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The Underachiever in Mathematics

By far, our most popular workshop, which can be tailor made for elementary or high school mathematics, has been conducted as full day as well as 3 hour workshops. Regardless of the experience of the participants, this workshop has been hailed as one of the most important and effective ones to enable teachers to increase success with all mathematics students, especially the underachiever.

All students are capable of success in mathematics so what can we do differently to make it happen?

This workshop is based on a 7 year research program conducted with high school students, analyzing the characteristics of the low achiever in mathematics.

This research led to a deep understanding of the main obstacle to student success in mathematics, which is a difficulty in “abstracting”. This, in turn, led to the development of very specific aspects of abstracting and more importantly how one can take this research and use it successfully and easily in the classroom.

In this workshop, you will learn that the following can have a profound effect on students’ understanding:

  • The way in which you draw a simple figure
  • Pointing out (what appears to be obvious) differences and similarities between concepts
  • Supervising the natural impulse of students to create their own generalizations
  • Starting with general ideas rather than examples
  • Using models as applications rather than as introductions

This workshop offers much to all teachers of mathematics. You will be greatly intrigued by the analysis of the act of abstracting and surprised by the simple and immediate classroom applications.

The LD student: Why don’t I get the math?:

Much research has been done and presented on learning disabilities. The focus of this workshop, which is an effective follow-up to The Underachiever in Mathematics (described above), is on the connection between learning disabilities and the mathematics classroom.

The workshop will look at the following:

  • Overview of several learning disabilities, including dyslexia, AD(H)D, non-verbal learning disabilities
  • In-depth look at DYSCALCULA, its characteristics and effective teaching approaches
  • How language difficulties affect mathematics learning and how to address these challenges
  • Background knowledge as it relates to mathematics education

This workshop gives teachers an understanding of the various learning disabilities, their characteristics and challenges in the mathematics classroom. Teachers will leave with tools to address these issues which create less frustration and more success in teaching and learning mathematics.

Situational Problems (QEP mathematics competency):

This workshop focuses on one of the major competencies of the Quebec Education Program, helping teachers understand the characteristics and goals of this competency.

This workshop focuses on:

  • The definition & characteristics of situational problems
  • The “geography” of situational problems to enable more effective teaching of the concepts
  • Rubrics for assessment of situational problems
  • An analysis of mathematical and other content of situational problems
  • In-depth study of sample situational problems to illustrate above concepts
  • Breakdown of teaching strategies to present situational problems to students

Too often teachers want to include situational problems into their curriculum but are not comfortable with this task. This workshop provides a thorough understanding of the elements of situational problems and, equally important, with a step by step guide to effectively teach and incorporate situational problems into their lessons.

Differentiated instruction & teaching strategies to support DI:

This workshop models differentiated instruction while teaching the key components of DI.

Participants will:

  • Understand the key components of DI through an introductory activity
  • Will be presented with the DI roadmap
    • General principals, content, process and product, readiness, interest and learning profile
  • Look at myths about DI
  • Understand the three basic learning styles in the classroom
    • Visual, auditory , kinesthetic
  • Look at differentiated assessment

Teachers will leave this workshop with an understanding of differentiated instruction and, more importantly, how to use the knowledge learned to develop effective teaching and assessment strategies to address the various learners in the classroom.

Teaching Strategies for Today’s Students that actively engage students, promote learning and maximize retention:

This workshop looks at effective teaching strategies across disciplines, using mathematics illustrations as much as possible.

This workshop will look at some of the following ideas:

  • Immediate engagement
  • Anchoring prior to instructions
    • Menu of the day, activating prior knowledge, pre-assessment
  • Maximizing student engagement during instructions
    • Addressing diverse learning styles, making accommodations, using a variety of teaching strategies, providing and structuring processing time, anticipating confusion, identifying similarities and differences
  • Demystifying the LD student
    • AD(H)D, dyslexia, non verbal learning disabilities
  • Classroom strategies

A solid curriculum is only one component of effective education. This workshop provides teachers with a deep understanding of the various learners in the classroom and appropriate teaching strategies, two of the key component to success in teaching and learning.

