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October 30, 2014

When Am I Ever Going to Use This?



Meaningful Math: When Am I Ever Going to Use This?

 This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. It is just one of many excellent and informative articles included in this edition.


“When am I ever going to use this math?” Most anyone teaching mathematics has been asked this question. Often students struggle to relate mathematics to their daily lives. While investigating applications of math is most critical to making content relevant, identifying appropriate ways to do so can be a challenge. Providing opportunities for students to see how math relates to their daily lives is essential to keeping students motivated to learn and keeping them engaged in math.

There are many ways to incorporate real-life applications of math into lessons, using a variety of digital resources.  Below are a few examples of how to connect the wonderful world of mathematics to the real world!

Activity: Using Systems of Linear Equations to Analyze Cell Phone Plans

Which cell phone plan is the best? Students will use linear equations to analyze two cell phone plans, in order to determine which plan is best based on how often they talk and text on their phone.

This activity is available at NCTM Illuminations: Talk or Text. Having students analyze these cell phone plans allows students to make decisions based on mathematical knowledge.  Students apply their knowledge of linear systems to determine how to save and spend money, an essential skill as they enter the real world. This activity is appropriate for any student learning systems of two-variable linear equations through an Algebra 1 curriculum and could also serve as a good review assignment when students revisit linear systems in Algebra 2.

Activity: Looking at Ellipses Through Earth’s Orbit Around the Sun

How does Earth’s orbit around the sun relate to global temperatures?  In this activity, students examine Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun.  They watch a brief video on how Kepler first discovered that planets orbit the sun in an elliptical path and then complete an activity that allows them to explore this elliptical path, paying close attention to when the Earth is closest and farthest from the sun.  Students use this information to determine how changes in this path may affect global temperatures.

The introductory video clip is available at Science Channel: Elliptical Orbits and provides students with some historical knowledge of how it was discovered that Earth has an elliptical path around the sun.  The activity is available at McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center: Totally Elliptical. Students not only learn about Earth’s elliptical path but also explore when Earth is the closest and farthest away from the Sun.  As students learn about Earth’s path, they are able to connect Earth’s position to temperatures of the world. This activity is appropriate for any students learning ellipses in a Geometry curriculum; it could also be appropriate as an Algebra 2 lesson.

Activity: Modeling the Sine Function with the Ferris Wheel

How does a ride on the Ferris wheel model the sine function?  Students observe a Ferris wheel simulation and consider how it models points on the graph of a sine function.  They then generate a sine function using information from a specific type of Ferris wheel.

The Ferris wheel simulation is available at OER Commons: Ferris Wheel for Graphing Trig Functions.  This GeoGebra activity is a great way to allow students to make predictions of the various transformations in the graph before they complete the main activity.  The main activity is available at Ohio Resource Center: Riding a Ferris Wheel Has Its Ups and Downs. This activity emphasizes the graph of this function and how different values affect the nature of the graph.

Students connect the top of a Ferris wheel to a point on the sine graph by analyzing various positions through the activity worksheet.  This activity is appropriate for any students learning the sine function in an Algebra 2 or Trigonometry curriculum.

Activity: Exploring Probability Through Games

How can probability be used to win a game?  One of the games on the famous show Let’s Make a Deal! has become one of the most famous math problems ever, the Monty Hall problem.  The game starts with 3 doors, behind which are two goats and a car. Suppose one door with a goat was eliminated, is it best to stay with the original choice or to switch? Students can perform their own simulation of the game to determine if staying or switching is the better choice.

The simulation game is available at NY TImes: The Monty Hall Problem. This activity allows students to explore probability theory through games and learn how to make decisions using various strategies based on the rules of probability. It is appropriate for students learning basic probability seen in Algebra or Statistics curriculum.

The examples above illustrate just a few ways to incorporate applications across mathematics curriculum using engaging digital resources. Making real-life connections through core courses, including Algebra, Trigonometry, Probability and Statistics, can really make math meaningful to students. For additional ideas, strategies and standards visit the following resources:

Author Bio:

Amy Miele is the VHS Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator, where she oversees all mathematics and business curricula and instruction, including course development, facilitation and support for both teachers and students. Amy has a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Salem State University. Prior to joining VHS, Amy was the Mathematics Department Coordinator at Lowell Catholic High School, where she taught math courses ranging from Algebra to AP Statistics.

