Zero on the Rounding Roller Coaster and my Growth Mindset Moment

Rounding roller coaster in a 5th grade math word wall

This past week I had to do a fair amount of pride-swallowing to hear some critical feedback. This often seems to happen when I post on Facebook!

This time it was about this seemingly innocuous rounding roller coaster in my 5th grade math word wall. I left out the zero on purpose. After all, 1.70 is the same as 1.7, right? So we're not really rounding it. Right? 

Effective Frequency: Do we teach Slope too much?

One of the hardest high school math topics I teach in Algebra 2 is slope. I know what you're thinking-- slope is not an Algebra 2 topic. This is exactly what makes it so hard.

I have this theory, and you can disagree with me in the comments. My theory is that slope is so hard to teach because the word is so familiar. My students may see it first in 8th grade, then definitely in 9th grade, then again as a review in 10th grade before the state test. By the time they get to me in 11th grade, eyes are glaze over at the mere mention of the word. But very few have really mastered the topic.

So why is retention so low? My belief is that slope is either introduced too early before students are ready, and/or too little time is spent on the topic the first time it is introduced. 

This video is about an advertising strategy called "Effective Frequency". When I saw it, I immediately thought about my students. "Sales" is buy-in. "Potential prospects" are our students. 'Advertising" is teaching. "Conversion" is learning. Sometimes I feel like the idea of working hard, completing work, and that school is important is a hard sell. In this way, this video applies directly to teaching. Is slope overexposed? After the 3rd time students see it, is it too late?

Years ago when doing research on negative numbers for my thesis, I came across an eye-opening article from William Schmidt, Richard Houang, and Leland Cogan titled A Coherent Curriculum, The Case of Mathematics. In this article, the number of topics covered per year in the United States is compared to the number of topics covered per year in those A+ countries that the US is always pointing to with a, "Our math scores need to be more like theirs." SIDE NOTE: I wish we would celebrate all the good things about our students rather than focusing on what makes them less than kids in other countries. But that's for another day.

William Schmidt, Richard Houang, and Leland Cogan, A Coherent Curriculum, The Case of Mathematics

Above is a screenshot of the graphic included in the article that shows the progression of topics in A+ countries in grades 1 through 8. Only a few topics are covered each year, allowing teachers and students to get deep into these topics.

William Schmidt, Richard Houang, and Leland Cogan, A Coherent Curriculum, The Case of Mathematics

And here is the graphic from the United States. To be blunt, we're all over the place. Many topics are taught every single year, at least in the grades shown. 

How may times have you said to yourself, "I wish I had more time to spend on this topic because my kids ALMOST get it"? I know I have said it a lot. Do you think student understanding and retention would improve year-to-year if we were allowed this time when first introducing topics?  

Teaching Students the Pitfalls of Simple Interest Loans

Simple interest loans sound so, well, simple. But teens need to know what to look out for when deciding on the terms of their car loan. Here is an extreme video I found where a woman gets completely ripped off by a simple interest car loan:

Secondary Math $1 Deals! - Summer 2017

Happy Summer! We know you're probably already at the beach living fabulously, but if you are around a computer and happen to be looking for some deals on math resources, you'll find them here!

This is our second annual July Dollar Deals and we're psyched about kicking off the fun on Tuesday the 4th of July! Also, if there is a topic or specific resource you'd like, we'd love your suggestion in the comments below.

There are 3 ways to find the $1 sale resources: 

1: Right here on this post each Tuesday in July,
3: By clicking #mathdollardeals to go right to the sale resources.

UPDATE (7/26/17):
THANK YOU for participating in another fun #mathdollardeals! By subscribing to blog updates you will get the first word about our next $1 sale. We hope you have a great summer and amazing start to your school year!

$1 Tuesday July 4, 2017

$1 Tuesday July 11, 2017

$1 Tuesday July 18, 2017

$1 Tuesday July 25, 2017

Guest Post: 10 Reasons I LOVE Interactive Notebooks

Long before I started blogging, I followed the blog of super teacher Mrs. E Teaches Math. Her posts were always straight to the point with meaningful information I could bring right back to my classroom (like this post on favorite websites for math teachers). Little did I know that someday she'd be guest blogging for me and that I could call her a friend. So without further introduction, here are 10 reasons Mrs. E loves interactive notebooks!