Detailed Teaching Units for Chosen Mathematics Topics

Tailored made, based on specific requests, these workshops will prepare detailed lesson plans for any mathematical topic. Some examples of topics highlighted: fractions, percents, integers, relations through the high school curriculum, 3 dimensional geometry, statistics and probability.

Included in these workshops will be:

  • A thorough analysis of the topic to ensure teachers’ in depth understanding of the mathematical concepts
  • Teaching strategies, including discovery exercises, learning situations and appropriate activities
  • Detailed step by step approach to the topic including reference material and suggested student exercises
  • An understanding of the specific concept in terms of the larger goals of the program
  • Real life applications of the topic studied
  • Suggested timelines

Participants will leave with a unique teacher’s resource containing everything they need to ensure student understanding of the chosen topic.

The Locker Problem:

This workshop presents the famous locker problem which is ideal to teach or review concepts in basic number theory.

Through the use of the locker problem, teachers will:

  • Challenge and excite students to solve an interesting problem
  • Teach effective problem solving strategies
  • Present or review concepts in number theory such as: factors, multiples, perfect squares, prime and composite numbers

Through the use of this problem, students go beyond their basic knowledge of number theory concepts while having fun and learning how to solve challenging problems.

Let Them Use Their Bodies

Students need to get up and move! This workshop incorporates physical participation to develop understanding of mathematical concepts.

Teachers will be shown how students can use their bodies to:

  • Create a human ellipse
  • Be coordinates on the Cartesian plane
  • Become angles
  • Slide, flip and turn

Clearly, this will be great for the kinaesthetic learner, but all students will thoroughly enjoy themselves!

Using Geometer’s Sketchpad to Truly Understand Geometry:

Watch and be amazed at how every student becomes quickly engaged in the study of geometry using this dynamic software.

Geometer’s Sketchpad (GSP) allows students to manipulate figures, discover relationships and develop a deep understanding and appreciation of geometry.

In this workshop teachers will learn:

  • How to use the software
  • How and why GSP keeps students actively engaged in their learning
  • How the “drag” test ensures thorough understanding of concepts
  • The 3 approaches of GSP: guided explorations, open ended investigations and visual demonstrations

Teachers will leave this workshop completely impressed with the power, simplicity, and accessibility of the software. They will be ready to immediately integrate the knowledge gained in this workshop into geometry lessons for all levels of learners!

How to use Algebra Tiles Effectively:

Whether used on line or hand held, algebra tiles offer a concrete alternative method to developing an understanding of basic algebraic topics.

Use algebra tiles to study:

  • Operations with integers
  • Concept of polynomials and the four operations
  • Factoring quadratic expressions
  • Solving algebraic equations

Participants will explore this wonderful tool and be amazed at how difficult abstract concepts become easily attainable by all students.

Effective Use of Manipulatives to Understand Concepts

Students learn best by doing. This workshop will provide teachers with a variety of manipulatives, virtual and concrete, which can be used to enhance mathematical understanding.

Let students:

  • Use liguini to discover and understand geometry theorems
  • Play with discs to understand operations with integers
  • Use different colored ribbons to understand the building blocks of geometry
  • Perform a simple chemistry experiment to understand the concept of ratio
  • Handle motion detectors to understand graphs
  • Stack interlocking blocks to understand difficult concepts of percents
  • Analyze nets: Plastic models and torn apart baseballs to discover formulae for surface area and volume of 3 dimensional figures
  • Create 2 dimensional figures on geoboards to develop an understanding of area formulae and relationships between area and perimeter

Teaching, learning and most importantly, retaining mathematical concepts will never be the same after this workshop!

Using Excel Spreadsheets to Understand Specific Topics:

Excel spreadsheets are an incredibly useful tool in today’s technological world. Analyzing this software with students might be considered a worthwhile end goal; however, using this software to develop a deeper understanding of mathematics is even more powerful.

Participants will be shown how to use spreadsheets to develop student understanding of:

  • The difference between a calculator and a spreadsheet
  • The concept of ratio as a comparison of two quantities
  • The concept of variables and their use in word problems

Whether a novice to the technology or not, participants will leave this workshop with a new appreciation for its power in the mathematics classroom.