Effective math learning takes place with the use of visuals! Most all of us need to see the math in front of us to be able to identify relationships and patterns. One fun way to grab your students' numerical attention is through photos that contain math situations. Simply take pictures throughout the day that contain groups of people or items that can serve as a catalyst for discussion.

When I started using the 6+1 Traits of Writing 9 years ago, I loved the strategy of RAFT to get students focused on a specific message for a specific audience. RAFT stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. It really helped my students zone in on what was most important. Then as my instruction evolved, I found that RAFT was also an awesome strategy for writing in math.

A balanced math program includes time to develop and practice conceptual and procedural knowledge to proficient levels. Fitting it all in is a challenge, especially when you have a limited amount of time.

Writing in mathematics is a critical component for developing deep conceptual understanding. Math quick writes are a great way to get students thinking and explaining math concepts and relationships. A quick write is an opportunity for students to think about a specific topic or respond to a math-related question. The goal is to activate prior knowledge, make connections, and explore ideas. Any question or task that requires comprehension or analysis can be turned into a quick write.

Do you have a "just right" problem for your students to solve during guided math? There are many misconceptions about guided math. The biggest one is that students are pulled to small group to practice computation using manipulatives or algorithms learned during whole group. But really guided math is similar to guided reading in that it's all about using all of the math processes. This means the first step to guided math is selecting a problem in which students will engage in a productive struggle using all of their new learning and prior knowledge to solve.

Overcoming a fixed mindset for mathematics is a dilemma that most educators need to help students deal with every school year. Here are 3 ideas for getting students to develop a mathematical mindset.

Have you shared a Bedtime Math story lately? We love Bedtimemath.org and you should too!

Math backpacks are a great way to motivate students to practice their math skills at home. A Math Backpack is a simple backpack filled with focused math games, that have been played in the classroom that students take home to practice for a day or week.

**Number talks** are an easy way to start your math block off with a bang! Students are engaged in a mental math activity that gets them thinking strategically about numbers and how they work.

Children’s books can be effective vehicles for motivating children to think and reason mathematically. (Burns, 2004) A children’s book is a great way to launch or assess mathematical learning.

For every math unit, select 2-4 children’s books that contain situations related to the concepts and that allow students to use new skills and strategies. Be sure to choose wisely!

Reading aloud helps students expand their vocabulary and connect mathematical thinking to real life situations. Stories help students organize, store, and retrieve conceptual information related to the skills, strategies, and processes needed to think mathematically.

Children’s books provide a perfect starting point for engaging students in authentic problem solving. Students need time to hypothesize and experiment with strategies in real world situations. Stories provide a context that helps students construct conceptual understanding of math ideas.

Rekenrek Build-a set

Build your own Rekenrek with simple materials and a few simple steps. Great for use in the classroom counting by fives, tens, demonstrating the commutative property, creating fact families and so much more!

From pre-kindergarten to high school, students need frequent practice using their numeracy skills to solve problems. During five-to-ten minute number talks, students solve problems using mental math strategies and explain how they arrived at a solution.

When students create their own problems they are able to internalize the text structure of the the word problem.

**In Susan O’Connell’s book Introduction to Problem Solving, the author suggests helping students understand word problems by showing students how to connect problem solving to their own lives and interests. Using the idea of a creating a mad lib can accomplish this goal and add some fun to math class**

Small group guided math instruction is a powerful tool for helping students accelerate their problem solving skills. Just ten minutes of coaching and practice can potentially move students by leaps and bounds. Here are a few guidelines for guided math groups:

Browse through some of Kelly's personal favorites and professional recommendations for succesful Math instruction.

Second Grade Teacher Marcie Herbst's Math Workshop Choice Board. Students choose games and paper pencil activities to practice math skills and strategies.

Do your students love read aloud time? Can you see the wonder in their faces when you turn a good page or reveal an incredible illustration? Imagine extending such magic into the tasks you face in math... there is nothing like quality literature to unlock the secret behind a given concept, to extend the meaning of a term, or approach a topic from a new point of view. Authors have joined this effort and penned incredible covers spanning topics as simple as shapes and patterns to the more complex concept of circumference or probability.

“But, this is math. We don’t write in math class!”

Have you ever heard this from a student? Have you ever encountered resistance when attempting to integrate language arts into your regular math instruction?

It is perfectly normal for students to compartmentalize their learning, organize their work by content, and into categories that make the most sense. Writing in math? That just doesn’t compute,” they think to themselves. Yet, given this opportunity, students would find an outlet for exploring their thoughts, cementing their understanding, and extending the activity provided.

Do you remember the first time you learned how to ride a bike? The feel of the handle bars, the wind in your face, and that magical moment when the hand let go from the seat? Riding a bike is one of those things you just have to learn by doing. No book, no sit down discussion, or how-to video will teach the basic of balancing and braking. This is the case with mathematics as well.