Amy Miele

The Virtual High School

Maynard, MA



October 29, 2014

Cupcake Geometry

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 4:00 am

Cupcake Geometry

Written by Laurie Fleming


Today, we had a lesson in Geometry, right after we baked a bunch of cupcakes….which really confused my kids, since I told them it was math time, but first we needed to bake.

Here is what we did, we baked a batch up homemade cupckes, and we learned about about circles.

Because circles are everywhere, from the cakes, pies, cupcakes and other round food we make, to the mixers we use to the bowls we eat out of….

After the muffins cooled, we made our points on them, the diameter and radius, we found the center of the circle, using our protractors and rulers. And, then we drew on the cupcakes with food writer (so the kids could  also have their cupcakes as a snack)

We learned the following geometry terms with our cupcake lesson:




Here are the results:





What a fun (and tasty!) geometry lesson!

October 28, 2014

Count on Music for Math Fun


Count on Music for Math Fun By Catherine Schmidt-Jones

This is just one of the excellent articles in’s newest e-magazine.


Many people consider music to be too fun and interesting to count as “serious” learning, while at the same time considering math to be a necessary but uninteresting subject. Actually, music and math are closely related in many ways, and lessons that combine the two are not only fun and interesting; they also help to strengthen and deepen understanding of both subjects. The activities and lessons suggested below range from elementary-level arithmetic and basic musical concepts to advanced math and music studies suitable for teens.

Think you don’t know enough to lead a music lesson? The suggestions are explained and designed so that you don’t need to be an expert. In fact, music is a great subject to learn about together as a family, and while “playing math” with your kids, you may discover that you’d like to learn more about music yourself!

I Got Rhythm

A wide variety of real-world examples helps to build understanding of basic math concepts such as multiplication, division, and fractions. Fractions, Multiples, Beats, and Measures in particular engages auditory and kinesthetic learners. Introduce it alongside math manipulatives and visual examples, or use it alone to help beginning musicians develop a feeling for rhythm and meter.

Conducting Activities and Musical Meter Activities also help beginning musicians to internalize that divided-into-equal-parts concept that is so crucial both to music and to fractions, or they can simply be used as fun counting activities and general introductions to what musicians do.

Get Ready, Get Set . . .

Sets are a fundamental math concept; keys and scales are fundamental music concepts. Put them together and you can use intersections of sets to demonstrate that keys and scales are sets of notes, and to explore how closely any two keys are related to each other. Keys and Scales are Sets provides hands-on practice with set theory, as well as an introduction to the musical concepts of keys and scales. To focus on math understanding, use this activity along with other visual and hands-on demonstrations of sets. To focus on music-theory understanding, extend it to explore the scales, keys and pieces that your young musician is working on.

The Powers of Music

How high or low is a sound? Engineers and scientists talk about frequencies, while musicians talk about pitch. The relationship between pitch and frequency is not a simple, linear correspondence, so translating between the two requires some math! This is a subject that will fascinate teens who are interested in science or engineering, and can be of practical use for anyone interested in music or audio recording.

To understand the relationship between frequency and pitch, math concepts such as ratios, powers and roots are needed. Musical Interval, Frequency, and Ratio explains the basic relationship between frequency and pitch, and provides some examples and practice of the math concepts. There are also websites that will “play” any frequency that you request, which can be a great resource for “hands-on” explorations and demonstrations.

Another real-world exploration involves equal temperament, which is the tuning system that determines the exact pitches for pianos and many other instruments. In equal temperament, the difference in pitch between one note and the next-higher note is always the same. But the difference in frequency changes, getting bigger as the notes get higher. It takes an understanding of powers and roots to calculate the correct frequencies of equal-temperament notes. Those interested specifically in exploring equal temperament and other tuning systems can learn about the math involved in Powers, Roots, and Equal Temperament.

Count on Music Theory

If you happen to have a budding musician in the household, consider adding music theory to the curriculum. It opens a pathway to enjoyable skills, such as improvising, composing, and arranging music. In addition, music theory is based on the patterns that repeat across all keys, and it often uses numbers to keep track of the notes and chords within those patterns. So using music theory to practice those enjoyable skills also means using numbers and patterns to engage in creativity!

