FAQ: I’ve Ruined My Daughter

My daughter is only eleven, but I’m afraid I’ve ruined her chance of getting into college because she is so far behind in math. We’ve tried tutors, but she still has trouble, and standardized testing puts her three years below grade level. She was a late reader, too, so maybe school just isn’t her thing. What else can I do?

Standardized tests are not placement tests. They cannot tell you at what level your daughter should be studying. They aren’t designed that way. The “placement” they give is vague and general, not indicative of her grade level but rather a way of comparing her performance on that particular test with the performance of other students.

There can be many different reasons for a low score. I’ve listed a few of them in my post In Honor of the Standardized Testing Season.

Continue reading FAQ: I’ve Ruined My Daughter

To Badger a Child

Here’s the full quote:

Audrey seemed, for once, at a loss for words. She was thinking about the question.

I try to stay focused on being silent after I ask young children questions, even semi-serious accidental ones. Unlike most adults, they actually take time to think about their answers and that often means waiting for a response, at least if you want an honest answer.

If you’re only looking for the “right” answer, it’s fairly easy to gently badger a child into it, but I’m not interested in doing that.

—Thomas Hobson
Thank You For Teaching Me

CREDITS: “Pismo Beach, United States” photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

How to Build Math Literacy

Here’s the full quote:

We all know reading a book each day to our child develops their love of literacy… well, playing games is the equivalent in maths.

Through playing card games and board games (just short and sweet ones) children develop problem solving, counting and so many other skills.

Imagine if every time you play a game you say, “Let’s do some maths.” What a positive association your child will develop with maths!

—Ange Rogers
Instagram post

Discover more creative ways to play math with young children at the Number Doctors blog.

CREDITS: “Falling dice” photo by Riho Kroll on Unsplash.

Morning Coffee – 24 August 2020

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your morning coffee this week…

“We are all mathematicians. We all have the power to notice, describe, and generalize patterns. You have all had this ability since birth. If we believe this then every day we must plan lessons that allow students to act as mathematicians. We must put something in front of our students to notice. We must put something in front of our students to describe, to generalize.”

—Sara VanDerWerf
What is Math? What do Mathematicians do?

Continue reading Morning Coffee – 24 August 2020

How Mathematics Works

The full quote, as it appears in my new book:

Make a conjecture. A conjecture is a statement that you think might be true.

For example, you might make a conjecture that “All odd numbers are…” How would you finish that sentence?

Make another conjecture. And another. Does thinking about your conjectures make you wonder about math?

Can you think of any way to test your conjectures, to discover if they will always be true?

This is how mathematics works. Mathematicians notice something interesting about certain numbers, shapes, or ideas. They play around and explore how those relate to other ideas. After collecting a set of interesting things, they think about ways to organize them. They wonder about patterns and connections. They make conjectures and try to imagine ways to test them.

And mathematicians talk with one another and compare their ideas. In real life, math is a very social game.

—Denise Gaskins
Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

CREDITS: “Three girls counting” photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash.

Morning Coffee – 17 August 2020

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One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your morning coffee this week:

“A strategy is how you mess with the numbers, how you use relationships and connections between numbers to solve a problem. A model is a representation of your strategy, the way the strategy looks visibly. Modeling your strategy makes your thinking more clear to others because they can see the thinking and the relationships that went into your process.”

—Pam Harris
Strategies vs. Models

  • Do you have preschool or elementary students? Michael Minas has a great collection of games on his blog. Easy to learn and full of mathematical thinking.

“Doing mathematics like this deprives students of, well, let’s be honest, mathematics itself. We need to get to the answer faster. We need to move on. No time to stumble around rabbit holes. There is a curriculum to cover.”

—Sunil Singh
Our Fear of Being Lost Devalues The Beauty of Mathematics

CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash. “Morning Coffee” post format inspired by Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.

Only by Thinking

The full quote, as it appears in my new book:

When we give students a rule, we give them permission not to think. All they need to do is remember our instructions.

But it is only by thinking — by struggling their way through mental difficulties — that our students can build a foundation of mathematical knowledge strong enough to support future learning.

—Denise Gaskins
Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

CREDIT: “Thinking” photo by Sean Kong on Unsplash.

Morning Coffee – 10 August 2020

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your morning coffee this week:

“The happy truth about doing math with your kids is that it’s way more fun than you’re expecting it to be. It’s not about right answers, and it’s not about speed. It’s about playing, counting, building, sorting, and studying the wonderful, colorful world around us.”

—Dan Finkel and Katherine Cook
How to help your kids fall in love with math: a guide for grown-ups

Continue reading Morning Coffee – 10 August 2020

Mathematicians Play

The full quote, as it appears in my Math You Can Play books:

Mathematicians don’t sit around doing the kind of math that you learned in school. What they do is “play around” with number games, spatial puzzles, strategy, and logic.

They don’t just play the same old games, though. They change the rules a little, and then they look at how the game changes.

So, when you play games, you are doing exactly what mathematicians really do — IF you fool with the games a bit, experiment, see how the play changes if you change a rule here and there.

Oh, and when you make up games and they flop, be sure to examine why they flop — that is a big huge part of what mathematicians do, too.

—Pam Sorooshian
Games and Math

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

CREDIT: “Blue night” photo by Vincent Chin on Unsplash.

The Experience of Mathematical Thinking

The full quote:

For children (and adults) who have always considered math to be memorized rules, the experience of mathematical thinking — though difficult at first — can be as refreshing as a hike in pure mountain air.

As in hiking, so in math: It’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. Yes, you could give your students a rule that would help them get correct answers, but that’s no better than riding a helicopter up the mountain.

Slow down and take the time necessary to let your children fully explore these concepts.

— Denise Gaskins
Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

CREDIT: “On the edge” photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash.