Read on to discover lessons, articles, videos, and more. We update the blog regularly to provide you with valuable and timely resources, so visit us often!

We Ask, We Listen, We Learn

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
November 29th, 2018

How much is 12.6 × 10? This is a question from the Math Reasoning Inventory (MRI) decimal assessment. What do you think were the most common incorrect answers given by the more than 7,800 students who figured out the answer in their heads? And what about the boy who answered, “One hundred twenty and thirty-fifths?”

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Word Problems

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
January 10th, 2018

Word problems have long been difficult and frustrating for students to solve and for teachers to teach. A colleague recently forwarded an email from a woman looking for resources to help her fourth-grade granddaughter with word problems. I thought for several days about how to offer positive support to both the grandmother and her granddaughter.

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A Mental Math Lesson

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
October 25th, 2017

I taught this mental math lesson to a class of fourth graders. I chose an addition problem—99 + 17—for the students to solve mentally, purposely selecting a problem that would be accessible to the students. Also, I knew that the problem could be solved in different ways. I planned to elicit from the students strategies for figuring out the sum of 116 and then to show video clips of other students solving the same problem. After watching each video clip, we’d analyze how the student reasoned and then check back to see if anyone in our class used the same strategy.

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Math at the Deli

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
October 10th, 2017

My friend Ann sent me an email about her unsettling experience at the supermarket deli counter. Ann has never felt particularly confident with her math ability, and I was pleased (and amused) that she asserted herself in this situation. Also, Ann’s comment to me about the work we face as math teachers rang true.

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Word Problems: Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
September 16th, 2017

A long-standing instructional practice has been to teach students how to multiply (or add, subtract, or divide) and then, after the students have learned to compute, give them word problems to solve. In this post I present a lesson with a different approach, where word problems become the lead and reason for learning to compute.

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The Game of 2048

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
September 08th, 2017

Several months ago I received an email message from my friend Sandra. She wrote, “If you want something new to distract you, try playing the new game 2048. I’m finding it addicting.” I took Sandra’s advice and downloaded the free app. And, like Sandra, I found it addicting. But it also led me to think more about what I think is important when we teach math.

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Where’s the Math?

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
August 02nd, 2017

Students’ ideas often amaze me, and Lydia’s is one of the most suprising examples. She used 7 x 3 = 21 to figure out that 8 x 4 = 32. She reasoned that since the factors in 7 x 3 were each 1 less than the factors in 8 x 4, she’d just increase each digit in the answer, changing 21 to 32. She was correct! Read about Lydia’s discovery, what I did, and what I learned.

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Celebrate Earth Day with Math!

by Math Solutions Professional Learning Team, April 21st, 2017

April 22nd is Earth Day, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate our planet with some fun math activities! Allow your students to step into the shoes of Eratosthenes, who originally found the measurement for the circumference of the Earth, with “The Librarian Who Measured the Earth”, a fun exploration of circumference. Make sure to check out Farmer’s Math…

An Unusual Word Problem: “Dealing in Horses”

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
January 10th, 2017

After I told Steven, the man seated next to me on an airplane, that I was a math teacher, he described the Dealing in Horses problem that he was given at a corporate management training session. The problem has been one of my teaching staples ever since.

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Why I Like Using Open Number Lines (Though I Don’t Like the Name)

by Marilyn Burns, Founder, Math Solutions
December 13th, 2016

This post is about subtraction, which is typically difficult for students to learn and for teachers to teach. Think about 503 – 398, for example. To estimate the answer, I can change the problem to 500 – 400 (rounding 503 to 500 and 398 to 400). That gives me an estimate of 100, which I know is close. But how can I know if the actual answer to 503 – 398 is greater or less than 100? I raised this question with third graders.

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