You may have to request it, but music theory can be included in music lessons, youth music programs, or music camps. Signing up for a course focused on music theory, through a local junior college or an online curriculum, may be an option for you. There are also open and free music-theory courses and texts online, such as Understanding Basic Music Theory.


Bio: OpenStax

 Funded by generous philanthropists and based at Rice University, OpenStax is changing the way the world thinks about education by breaking down the most common barriers to learning. Since its inception in 1999, OpenStax has provided free, high-quality learning materials to millions of students around the world, through OpenStax CNX, its open educational resource repository; OpenStax College, its higher-education peer-reviewed publishing arm; and OpenStax Tutor, its burgeoning adaptive learning research platform.



October 27, 2014

Educaching – Taking Math Outdoors



Educaching – Taking Math Outdoors

This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.


Alone in the woods with only my handheld GPS device and millions of dollars’ worth of satellites to help me navigate, I was looking for a small container hidden off the beaten path. Elated with joy, I finally found my tiny canister containing a clue that would prompt me to solve a simple math problem. As I excitedly fumbled with my pen and a scrap of paper to evaluate a numerical expression, I double checked my calculations and was on my way to find the final hidden prize! For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, Geocaching is an outdoor adventure that utilizes GPS technology to take people on high-tech scavenger hunts for hidden caches. Now, imagine using this concept to take students beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom on engaging hunts centered on their learning and you’ve got what I call Educaching!

I realized that a unique hook for learning could be found in Educaching. So I set out to write a teacher’s manual (titled Educaching: GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers) to help myself and others who wanted to implement this strategy from the ground up.  My students were the guinea pigs to pilot test the program and see if it had worth.

The first year, I started a GPS-based after school club with 5th graders. To my surprise, half of the 5th grade showed up and I found myself in charge of 43 students (and quickly scrambling for parent volunteers!). The students simply wanted to use the technology to search for things I had hidden on the school campus. They enjoyed the thrill of seeking for something hidden. Imagine…students being thrilled to learn and wishing they could stay at school longer in order to do so…this is what happens through the vehicle of Educaching.

The concept is simple and can be done in groups or individually. Students are equipped with a handheld GPS device and taken outdoors where  pre-arranged clues have been placed in hidden containers. The individuals, or groups, begin searching for an assigned container which holds a math problem, for example. If the problem is solved correctly the answer tells them which numbered container to find next and they’re off running to the next location using their GPS device. If they answer incorrectly, they clamor to correct their work in order to find the right solution. Another type of learning in this context can be pictured in a lesson I call “Grand Slam.” In this lesson, students are teamed up and take turns kicking a kickball from home base. The total distance of each kick is measured by the students with the GPS device. They then calculate the mean, median, mode, and range of their personal kicks and compare with kicks of their classmates. It ends up being an exciting lesson that allows them to directly participate in their learning with their own data. When doing these kinds of Educaching lessons, the students don’t even realize that they are using problem-solving skills, team collaboration, science, mathematics, language arts, and good communication all wrapped up into one exciting experience.

Following the success of the after-school GPS Club and after using this curriculum periodically throughout the school years with my students to engage them in lessons, I also studied Educaching in my graduate research concerning the effects on motivation of today’s learners by using GPS in education. The results of the research are undeniable…providing students with this technology, cultivating outdoor learning environments, and providing a framework similar to “The Great Race” is a formula for success when it comes to engaging children.

Please visit our web site at for more information, including samples of free lessons, videos , and our blog.

Let the hunt for learning begin!


About the Curriculum: Educaching has 20 S.T.E.M. lessons that vary in degree of difficulty from “Beginner” to “Advanced”. The objectives of each lesson are identified along with any other materials that may be required to complete the activity. The GPS curriculum blends technology with science, math, and physical activity creating an innovative teaching tool that satisfies all curricular objectives at multiple grade levels. It was designed to help educators of all types utilize this amazing technology to teach lessons through fun, outdoor activities.   In 2014 it was awarded the Mind Spring Award from Academics Choice.

It is written for the larger, national audience yet it is compatible with Christian beliefs. The material focuses purely on academic topics (averages, cause and effect, chemical changes, birds, estimation, etc.). The Educaching curriculum is ideal for families, co-ops, and children ages 8 and up. The cost of the curriculum is $32 plus applicable shipping and taxes.

