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A few weeks ago, we shared a new tool for Unifix cubes, the corner cube. This week I wanted to introduce you to something else that’s new in the world of Unifix: the Jumbo Unifix cube. My three-year-old recently got into my box of Unifix cubes and was having a good time building with them, until I handed him the jumbo cubes. His eyes lit up and he immediately went to work with the larger cubes. Bigger than our traditional Unifix cubes, these are perfect for smaller hands in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. They are also popular with special education teachers and occupational therapists for students who are still developing their fine motor skills.Read More
I taught an Algebra 1 or Algebra 2 class every year I was teaching, and I was always looking for ways to make the content engaging for the students. I firmly subscribe to John Van de Walle’s notion that drill and practice are two very different things, and sought opportunities for the students to have meaningful practice with the concepts they were learning. As a result, I avoided the lengthy problem sets and worksheets that are prolific in high school math classes, opting instead for problems, explorations, and games that encouraged thinking and discussion.Read More
Traditional dominoes have a variety of uses in the classroom. A simple internet search for “math domino games” yields thousands of ideas for using these tools to build number concepts. But eventually, the novelty wears off and they become more of a toy than a learning tool. But the matching aspect of dominoes lets us expand this teaching tool to domains beyond number.Read More

The first time I ever saw a teacher using Unifix cubes in the classroom, it was not in an elementary school. I was coaching a middle school teacher who was introducing the concepts of mean, median, and mode to her students. They were using the cubes to “graph” the data and then find these measures of central tendency. Since then, I’ve seen Unifix cubes in classrooms at every grade level, used in a variety of ways to teach number sense, data, measurement, patterns, and an array of topics. They were never as useful a tool for Geometry… until now.

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"Would you rather have half of one chocolate bar or a quarter of a different chocolate bar? Most popular answer: It depends on the size of the chocolate bars! As teachers know, the relative size of fractions depends on how the whole is defined. Authors Jim Callahan and Marilynn Varricchio address these common problems with fractions in their new book Fractions Made Easy (Didax, 2016). Drawing on material from the book, we will focus on how visual models can be used to support a solid conceptual understanding of fractions in third grade.

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"With current math standards' emphasis on number lines as a visual math model, number lines are being used in nearly all primary grades classrooms for learning such things as counting and early operations. However, research has shown that number lines are conceptually too difficult for young children to understand and instead we should be using number paths, at least until second grade (Fuson, et. al., 2009). A number path is a visual model for counting, addition, subtraction and more. Experts say that the number path is superior to the number line as a visual model for early math learning. We caught up with Educator Margaret McGinty to learn why.

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Kathy Richardson, one of the leading authorities on elementary math, has spent years educating children in the early grades. Her recent book, How Children Learn Number Concepts, is a wonderful introduction to the Critical Learning Phases that elementary children move through as they are developing a sense of number. This concise book is full of information to guide teachers of all levels as they help students through the phases.Read More

When I was teaching high school, place value was a concept that just seemed to exist; it was inherent in everything I taught, yet received little attention. I simply took it for granted. As I transitioned to working with students and teachers in the elementary grades, I realized that this was a mistake because place value was a concept that many of my students probably never fully understood. Place value is far more than just ones, tens, and hundreds. To really understand the concept of place value, we need to understand the relationship between the places.

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My Preschool-age son likes to read with us, and one of the books in his “favorites” rotation teaches shapes and colors. On the page with the rhombus, I always use the term “rhombus” rather than “diamond,” which is what is printed in the book. While reading with his mother last week, she read the term on the page rather than substituting “rhombus.” My son quickly corrected her; he shared what his preschool teacher taught him: “Diamonds are shiny things in jewelry. That is a rhombus.”Read More
While on hall duty during my first year of teaching, I was surprised to see our math department chair leading her Calculus students to a large common area in the school. Curious, I checked in on them a few minutes after the class had started and found that they were plotting “points” by standing on a large coordinate grid mat on the floor. After watching the teacher use those mats over and over with students in Algebra 1 all the way through Calculus, I realized the value of this kinesthetic learning experience. Her students understood the concepts better, and were more engaged, because they were out of their seats and actively creating a life-sized visual model.Read More
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Items 1 to 10 of 17 total

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