February 16, we will share elementary (3-5 grade) math pins; on Tuesday, March 1, we will share middle school (6-8 grade) math pins; and on Tuesday, March 8, we will share high school math pins.  Each Hangout is at 8:00 pm.

If you would like to join us, please send me an email at, or join our event on Facebook:

Elementary Facebook Event:

Middle School FacebookEvent:

High School Facebook Event:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Your Chance to Share Favorite Math Pins from Pinterest

I love Pinterest.  It connects me to an endless number of ideas for helping math teachers make math content more meaningful.  I know that many educators say Pinterest is a library of weak and shallow attempts at teaching content.  There is some truth to that statement.  Just like some textbooks contain weak and shallow attempts at teaching content.  Just like some lesson plans contain weak and shallow attempts at teaching content.  You see where I'm going...any activity, book, lesson plan, or blog post has the potential of being weak and shallow.  However, Pinterest is one of the largest libraries of educational content on the web, and like any instructional resource, teachers have to carefully inspect an idea on Pinterest to determine if it helps accomplish the learning goals for their students.

In my experience, there is no other website containing so many ideas about teaching math, and for that reason, I keep returning to browse pins everyday.  As I was browsing last weekend, I had an idea of hosting a Google Hangout for teachers to share their favorite math pins.  I have a lot of teacher friends, and most of them are fellow Pinterest addicts.  If you would like to join us for an hour of sharing great ideas, please join one or all of the scheduled Google Hangouts.  I've planned a sharing session for early childhood, elementary, middle school, and high school teachers on separate Tuesday nights.  See the schedule below for the dates and time.

If you would like to download this flyer to hang in your teacher's lounge or to give a friend, you may do so at this link:

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Challenge to Build Your PLN

I'm halfway through my 19th year as an Oklahoma educator.  When I started teaching at a very small K-12 school in Osage County in 1997, the internet was just beginning to make its way into classrooms across the country.  I never dreamed then that there would be a day that I could access an endless number of teachers from around the world to help me become better at my craft.

For me, professional development at that time was just "sit and get."  Sadly, I see that hasn't changed in a lot of schools today.  Many teachers I work with see professional development as something to dread and "get through," and there isn't much change in their practice after attending many hours of professional development.  They see PD as required and planned by administrators, or professionals who aren't in a classroom and can't possibly relate to the struggles they encounter day to day.  They don't feel like they control any part of their professional learning.  Part of that is true, but most of it is not.

With widespread access to the internet, anywhere/anytime, teachers can participate in high quality professional development and peer connections at the press of their finger.  Twitter, Facebook, Voxer, blogs, and websites are bursting with opportunities to learn how to become a more effective teacher.

If you are disconnected with the exciting things that are happening on the world wide web in the area of education, I challenge you in 2016 to get connected.  Build a PLN (Professional Learning Network) of teachers with whom you can communicate, share, and learn.

Through this PLN you will discover great professional development opportunities, such as EdCamps, book studies, Twitter chats, Facebook groups and discussions, information blogs, resource libraries, and more.  Throughout the year, I will post specific ways you can expand your PLN and opportunities to participate in beneficial professional development.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to build a PLN is through Twitter.  If you don't have an account, or need a quick tutorial on how to use Twitter, here's a YouTube video:

You can click on the "Follow" button on the Twitter feed to the right of my blog to follow my tweets.  You may also check out my Twitter list, Educator PLN, to find other teachers to follow.  This is a great place to start building your PLN.

On Monday, January 4, I'm leading a professional development at Anderson Elementary.  I'm going to share with teachers the importance of building a PLN.  If you are already on Twitter and want to help these teachers build their PLN, please leave a comment below with your Twitter handle.  I'm going to share this post and hope to have several comments to enhance the teachers' journey of professional growth.  I also want to show them the power of social media and how quickly we have expert advice and support at our fingertips in 2016.

Make this a year that you are going to grow as an educator by building a PLN that helps you be the best teacher you can.  Please join me by following this blog and pushing me to grow as well.  Happy 2016!