The Math Learning Center News Feeds

  • Educator Spotlight with Shelley Whittaker
    by Karrisa Barrera, Content Marketing on August 3, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    Meet Shelley Whittaker Elementary Educator at Frank W. Begley Public School in Windsor, Ontario  What inspired you to become an educator? First and foremost, my love of kids inspired me to become an educator. Also, I credit two all-star educators in high school—Nancy Lilliman and Rick McInnis literally saved my life. And based on the impact they had on my livelihood, I realized the incredible role an educator can have on the life of others. This planted the seed. What motivates you? Social justice, equity, social-emotional learning, kindness, belonging, and safety are my motivators in and out of the classroom. Love of learning, building bridges, and creating community are the foundation of my motivation, actions, and passions. What advice would I give my first-year teacher-self? Believe in yourself. Stop looking for approval and/or permission. You’ve got this—go and do it! Also, you’re in the business of kids. Keep them central to your focus and practice, and you will be on the right path. What do I love best about MLC? What I love the best about Math Learning Center is the versatility and accessibility of the tools! MLC was an incredible asset during virtual learning. The tools they offered were easy to use—across the mathematics strands and also across the curriculum. From screen sharing to the option to copy links and share, as well as screenshots and presentations, there were few limitations to the possibilities of use. These tools have become essential and will support learners in and out of my Room 205 during the 2021–2022 school year. I can’t wait to continue to find new and innovative ways to use them. What’s your math story? In other words, how do you feel about math and why?  My math story! I love this question. Had you asked me 7–8 years ago, my story would have been very different from the one I have to share now. In earnest, I hated teaching math because I struggled to diversify my instruction. I had my own “math anxiety,” which carried over into how I saw myself as a math educator. Then I had the privilege of working with our math coach, Kristen Wideen . She created a level of comfort and truly helped me transition to seeing math as visual and as a more open-ended exploration. Gone were the narrow views of right and wrong/only one way. Math became a creative zone to explore and see and become deeply involved in. In the past 3-4 years, Kyle Pearce  has continued to help me expand my thinking and skillset as a mathematics educator. The shift in my thinking from feeling wary to excited has transpired because of positive coaches, passionate colleagues, and an understanding that mathematics can be visual, hands-on, and creative. There are many inlets (and outlets) to meet learners where they’re at, within the context of their current skillset and level of understanding. The more access I have to quality tools and concrete materials, the more students and I see math as a journey rather than an outcome. I love all of the possibilities that exist within the realm of mathematics. Tying in art, computer science, reading, writing—making all of those connections, making math visual, making math relevant and meaningful—well, that’s been the game changer for me. My newfound love of teaching mathematics has also led to a shift in the tone of the learners. The more we are passionate about what we teach, the more engagement, buy-in, risk-taking, and learning will transpire. What do I love most about working with students? The privilege of connection. Of relationship. Of opportunity to foster and support a love of learning within students. Working with students is really a partnership. It’s a give and take. Students are brilliant and creative. They bring so much to the table. Teaching and learning are a reciprocal relationship. Every day I am challenged to grow. To do better, to be better. And this keeps life interesting. I am grateful for the privilege of working with the incredible young people (and their families) that I do! If you would like to nominate an educator to be highlighted, please email

  • Helping at Home: Mathematical Practice Cards for Families
    by Rosalyn Miller, Teacher in Residence at MLC on June 4, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    As teachers, we strive to develop classrooms full of competent, confident mathematicians, and we know the vital role families have in supporting that work. But families, in turn, may also need support. The Math Learning Center’s Mathematical Practice Cards for Families can help. The Mathematical Practice Cards are a simple set of four two-sided cards based on the Math Practice Standards and designed for quick reference. The cards may be stored or posted near where the child works at home for easy access. The front of each card introduces a Math Practice Standard in the form of a question and offers general tips for supporting a child’s mathematical thinking. The back of each card includes a set of questions that align with the standard. A previous post in this blog series and its accompanying handout, Helping at Home: Asking Questions, point out that by expressing curiosity, families can build a child’s confidence and encourage the habit of justifying their reasoning. A detailed understanding of the standards isn’t necessary. Families can make the questions a part of their routine by asking one or two each time they work with their child at home.  We suggest printing the cards back-to-back on cardstock, cutting them, and storing them in an envelope or on a ring for easy access. Welcome to our Helping at Home series. If you have ideas for future topics to support families, please share them in the comments section below. Up next: Using Language Intentionally .