About the Author: Jason Hubbard is a Christian teacher who instructs S.T.E.M. in Perrysburg schools and is also a homeschool parent. He works together with a team of Christian men and women, called SDG Creations.  They created the Educaching curriculum.  All profits from the small business are sent to Christian charities local and around the world.



October 24, 2014

Math – Pizza and Fractions




Pizza and Fractions is just one of the fun and informative articles in’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.

Check it out!

October 23, 2014





Written by Katie Hale

This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.

Often as homeschool parents we face the day when our children simply don’t like the subject we are teaching them. While this occurs in every classroom at some point, we strive to make it a non-issue in our home education classes. Mathematics is one of the most frequently complained about subjects, but I have found that incorporating different everyday things, especially nature into our classroom, alleviates the distaste for math.

Learning How To Teach Fractal Math Using Nature is something you can use in early grades as well as with your high school students. Not only do students of all ages enjoy the exploring nature aspect of these lessons, but they gain a new found appreciation for mathematics and how it helps our world function on a daily basis.


What Is A Fractal? A fractal is a naturally existing repeating pattern that displays endlessly at every scale. They can grow continually larger to infinity in repeating shapes. This natural phenomenon is a mathematical set that is great for showing how math multiplies equally at nearly every level.

Why Teach With Fractals? When kids are staring at geometric shapes they can quickly become bored and not understand how it applies to their daily lives. By taking a spin to look at naturally occurring fractals which are another part of mathematics similar to geometry, you can bring math full circle in their lives. By showing them how a shape can repeat in nature you are showing them how math applies to their daily lives.

How To Teach Fractal Math:

Look At Natural Occurrences Around Your Home:

  • Rivers, tributaries, coastlines. These all have repeating shapes and lengths. If you measure at different intervals, you will always find similarities in how they branch off, how they grow and where they lead.
  • Snowflakes. One of the first holiday crafts we teach our kids to make is a great example of fractal math. As we fold and snip pieces of paper we see that the shapes are repeating themselves throughout the structure of a snowflake. Those who have been given the chance to study actual snowflakes through a microscope can tell you how fractal math applies to every single miniscule flake.
  • Frost On Glass. This is a great way to have kids study the shapes and patterns of fractals up close. In winter months you can often see frost on glass that is fractal in nature. Get up close and have your students point out the patterns as they repeat.
  • Leaves From Trees And Plants. The most commonly occurring fractal we see on a daily basis is that of trees and leaves. Ferns are a wonderful example to look at to find fractal patterns, but many other varieties provide great study opportunities.
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower. Open up the veggie bin and let the kids take a look at that head of cauliflower they are complaining about eating. Seeing the fractal patterns in their foods will possibly make it more appealing as a meal.

Teaching about fractal math doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. As you travel for vacations or leisure look at your maps for fractals in river beds, mountain formations and other scenery. Go on nature hikes together to find fractal leaves and trees. Plant a garden and grow vegetables that show fractal patterns. No matter where you choose to have your classroom, teaching fractal math using nature can be a great addition to your curriculum this year.

Here is some additional information you might find interesting—



Katie Hale is a homeschooling mom, freelance writer and author aspiring to make every piece of the world a classroom. You can find more from her at her site You Brew My Tea (

October 22, 2014

The Wonderful World of Math Games


The Wonderful World of Math Games

This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.

There’s plenty of great, free math games to play out on the web but how do you find them and what do you do once you find them? Well, as an owner of a math website that has lots of math games, I can help you answer those questions and then some.

Why Math Games?

If you’ve read this far you probably know the answer already or have your own reasons for wanting to provide math games for your students or child. I have a ton of reasons I could list but I’ll keep it brief and list just one. Back in the old days (that would be the days I grew up in!), math was part of our daily lives and very little was done by machines/computers. So after working in a grocery store for several years, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing were second nature to me.   So when I was in my math classes in high school I was able to focus on the new material being taught versus getting hung up on the basic math. It certainly saved me a lot of time doing my homework as I had made a lot of the basic skills routine or second nature.

