PODCAST

Room to Grow - a Math Podcast

Room to Grow Math

Room to Grow is the math podcast that brings you discussions on trending topics in math education in short segments. We’re not here to talk at people. We’re here to think and learn with others — because when it comes to mathematics there’s always room to grow!
Addressing Math Anxiety with Robert Ahdoot - Part 2
In this episode, Joanie and Curtis continue their conversation with Robert Ahdoot, founder of Yay! Math. We continue the conversation from Episode 9, digging into how teachers can address students’ math anxiety. We discuss the idea that teaching could be considered a service profession, and how that perspective can support teachers in building trust with their students. Robert shares a powerful story of a discipline issue in his classroom, and how approaching the situation with the humanness we share with students supported a positive outcome. Although Robert’s creative, outgoing, and exuberant personality are part of who he is as a teacher, he reminds us that any personality type can be a profoundly impactful educator by working to connect with and understand students. After all, Robert suggests, students just want to know that we have their backs.Listeners are encouraged to consider these additional resources mentioned in the episode:Robert Ahdoot’s website, https://www.yaymath.org/  where you can find videos, courses, Robert’s blog and more to help inspire the students in your care;Robert’s Algebra 1 lesson on ratios and proportions for Texas Instruments’ “Smart Space” video series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5itAHkH0YH4&list=PLQa_6aWmaC6AebhOVkKXC8Vags6D1TVaz ;Jo Boaler’s research article on timed tests: https://bhi61nm2cr3mkdgk1dtaov18-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/nctm-timed-tests.pdf More about our guest, Robert Ahdoot: Robert Ahdoot is a math teacher and founder of YayMath.org, a free online collection of math video lessons filmed live in his classroom, in the studio, and even as street performance art, using iconic costumes and characters. Robert has given TEDx talks and travels to schools and conferences promoting his message of achieving positive learning through meaningful human connections. He is the author of One-on-One 101: The Art of Inspired and Effective Individualized Instruction, and the creator of online Algebra and Geometry math courses.Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
Nov 22 2021
32 mins
Addressing Math Anxiety with Robert Ahdoot - Part 1
Joanie and Curtis host their first guest on this episode of Room to Grow. Robert Ahdoot taught high school math and found his strength in connecting with and engaging students, leveraging his enthusiasm and creativity to build strong relationships with students. He found that his humor, compassion, and excitement for mathematics content helped students overcome their anxiety about and struggles with learning math. Robert brings a contemplative and self-reflective spirit to our conversation, bringing in knowledge about the physiology of stress and the workings of our brains alongside his passion for human connection and relationships, making this a conversation unlike any other. We tackle issues that almost every math teacher has dealt with: supporting students who struggle, who are unengaged, and who experience math anxiety, causing them to underperform. Robert gives practical and actionable tips, and reminds us to not take ourselves too seriously along the way. You’ll leave wanting more, and you’ll get it! This episode is the first of two conversations with Robert. You won’t want to miss a minute of this conversation!Listeners are encouraged to consider these additional resources mentioned in the episode:Robert Ahdoot’s website, https://www.yaymath.org/  where you can find videos, courses, Robert’s blog and more to help inspire the students in your care;Robert’s Algebra 1 lesson on ratios and proportions for Texas Instruments’ “Smart Space” video series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5itAHkH0YH4&list=PLQa_6aWmaC6AebhOVkKXC8Vags6D1TVaz ;YouCubed video on the importance of struggle: https://www.youcubed.org/resources/the-importance-of-struggle/ One of Robert’s favorite riddles: You have 9 marbles. One is slightly heavier than each of the other 8. Using a balance scale only twice, how can you determine which is the heavier marble? The answer is elegant and without "out of the box" thinking, which is generally welcomed of course, but no need here. No weighing marbles with your hands, dropping them, using water somehow, etc. You can determine which is the heavier marble using the balance scale twice.More about our guest, Robert Ahdoot: Robert Ahdoot is a math teacher and founder of YayMath.org, a free online collection of math video lessons filmed live in his classroom, in the studio, and even as street performance art, using iconic costumes and characters. Robert has given TEDx talks and travels to schools and conferences promoting his message of achieving positive learning through meaningful human connections. He is the author of One-on-One 101: The Art of Inspired and Effective Individualized Instruction, and the creator of online Algebra and Geometry math courses.Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
Oct 25 2021
36 mins
Reframing Learning Loss
In this episode of Room to Grow, Joanie and Curtis discuss the challenge of pandemic “learning loss” and provide ideas for math teachers to reframe this concept. They speak about the potential negative impacts of deficit language as students return to classrooms across the country, and emphasize the importance of creating a positive classroom culture for learning, grounded in beliefs that all students can and will be successful. Acknowledging that educators are facing significant pandemic-related challenges, our hosts also talk about the power of collaboration and how it is even more important for the success of teachers and students in the 2021-22 school year.Listeners are encouraged to consider these additional resources for managing learning in the new school year:Continuing the Journey: Mathematics Learning 2021 and Beyond – joint publication from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) and the Association for State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM).Learning Acceleration for All: Planning for the Next Three to Five Years – TNTP’s resource for educators responding to Covid-19’s impact on learningThese blog posts on The False Construct of Readiness in Mathematics and A Process to Address Unfinished Learning in Middle School Math (which has ideas applicable to all grade levels). Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