  • Teachers Help Us Shine: Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week
    by Vi Tamargo, Curriculum Developer, Professional Learning & Karrisa Barrera, Content Marketing Manager on April 30, 2021 at 10:34 pm

    This year more than ever, we here at The Math Learning Center want to express our sincere gratitude to educators. We have watched you meet the challenges of this school year with grace, renewed commitment, resilience, and flexibility. You’ve inspired us with your creativity and innovation as we’ve watched you adjust course to not only support your students’ learning but to build community and connection in your virtual and physical classrooms.  During Teacher Appreciation Week, we want to express gratitude for our staff, many of whom are former and current educators. We’re also celebrating this special week by recognizing educators from the US and abroad. From Naperville, Illinois, to Saida, Lebanon — learn about these educators, the inspiring work they do, and the role math plays in their students’ lives. Alisha R. Smith | K–2 Math Specialist, Scott Elementary | Naperville, Illinois  “As a math educator, I am inspired by my students designing a strategy through their mathematical thinking and the ownership that results. When I see the flexibility in their thinking and problem solving, it makes me want to cry tears of math joy!” How do you use The Math Learning Center’s Bridges and other resources? “I used Number Pieces and Number Frames apps pre-pandemic to develop students’ conceptual understanding. It is important for students to have hands-on manipulatives, but it is also important for them to learn how to use digital tools. During the pandemic, the MLC apps were a lifesaver as an instructional tool and for giving students a vehicle to explain and show their mathematical thinking.” Anisha Bellvin | Grade K, Lakeland Elementary | Humble, Texas “My motivation is my students. Without them, what’s the point of teaching? I want my students to know that each morning when they walk through my door, I am happy to see them and that I love them. I remind them that they can do anything! Seeing them help one another and motivate one another motivates me. Watching them progress academically, socially, and emotionally motivates me. Getting to know each one personally motivates me. What their favorite snack is, their favorite video game, their favorite movie, what they like to do for fun, all motivates me because if they are having a bad day, I sense that and redirect their attention to something that interests them. It also puts a note in my mind to pull them aside later to give them a hug and ask how their day is going.” How do you use The Math Learning Center’s Bridges and other resources? “As a campus, we use the Bridges curriculum, but we also incorporate MLCs free resources. My students love using the interactive tools. I would say it’s their favorite part of the math lesson.” Christina Diaz | Grade 4-5 Dual Language, Downers Grove Grade School 58 | Downers Grove, Illinois “My students’ eagerness to learn motivates me to work harder and to be better. I love seeing their faces light up when they understand a difficult concept or when they show an interest in a topic. It motivates me to go more in depth and teach what they’re truly interested in.”  How do you use The Math Learning Center’s Bridges and other resources? “My favorite part about Bridges is seeing my students’ confidence in math grow over the course of the year. I love that Bridges allows them to fill their toolkit with many strategies to choose from to work with equations and combinations.” James Stark | Grade 2–5 ES ICT coordinator, Frankfurt International School | Oberursel, Germany “Teaching has been my one and only career in life, an opportunity I value greatly and one I consider a privilege. I believe that each day, we are fortunate to be both teachers and learners. I strive to empower my colleagues and students with both the confidence and the excitement needed to successfully navigate the ever-changing, global face of the technological landscape. Colleagues and students who are eager, willing, and ready to learn are the people who motivate me most. I take great pleasure in giving back, working with people and helping them learn. I hold a high value for education and consider myself a lifelong learner, eager to build positive relationships through the use of technology.” How do you use The Math Learning Center’s Bridges and other resources? “We are 1:1 with iPads in the elementary school. Each device is pre-loaded with all the MLC apps to enable students to develop their understanding and fluency for mathematical concepts through their easy-to-use digital manipulatives. The apps have been a valuable tool for our students to practice and demonstrate learning—at school, at home during online distance learning, or in hybrid situations. Teachers enjoy using the MLC web-based apps to model instruction and set rotational centers. They mention the Fractions and Math Clock apps as central to their practice.” Marian Ytem | Grade 1, Momentous School | Dallas, Texas “I teach to make a difference in the lives of my students. I love learning and I want to help my students discover that joy. My students only have one chance to be a first grader. I want to be that teacher they remember that made learning fun and memorable!” How do you use The Math Learning Center’s Bridges and other resources? “My favorite part of Bridges are all the digital resources—from display materials to blogs to the Resources & Support section of the Bridges Educator Site! My favorite part is Number Corner. We start our day with Number Corner and it flows smoothly into our day. My students love it! The huge plus is that Number Corner continues throughout the grades. When students go to second grade, they already have familiarity with Number Corner.” Monica Byron | District Elementary Math Coach, Richfield Public Schools | Richfield, Minnesota “I love to see students and adults get excited about math and learning. Math isn’t a single way of knowing, and this is why I love the Bridges program. Access to knowledge in mathematics has been, and still is, an equity issue. I believe mathematical knowledge provides multiple pathways into adulthood and every student deserves these opportunities.” How do you use The Math Learning Center’s Bridges and other resources? “I appreciate how Number Corner and Problems & Investigations weave together to build conceptual knowledge. This program lifts up students’ voices and empowers teachers to grow in their knowledge of math concepts.” Samia Henaine | K–5 PYP Math & ICT coordinator, Houssam Eddine Hariri High School | Sharhabil, Saida, Lebanon “For me, math was a nightmare during my elementary years. Things changed 180 degrees when I reached sixth grade. That’s when my new math teacher asked me to help a friend understand the ‘properties of triangles.’ And guess what? I discovered back then that I could help others overcome their mathematical problems. We both celebrated that moment with our eyes shining. This moment changed my thinking of math, my whole life, and my future. It flipped my mind and made me recognize to what extent I love teaching math. Now, the ‘aha moment’ from both students and teachers is the best motivation I can ever have.” How do you use The Math Learning Center’s Bridges and other resources? “The MLC apps have played a crucial role throughout remote learning. They give teachers and students an opportunity to visualize math concepts for all grade levels. For example, second and third graders use the Number Pieces app to model numbers with the base ten blocks. Teachers ask students to model a given number, find the new number after adding or taking away tens or ones tiles, compare two numbers by observing their representation, and group and regroup tiles. Fifth graders use the Number Pieces app as an awesome way to model fractions, decimals, and percentages and establish relationships among them. We asked students to write the decimal number and the fraction represented by a 100 grid. This activity led to a variety of answers and a fruitful discussion, as students all looked at the 100 grid differently. Some viewed the grid as a whole, others considered the column as a whole. Consequently, the answers varied, showing students’ understanding.  Math at Home is also a very rich resource for elementary teachers. We used the thinking routines and strategies in this section to help learners develop procedural fluency and reasoning and problem-solving skills.” Stephanie So | Grade 3, Gervais School District | Gervais, Oregon “I love watching my kids realize they CAN do math. It is so exciting getting to see them grow in confidence as they explore different strategies and perspectives in problem-solving. My favorite moments are when I step back and let them have the floor. I am constantly amazed by what they’re able to discover when given the tools and space to investigate and converse with one another. Witnessing the shift from ‘I’m just not good at math’ to fully embracing ‘I’m a mathematician’ always leaves me with goosebumps! Their tenacity and ability to move forward from mistakes inspire me to continue to take risks for my own growth.” What do you and your students love most about Bridges and other resources? “Work Places! I love getting to see students engage in math conversations.” Want to join in on the celebration?  Update your Zoom background with the Teachers Help Us Shine background. Right or two-finger click on the image to save and upload to Zoom.  Shout-out the incredible educators in your district and schools on Twitter using the hashtags #MLCeducators and #TeacherAppreciationWeek.