And that is where I think math games come into play today–to replace the daily math practice I had to do every day at work that made math routine. And I can tell you playing a fun math facts game is a lot more fun than dealing with customers who think you haven’t gives them of correct change.

Free Math Game Websites!!??

Yes, there are lots of free math game websites and you’ll come across several types if you look around some on the web. Some you’ll have to pay for, some will require you to enter personal information for a sign-up and some will be free. The free ones are usually ad supported or non-profits supported by donations or sponsors.

Fairly often after explaining that my website and games are free to use and play I’ll get a follow-up question asking if they can be used in a homeschool classroom. The answer is yes and is true for all of the free math websites.

Common Core ##@$$**!

So really a math game is a math game is a math game regardless of how it is categorized (Common Core Standard number, skill, grade level, etc.). But love it or hate it, a lot of educators are looking for math materials aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). So you will see a lot of websites with games mentioning that they are aligned with the CCSS. All this means is that the games have been tagged with the CCSS numbers that applies to them. I wrote quite a few math games before I had ever heard of CCSS but those games did align with a CCSS number. I try to stay out of controversial issues but I will say that CCSS is a pain as now every time I develop a math game I have to categorize it by skill and by CCSS! ;-)

Choosing a Math Gaming Website

If you don’t already have a list of favorite math game websites be sure and look around the web as there are a lot of great math game websites out there. A lot of websites share their games with other sites so if you see a game you like, check out the branding in the game to see if it came from another site. It might be from a site that you’d really like and maybe have never heard of.

Before letting your child use the site, be sure and check it out some. One thing I see on sites that might concern you is that some sites, even very popular sites, will include non-math games in with their math games without clearly identifying them as such. I try my best to identify the game as a math game by listing the skill included in the game in its listing. I also keep the math games in their separate area away from the puzzle and logic games.

And if the ads bother you, you can always use an ad blocker. Wow, that was hard for me to say due to the fact that we are able to provide free games because of the ads! But seriously, a lot of the websites including mine review the ads or block sensitive categories. That said, I personally don’t mind ads especially since the flashing type animations aren’t as annoying as they used to be. And over the years I’ve discovered some great products and websites by viewing the ads.

Math Game Types

Well, I mentioned earlier that I like to stay out of controversial issues but this is one issue that I always am embroiled in. My wife, co-owner of our site, is the educator in the business while I am the gamer, math, ex-bad student guy in the business. So when it comes to developing games I lean more towards the “fun for students” type of games while she leans more towards the “best for teachers” type of games.

Below are how I loosely categorize the math games:

Quick Hit games – these are played when you only have a short time to play. Educators tend to like these types of games and the games are usually simple math facts type games.

Level games – The object is to get through each level. These can be un-timed or timed.

Timed games – These games require certain tasks to be done within a certain amount of time. Kind of getting a bad rap these days but some gamers like a challenge and always want to go back and do better next time.

Un-timed games – Nothing timed in these games. Nice for when a player wants or needs to take a little time figuring things out. Good for group play where everyone contributes to the solution.

Logic/Puzzle games – Not math games but good to play when done with math. They keep minds active and are related to math since math has been described as logic with numbers wrapped around it. I like to think of these type games as wolves in sheep’s clothing since kids really like them but they do add value.

You won’t find the game types above categorized like this on any website, but it will give you an idea on what types of games you might see on sites and how they might be used. What you really have are games that try to keep the students engaged no matter what age, level, or personality type they are.

Now What?

Now that you have a list of websites and games that you like what do you do with them? Well, you can always save the links of your favorite math games or math websites in your browser’s favorite list so that you can access them later. A better solution would be to use one of the free bookmarking websites available that allows you to create and access your own list of favorite website links that you can access from anywhere and share with anyone.

Symbaloo at is one of the free bookmarking services that I use. It allows you to have your personal website listing of links in something they call a webmix. It is easy to create a webmix from scratch and even easier to take an existing webmix and modify it by keeping what you want, deleting what you don’t want and adding more links.

Below is a webmix I created containing links to some of our rounding games on the left side and links on the right side to our rounding games page, our website and You can go to Symbaloo and take my webmix or any of the other many webmixes and slice it and dice it any way you like adding, removing or modify links as you like.