Sep 20 2021
30 mins
Creating a Classroom Environment Fertile for LearningHow Beliefs Impact Achievement
How does what we believe as teachers impact our students and their learning? What about their beliefs about themselves as learners and doers of mathematics? In this episode of Room to Grow, Curtis and Joanie explore these ideas and more from the perspective of continuous improvement and growing awareness as educators. They share stories from their own experiences where naming a fundamental belief about teaching and learning mathematics provides a powerful reminder of habits, actions, or decisions that work against our fundamental beliefs. As former classroom teachers, Joanie and Curtis know how challenging it is to meet the needs of a full class of students, and working to be a better teacher from day to day and year to year. They talk about shifting the thinking from doing something more to doing something different when a teacher wants to make a change in their classroom to better align their practice with their beliefs.And of course, students’ beliefs are part of the mathematics achievement equation, too, so our hosts share some ideas about how teachers can help bolster students’ beliefs in themselves and in their abilities to learn mathematics.Learn more about students' mathematical identities in this book: https://www.nctm.org/Store/Products/The-Impact-of-Identity-in-K-8-Mathematics--Rethinking--Equity-Based-Practices/Learn about supporting equitable outcomes in your math classroom in this book: https://www.amazon.com/Choosing-See-Framework-Equity-Classroom/dp/1951600800Joanie mentions this book where she explored ideas of developing students’ social and academic capital: https://www.amazon.com/Heterogenius-Classrooms-Detracking-Science-Groupwork/dp/0807752460 Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
Jul 27 2021
34 mins
Helping Students Struggle Productively
Productive Struggle is a key component of students’ mathematical learning. But struggle can shift from “productive” to “unproductive” at different rates and for different reasons for different students (and teachers!). Ensuring that students engage in productive struggle is complex, nuanced, and dependent on a healthy classroom culture and strong teacher-student relationships. In this episode, Curtis and Joanie explore what productive struggle looks like and how to recognize when a student’s struggle is heading for an unproductive state. They consider the characteristics of tasks and activities that lend themselves to supporting productive struggle, including the “just right” level of difficulty, and that students have enough familiarity with the topic that they believe they can be successful with the task.Next, our hosts unpack the idea of the “Learning Pit” from James Nottingham, and how effective and well-timed questions from the teacher can help students who are stuck in the pit to find the proverbial rope they can use to pull themselves out and find success. Finally, Joanie shares a challenging geometric puzzle and the conversation she had with Curtis where he supported her productive struggle in finding the solution, tying together the ideas from this episode into an authentic situation from the hosts’ own lives.Explore more about the Learning Pit and other ideas from the Challenging Learning Group here: https://www.challenginglearning.com/learning-pit/  Consider extending your learning about productive struggle with these resources from NCTM (membership required for access):Productive Struggle in Action (access at www.nctm.org/mtlt11305g3).By way of introduction: Productive Struggle (Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, Vol. 23, No. 4, January/February 2018).Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
Jul 6 2021
45 mins
Mathematical Representations
In this episode of Room to Grow, our hosts discuss the importance of mathematical representations for students' deep learning of mathematics. The five representations described in NCTM's Principles to Actions include Physical, Visual, Symbolic, Verbal, and Contextual. Research shows that attending to and making connections between these multiple representations. National Research Council (2001), "Because of the abstract nature of mathematics, people have access to mathematical ideas only through the representations of those ideas" (p. 94). Joanie and Curtis remind listeners that the purpose of attending to multiple mathematical representations is not simply to check a box, but rather to make connections between the representations, allowing students to recognize the underlying structures and generalities. This deeper level of connection is at the heart of understanding mathematics.Finally, they consider how mathematical representations support students' development of mathematical discourse and language; after all, student need to understand their representations pretty well in order to explain them to someone else! By incorporating discourse and mathematical language in the classroom, students thinking is validated and they create ownership of the mathematics, both their approaches and those of their classmates.Be sure to check out these resources, referenced in this episode:Math Assessment Project - Shell Center: Comparing strategies lesson (includes the pancake problem discussed in this episode) https://www.map.mathshell.org/download.php?fileid=1631Learn more about Using and Connecting Mathematical Representations in NCTM's Principles to Actions https://www.nctm.org/Store/Products/Principles-to-Actions--Ensuring-Mathematical-Success-for-All/Learn more about the Five Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions https://www.nctm.org/Store/Products/5-Practices-for-Orchestrating-Productive-Mathematics-Discussions,-2nd-Edition/Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