  • Earth Day App Activities: You Can Change the App. Kids Can Change the World.
    by Meg Susi, Senior Manager of Content Development. on April 17, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    We often ask students to notice the math in the world around them. On Earth Day, we can ask students to consider how they can have a positive impact on their world by preserving and protecting it. Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22. We’ve created a set of app activities to help you engage your students in mathematics while providing opportunities to discuss the importance of taking care of our environment. Changing Trees (Pattern Shapes App)  PreK–K A Growing Tree (Pattern Shapes App) 1–5 Dirt Detective (Number Frames App)  PreK–5 Powering Tech Time (Number Line App)  PreK–K 1–2 3–5 Farmland for the Future (Fractions App) 3–5 (Yes! The Fractions app now supports sharing! Our main math apps page has more about how to use this feature.) As you look at these activities, or at our Spring Into Math activities, you might find yourself thinking about ways to personalize these problems for your class. Did you know it’s easy to modify our app activities? You can customize problems to create extensions, use names of students in your class or locations in your community, change the theme of a problem, or adjust the mathematical content of a problem for a different grade band. Simply open the activity you wish to modify using the share code or link provided and make any changes you wish to the numbers, text, or supporting images (the video at the end of this post shows how easy it is to do so). When you are done with your modifications, create a new share code. You can display the new share code or distribute it using Google Classroom, Seesaw, or your preferred learning management system.  

