Math = Gibberish: The UPSC Approach to Teaching Word Problems

If Sameera, Bobby, and Jose buy ten Snickers bars and then chase their dogs around the neighborhood for seven minutes, how many donuts will the monkey need to bring to the zoo in order to celebrate Javi's birthday? Raise your hand if this seems totally normal for a math class... Right. Well... this "word problem" … Continue reading Math = Gibberish: The UPSC Approach to Teaching Word Problems

Multiplying Polynomials *with boxes*

If you can't tell... I LOVE PROVIDING STRUCTURE (!!!) in math class.  I use boxes and circles to combine like terms, squiggly lines to indicate equal signs, and tables to work through transformations of functions.  While these structures are not necessary for the honors or highest level students to achieve success in math, I've found … Continue reading Multiplying Polynomials *with boxes*

Calculating Slope From 2 Points *with tables*

Finding the slope seems to trip students up every year, even though we work step-by-step through the different variations.  Students seem to master each individual piece (*EXCEPT maybe the slope formula... hence, this blog post!  We'll get there...).  We always have great conversations about types of slopes, making connections between all the different representations: special … Continue reading Calculating Slope From 2 Points *with tables*

Prime Factors *with cakes and ladders*

Prime factorization with factor trees (actually, using factor trees in general), in my opinion and experience, is the WORST!  Organized kids can usually keep track of what they need to, but many struggling students lose "branches" of their trees and forget that they still need to factor composite numbers like 6.  If a kid learned … Continue reading Prime Factors *with cakes and ladders*