Jun 14 2021
34 mins
Mathematical Exploration
In this episode of Room to Grow, Curtis and Joanie dive into ideas around exploration and play in mathematics. Although this may seem frivolous and not a priority for time-constrained math educators, our hosts discuss the positive implications on student learning, mindsets, and engagement in the mathematics. By framing an activity as “exploration,” the stress many students carry around learning math can dissipate, opening their minds to better understanding and enjoyment, and allowing them to tap into the power of their common sense and creativity. Curtis and Joanie consider how math educators can be strategic in their use of exploration and play so that the time taken is well spent and pays off for learning of important mathematical ideas.Be sure to check out these resources, referenced in the episode and supportive of including mathematical exploration in your classroom:Problems worth solving at https://www.openmiddle.com/. Curtis referenced an exploration of quadratics in standard form, available here: https://www.openmiddle.com/maximum-value-of-a-quadratic-in-standard-form/Texas Instruments transformational geometry activities and lesson bundles are great for geometry exploration and can be found here: https://education.ti.com/en/timathnspired/us/geometry/transformational-geometryShare your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
May 24 2021
27 mins
Ensuring Every Student is Learning
One of the biggest challenges math teachers face is the variety of mathematical backgrounds students bring with them to math class.  Although state standards describe what students should know and be able to do at the end of the grade, more often than not, students move to the next grade or course with an incomplete mastery of pre-requisite content. In this episode of Room to Grow, Curtis and Joanie suggest that we reframe this reality: instead of thinking this is a problem to be solved, educators can embrace the diversity and leverage it to ensure that all students are progressing in their mathematical learning.Our hosts start with an acknowledgement that all teachers are doing their best, and that all teachers want their students to be successful. From there, they discuss the importance of establishing strong relationships with student. Although it is cliché, it’s true that “students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” When students know their teacher believes in them and is willing to do what it takes to help them understand math, they are often more willing to put forth the effort and work past obstacles to learning.Curtis and Joanie complete this episode by sharing planning strategies that keep learning for all students front of mind, and suggest ways that math educators can make adjustments to their planning and instructional practice that help more learners engage. Be sure to check out these resources:Achieve the Core’s Coherence Map for tracing back pre-requisite math knowledge: https://achievethecore.org/coherence-map/  and this blog post that describes how the Coherence Map helps with unfinished learning: https://achievethecore.org/aligned/unfinished-learning-in-math-how-do-you-address-it/Research-backed strategies for supporting students: https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/PracticeGuide/rti_math_pg_042109.pdf Article discussing Just-in-time vs. just-in-case intervention: https://pubs.nctm.org/view/journals/mtlt/113/10/article-p774.xml (*note: NCTM membership required)Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
May 3 2021
28 mins
Making Modeling Accessible
Mathematical modeling is a cornerstone of students’ K-12 mathematics learning experiences. In their debut episode, your Room to Grow hosts discuss ideas for including more mathematical modeling in your classroom.Joanie and Curtis start by acknowledging that the term “modeling” conjures up many ideas for educators and for students, and define their non-negotiable characteristics of mathematical modeling. They suggest the differentiators include that students must have the opportunity to apply the math they know to modeling tasks, and that these tasks are grounded in authentic contexts where the mathematics has real meaning and a real outcome, rather than being a typical math word problem.Math educators are constantly managing the constraints of time and an excess of content to be taught, so our hosts share their ideas for finding the time to do modeling tasks and ensuring the time is spent well. They remind the listener that mathematical modeling isn’t an experience to tackle frequently, but to invest in these activities when they align with high-leverage math content and ensure deeper levels of engagement and understanding for students. The investment can pay off down the road for educators and students who take the time when it is most beneficial.Finally, listeners are encouraged to consider when during instruction to bring modeling tasks in and the affordances of using these for formative assessment. Joanie and Curtis suggest that managing cognitive complexity alongside the mathematical demands of a modeling tasks can support effective implementation and the most positive experiences for students. Start small and set yourself up for success!Be sure to check out these resources to support your mathematical modeling efforts:Texas Instruments’ mathematical modeling activities: https://education.ti.com/en/timathnspired/us/mathematical-modelingCognitive complexity in mathematics: https://achievethecore.org/aligned/reaching-new-heights/ Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com . Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy.
Apr 19 2021
29 mins

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