  • Helping at Home: Promoting a Growth Mindset
    by Rosalyn Miller, Teacher in Residence at MLC on April 13, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    If you’re an educator, it’s been hard to miss the buzz about growth mindset and its impact on learning and achievement these past few years. The role families play in shaping children’s beliefs about themselves and their attitudes toward learning is invaluable. Carol Dweck, originator of the term growth mindset, says, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.” Based on Jennifer Christensen’s post “Partnering with Families Toward a Growth Mindset,” this Helping at Home handout titled “How Do I Promote a Growth Mindset in Mathematics?” offers families guidance on encouraging a growth mindset in their children.  If you’d like to learn more about growth mindset, check out the following blog posts: The Importance of a Growth Mindset by Andy Bishop. A teacher shares insights about growth mindset in a classroom setting. Mindset Matters Most by Daniel Raguse. This post invites educators to think more about their own growth mindset. The following posts offer suggestions for supporting growth mindset in a Bridges classroom: Sewing Together Geometry, Seesaw & a Growth Mindset by Caitlyn and Laura. Two second-grade teachers highlight their Unit 6 success stories. It’s Never Too Early to Teach Growth Mindset by Heather Neu. Listen as kindergarten students reflect on their growth as mathematicians. Three Tips for Teaching Perfectionistic Students by Andy Bishop. Learn how to support a growth mindset in self-critical students. Truly Wonderful & Getting Better by Alison Fox Mazzola. Here is an easy-to-implement phrase that teachers can use to spark positivity in students. Welcome to our Helping at Home series. If you have ideas for future topics to support families, please share them in the comments section below. Up next: Mathematical Practice Cards for Families.

  • REPLAY: Using Bridges Intervention in a Remote Setting Part 2
    by Mike Wallus, Vice President for Educator Support on April 5, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    During this 1-hour webinar, our curriculum consultants led a guided exploration of the Bridges Intervention resources created for the 2020–2021 school year. Participants experienced a Volume 5 intervention session and engaged with apps, Google Docs, and Work Places. Find the full replay here: This webinar was a follow-up to a previous session on using 2020–2021 resources. The replay for Part 1 of Bridges Intervention in a Remote Setting is available here.

  • Introducing Math at Home Activities for Seesaw
    by Vi Tamargo, Curriculum Developer, Professional Learning on March 26, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    The Math Learning Center is excited to offer a selection of Math at Home activities on the Seesaw platform! Seesaw, with its ability to capture student thinking via voice and drawing, is a wonderful tool for Math at Home activities.  Math at Home provides families, educators, and students with rich activities to engage in deep mathematical thinking, no matter where their learning happens. The activities align with key mathematical concepts, preserving crucial Bridges elements—flexible thinking, mathematical problem-solving, and discourse. As an example, here is a Grade 1 Same & Different activity on Seesaw. Grade 1, Same & Different: What’s in My Robot? in the Seesaw platform  The Seesaw platform gives students several options for constructing meaning, sense-making, and communicating their reasoning. Seesaw tools invite the use of voice or screen recording to explain their thinking and share their work—especially important for primary students. Math at Home activities for Seesaw from K–2 Sets 5 and 6 are now available on the Math at Home site and on The Math Learning Center Seesaw author page, with more coming soon. And watch for some activities for Pre-K and Grades 3–5, now in development for release soon.  We hope you and your students enjoy Math at Home for Seesaw! Please feel welcome to share this free and public resource with families.

