How to Build Math-Motivated Students

math motivation, Imagine MathSomewhere right now, a student is struggling with math. But is their struggle productive or pointless? The answer depends on one thing: motivation.

The fact is, it takes patience and perseverance to build any skill, such as phonological awareness for budding readers or math fluency for budding mathematicians.

But when students are motivated to keep going, they’re on a sure path to mastery–even in the middle of setbacks and failure.

What Motivates Math Learning?

It’s a given that no two students are alike. Clearly, what motivates one may not work for another.

Moreover, each student needs a variety of problem-solving skills. In math–as in life–there may be more than one “right” answer. Given the complexity of this process, what motivators are best? Read more »


How to Use Multiplication Worksheets to Assess Fluency

Timez Attack, Imagine LearningMultiplication worksheets. Schools commonly use these to measure math fact fluency, yet aggregating response times is tricky, especially given the typical number of math facts measured.

What’s more, the resulting data rarely tells you which math facts a student knows fluently compared with facts they are still calculating.

How to Maximize Effectiveness

When it comes to multiplication worksheets, use these tips to maximize your effectiveness in the classroom:

1. Assess each individual fact. You can use a stopwatch or let a program like Timez Attack do the job for you automatically; but at some point, it’s critical to measure which facts students can recall automatically and which ones they have to stop and calculate.

If you don’t measure each fact accurately, you won’t fix it. Read more »


Common Core and Multiplication Tables

multiplication, Common Core, math fluency, Big BrainzMuch has been said and written about the use of Common Core standards in today’s classrooms, particularly when it comes to CCSS math standards.

Case in point: some educators claim that mastering multiplication tables is less important in the Common Core. But is this claim really true? Let’s take a deeper look.

Multiplication and the Common Core

When it comes to multiplication standards, here’s what Common Core has to say:

CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.C.7 Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 × 5 = 40, one knows 40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

In a nutshell, the more you care about developing higher-order mathematics, the more important fluency becomes.

Now, let’s deconstruct a few Common Core assumptions as they relate to math. Read more »


Brain Science 101: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Smarter

Brain neurons, get smarter, cognition, Imagine Learning In a 2011 Scientific American article, behavioral therapist Andrea Kuszewski reinforced a concept that continues to gain traction today–namely, that it’s possible to improve one’s native intelligence.

In the past, even respected scientists assumed that intelligence was purely genetic and unlikely to change over time.

Nowadays, neuroscientists and cognitive therapists recognize that fluid intelligence (e.g., the capacity to learn and process new information) is the reality.

More importantly, people can boost their fluid intelligence by improving their working memory. But how?

Five Principles

According to Kuszewski, you don’t have to be a genius to improve cognition. Even those with low IQs can grow in fluid intelligence. To quote the author, “what doesn’t kill you (will make) you smarter.” Read more »


A Guide to Math Picture Books in the Classroom

I Hate Mathematics book, Imagine This blog, Big Brainz, math factsIf you’re an elementary teacher, you’ve probably seen these two kinds of students in your classroom:

  1. Students who understand and enjoy math.
  2. Students who are frustrated by math because they don’t understand it.

It’s your job to help those in the second group find their way into the first group. Luckily, picture books about math can really help.

The ‘Why’ of Math Picture Books

It’s human nature to enjoy stories. By relating to a character who feels the way they do, students can gain the confidence to move through their own challenges–both in and outside the classroom.

Even more importantly, there’s a tangible link between reading and math. It stands to reason that doing one can help the other.

When teachers use picture books containing math themes (either implicit or explicit), they offer students a contextualized experience with mathematics generally.

Plus, a good story can comfort the heart of any student who’s afraid of math. Read more »