The webmix above looks pretty cool right? You’d think it would have taken a long time to create but it didn’t. The webmix above was created by going to the web location I wanted to save, copying the link by highlighting the URL in the browser and then pressing ctrl-c to copy. I then clicked on a blank tile in the webmix and rather than typing in the link I just pressed ctrl-v to paste it in. The icon automatically showed up and I could choose to use it (which I did), provide my own image, or just type in text if I didn’tt want to use an image. For the homeschool website I did the same thing I did for the games except I went to and copy and pasted the URL ( from the browser.

Now You’re Ready to Have Some Fun!

Did I say “You’re” ready to have some fun! Why not? I keep reading that keeping the brain active with activities such as puzzles and games will keep your brain healthy and your thinking sharp as you age. And as I mentioned earlier, logic/puzzle games are a good way to keep your mind active too. So really math games and logic games aren’t just for your child or students. Now go out and have some fun!


Tommy Hall is the owner of along with his wife Jan. Tommy works full time but spends his free time utilizing his math degree and love of games to create some of the math games found on MathNook. Jan is retired after 28 years as an educator and now spends her time working on the website.


October 21, 2014

5 Mistakes When Teaching Math


The 5 Most Crucial Mistakes When Teaching Math

This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.

There are five crucial mistakes that teachers (and parents) make over and over and over again, when teaching math. These mistakes place huge barriers in front of their kids and their kids’ efforts in learning math.And if these mistakes are not eliminated first, parents will have:* kids who are always dreading their math lessons

* kids who may develop a deep anxiety when it comes to math

* kids whose confidence in themselves takes a battering because of poor math results

If you’re making any of the mistakes below, think about getting rid of them NOW. Then you and your kids have a much better chance of succeeding.

Mistake #1: The long drawn-out explanation

Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking the longer the explanation, the better it is.

In fact, the reverse is true.

Keep explanations **short** and to the point.

3-4 minutes for younger kids, 5-8 minutes for older kids. Then get them to immediately practice what they have just learned.

Mistake #2: Complicated explanations and showing too many diverse methods

Not only should you be keeping it short, you’ve also got to keep your explanations **simple**.

You are of course already aware that often there are multiple ways of approaching a math problem, all are which are “valid”.

However, math is much easier to teach when you know which methods kids understand best, and know which methods you must avoid. Do a little research on your end, as necessary. Whatever you do, don’t complicate things.

Mistake #3: Not understanding that kids need to be rock-solid in their basics and foundations.

Discovery learning has its place. But when it comes to Math, it needs to be AFTER the kids are rock-solid in their basics and foundations.

Mistake #4: Thinking rote learning times tables is bad, bad, bad.

Strange as this may seem to any intelligent person, there is a very strong feeling amongst many educators believing all rote learning is wrong. Why so wrong? Because, they say, it crushes the child’s creative spirit.

What???!!! Are these people nuts?

It is imperative students rote learn their times tables so they can recall the facts instantly. Not in three seconds, not in five seconds. INSTANTLY.

And not just times tables, but all of the basic recall facts too.

Mistake #5: Getting frustrated when kids don’t understand things the first time. Or even the second time, or the third…

Have I been guilty of this mistake? Yes. Could I make the same mistake in the future? Of course, I’m human. But I know I’m a lot better now at controlling my frustration than I ever used to be.

But it isn’t easy.

As difficult as it is, it’s essential your kids don’t sense you being frustrated with them because they didn’t get it the first time.

And I mean sensing ANY frustration whatsoever.

Because if they do then in future they will hesitate to come to you with problems because they’re worried about how you’ll react.

Problems about math.

And problems about things much more important than math.

So these are the mistakes most commonly made. Same as they were ten years ago. And probably the same as they will be ten years from now.

And now that you know them, it’s important to reflect and work on ways to avoid them.

I’m sure you can do it. Believe me, it’ll be worth it.


Patrick Murray
CTC Math teacher and founder

October 20, 2014

How to Conquer Math Anxiety


Suggestions on How to Conquer Math Anxiety

This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.

I hate math!!! Have you ever heard your kids say that? I’ve found it written on the bottom of their math assignments. It’s certainly not fun to do math if it causes anxiety for you. I understand that anxiety.