  • Spring Into Math with MLC Math Apps
    by Shelly Scheafer, Bridges Teacher on March 24, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    It’s spring! The sun is shining, plants are growing, and frogs and bugs abound. At The Math Learning Center, we’ve created some fun app activities with springtime themes to help get your math blooming! Like February’s popular Share the Math Love celebration, each of the following activities includes the Share Your Work feature. You can send students a link or code to access the activity, whether they’re using devices in your classroom or at home. Prompt 2: Let’s Get Hopping! (Grades 1–2 version) For example, you might share the code for the Same & Different Geoboard Flowers (Prompt 1) with your class. After students explore how the two images are the same and how they’re different, invite them to design a third flower with the Geoboard app. When done, students can share the code for their flower design with a partner. Pairs can take turns explaining how their partner’s new flower is the same as and different from the original flowers. Prompt 1: Same & Different Geoboard Flowers (Grades PreK–5) The Ladybugs! prompt invites students to think about possible combinations of red and yellow ladybugs. After students have found some solutions with the Number Frames app, ask them to generate a code or image to share with you. Select and sequence some of the student work for your discussion. As students talk about the displayed examples, you can use the app’s writing or drawing tools to highlight and reinforce their thinking. Prompt 7: Ladybugs! (1–2 version) Are you wondering how we got the frog into the Number Line app or the leaves into the Number Frame app? They’re emojis. You can add emojis to any of The Math Learning Center apps. First, use the Writing Tool to open a text box. Then, right-click (Control-click on a Mac) in the text box and choose Emoji and Symbols from the menu. Click the emoji you want, and select Done. Use the big A or the small A at the top of the text box to adjust the size. You can also add emojis with the Equation tool by following the same steps. Whether you’re teaching your students in person, online, or a combination of both, we hope these activities bring you some spring rejuvenation. Let’s get hopping and spring into math! Prompt 1: Same & Different Geoboard Flowers PreK-5 Prompt 2: Let’s Get Hopping! PreK–K 1–2 3–5 Prompt 3: Jillian’s Bugs  PreK–K K–2 3–5   Prompt 4: Frog Races PreK–K 1–2 3–5 Prompt 5: Which Butterfly Frame Doesn’t Belong? PreK–2 3–5 Prompt 6: Growing, Growing, Growing! PreK–2 3–5   Prompt 7: Ladybugs! PreK–K 1–2 3–5

  • Getting (Re)Started: Supporting Educators’ Transition to Face-to-Face Learning
    by Mike Wallus, Vice President for Educator Support on March 23, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    Given the past year’s unique circumstances, we know many teachers are thinking about how Bridges will look and sound once when they return to in-person learning. The Math Learning Center is pleased to introduce Getting (Re)Started; a series of three webinars, designed to support teachers as they transition from remote to in-person learning.  Our curriculum consultants LaKeshia Cooper and Jennifer Christensen will lead an engaging review and discussion of the instructional practices that create the Bridges classroom experience. Each 45-minute webinar will focus on one of the three core components of the Bridges curriculum: Problems & Investigations, Work Places, and Number Corner. The webinars will be held on May 25, 26 and 27.  Registration is now open and available to all Bridges educators at no cost.  Tuesday, May 25th, 4:00 PT: Getting (Re)Started with Problems & Investigations Wednesday, May 26th, 4:00 PT: Getting (Re)Started with Work Places Thursday, May 27th, 4:00 PT: Getting (Re)Started with Number Corner

  • Helping at Home: Asking Questions
    by Rosalyn Miller, Teacher in Residence at MLC on March 18, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Raise your hand if you’ve heard a parent or guardian ask how they can help with home learning. Providing guidance to families can play a critical role in establishing a growth mindset in children. We know that a large body of research has confirmed the impact of parents’ beliefs about math on their children’s achievement. (See this article from You Cubed to learn more.) As Bridges educators, we also understand the importance of valuing a child’s process in problem-solving as much as or more than the answer itself.  The challenge is that best practices in mathematics education run counter to what most adults experienced learning mathematics as children. For many, memorization, getting the answer, and getting it quickly were the cultural norms they experienced. While many adults openly acknowledge the anxiety these norms created, they may find themselves confused or frustrated when they try to help their children. How might we build our families’ toolkits so they are better equipped to offer support? As Jennifer Christensen points out in her post “Partnering with Families Toward a Growth Mindset,” the first step for families is to talk to their child.  This one-page document, titled “Helping at Home: Asking Questions,” suggests two rules of thumb and offers four simple questions that are appropriate across grades and mathematical content. Although not directly cited in the document, the questions align with the four categories in the Math Practice Standards and are drawn from the Questions That Elicit the Math Practices chart from Section 3 of the Bridges Assessment Guide. We know that families want to help. The next time you’re asked how they can do that, smile and share a few pointers for talking with their child. Welcome to our Helping at Home series. If you have ideas for future topics to support families, please share in the comments section below. Up next: What Do I Do When My Child Makes a Mistake in Math?