To new math teachers, this sort of stress only compares to that getting injected with a thin, long needle for the first time or sitting in a dentist’s chair with your mouth full of something-caine waiting for a root canal. You know it’s going to benefit you in the long run just to be over it, but the the closer …

## The Real Purpose of Math Is …

Anyone who’s ever had to fill in this blank understands my pain: “The real purpose of learning math is _____” I have a variety of answers, but usually, it’s straight-forward: much of the math you learn is applied to real-life situations, and the ability to do it yourself with no need for a calculator makes sure you’re independent of technological …

## Tearing the House Down pt. 1: No (Limiting) Math Gimmicks!

I could have easily declared the following as a math teacher, but I’m being more demonstrative now: No. More. FOIL. Anyone who’s followed these posting in the last couple of years knows that I’m all for finding efficient ways of remembering how one works through different elements of math. I’m also for remembering processes so long as, later on, there’s …

## I Need Your Full Cooperation and Total Attention

Just a few things I’d like to mention. I came into my classroom ready to breeze through the last few standards before the NYS Math Test (probability, permutations, and the like). I came in with a vengeance, remembering the things I needed to cover before those two dreaded words: Test. Prep. I’m officially nervous about the NYS Math Test 9 …

## Open Thread: What Makes a Good Math Teacher?

Here are a few good questions for everyone. At the behest of brran, I’ve decided to start an open thread about math teachers. As the title says, what makes a good math teacher? As someone who considers himself a good math teacher, I often wonder what takes a teacher from good to great, or even from adequate to good. What …

## A Life’s Perspective on Ratios

You know you’re a math teacher when even I’m even starting to make the small parts of life mathematical. A few instances: Friend Quality vs. Quantity Ratio I had a long conversation with a friend of mine who was looking at someone’s profile on Facebook and mentioning how many friends this person had. This person apparently had tons of people …

## Ojala Que Llueva Cafe En El Campo (Hope That It Rains Coffee In The Field)

Juan Luis Guerra’s quintessential song is “Ojala Que Llueva Cafe En El Campo,” a song that comes across more as a incantation that the poor and hopefully at the least have coffee somehow fall from the sky to bless them, as if to say that G_d might bless them with their basic necessities to relieve them from their hunger, strife, …

## Ace of Bases

This week, I’ve taken Greg Tang’s advice from the NCTM Conference and started working with the kids on different bases. And by different bases, I mean different ways of looking at the number systems we use. One of the biggest reasons why kids don’t get math in general is because the numbers themselves don’t make sense to them. For example, …

## 8 Things I Learned At the NCTM (or Planet of the 8s)

I have to tell you, I definitely felt like I learned a lot at the conference I keep telling you all about. I discovered a lot about my own teaching and how I’m doing a lot more right than I thought, but also found stuff that I need to work on more diligently. I suppose if I’m going to be …

## Abstracting the Concrete

Last week in the classroom, I started dreading the idea of the two worst words for any regular teacher in this country: test prep. I hate it because it’s a contrived barometer of what they’ve truly learned, and en masse, becomes the data for metrics used to evaluate student progress, teacher competency, school preparedness, and demographic success rates. Unfortunately, only …