When I was a kid I hated math too. I just could not get those digits to stick in my brain no matter how hard I tried. It was as if my brain had reverse velcro to numbers! My parents would try to help me with my math homework and my mind would go completely blank as I tried to pull up the answers. They could not understand why I just wasn’t getting it.

The problem with math anxiety is that the harder someone presses the student to “get it” the more anxious they become and the less they will be able to “get it”. It becomes a vicious cycle. So how do you break this cycle with your kids?

  • Step back and take several deep breaths. Do your best to remain patient with them. Most kids really do want to understand.
  • Evaluate whether they have a strong foundation to build on. If a child doesn’t have a good grasp on the basic math facts, all other math concepts are going to be that much harder for them.
  • Find a way to make it fun. This may seem like an impossibility at this point. However there are online math games which may prove a life saver. has some great ones.
  • Try a different teaching approach. It’s possible that your child’s learning style doesn’t match up to the way you are teaching math. Maybe try teaching using songs. There are great math songs to be found on CD and on the internet. You can also try an online interactive approach such as
  • Help them build up confidence in their math skills. By taking the pressure away and allowing them to establish a firm foundation in the fundamentals, they will gradually become more confident.
  • Realize that not every kid is going to be a math whiz. Some people just don’t have a head for numbers. That doesn’t mean that they don’t need to learn the basics, but it does mean that they should be cut some extra slack. Encourage them in the areas where they do excel.

Hopefully, these suggestions will get your kids on the way to conquering that math anxiety and having new found confidence in their math skills. I know these are things I wish my parents had known when they were trying to help me.


Author: Dee Trope

Homeschooling Mom and representative for



October 17, 2014

Get Into the Right Brain with Math!


Get Into the Right Brain with Math!

This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.


For most people the word “math” conjures up visions of boring numbers suspended in a black and white world of paper, calculators and symbols. Although this analytical left side of the brain definitely plays the leading and most important role in processing numbers, the creative right side can also have a major role in understanding math concepts as well as being a great learning tool for memorization. For many children, merging the two hemispheres can be the key to success.

Since most children spend much of their day utilizing their creative imagination as they explore and learn about their surroundings, it is an easy jump to incorporate this creative side of color and imagery to help memorize and understand math as well.

What is great about right-brain math learning is there are so many ways to easily integrate this hemisphere of the brain. Teaching children fractions merely by using numbers and symbols often leaves the teacher and student in a frustrated state of non-success. However, putting the same children in front of a chocolate chip cookie recipe and helping them understand fractions as they pour ingredients into measuring cups brings the same fractions alive and gives them relevance to their everyday understanding. This right brain learning can even extend beyond the actual experience as they can imagine different scenarios of what they are learning.

This creative, hands-on, kinesthetic type of learning can be incorporated with just about every type of math concept. If your students are struggling with understanding perimeter, give them a measuring tape, a pad of paper, and have them measure the distance around your entire house. I’ll bet they will never forget the meaning of perimeter ever again! For the students that struggle with the concept of division, put a pile of beans in front of them and have them divide it up into various equal parts.

Right-brain math learning can also be a very successful memorization tool of abstract numbers, such as learning the times tables. One very effective way to do this is through mnemonics, which are memory aids that in essence “trick” the brain into remembering. For learning the times tables, the abstract numbers can be turned into characters in a vivid story that comes to life. As the students replay the imaginative scenario within their minds, the hidden multiplication problem and answer are then easily recalled because they have been embedded within the story. The most amazing thing about this method of memorization is that the students don’t even have to be aware they are learning their times tables! The right brain has recorded these vivid stories through the children’s imaginations, thereby allowing them to memorize otherwise abstract numbers.

So, the next time your children are stumped on math, pull them to the right—the right brain side of learning. You can help them understand a difficult concept or memorize some abstract information by acting it out, drawing it, measuring it, counting it, or just imagining a story about it. They will feel confident and more successful, and so will you!


Bio: Jennie von Eggers is the creator of Times Tales, a visual mnemonic program that helps children learn their upper times tables using fun, short stories. She created this program as a result of her own boys struggling to memorize their upper times tables during their homeschool years. Her boys are now away at college, but Times Tales is still helping thousands of students both in the classroom and in homes learn their times tables the creative, right brain way! Times Tales has been awarded Top 50 Homeschool Curriculum Picks three years in a row. For more information visit


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