Category Archives for "Teaching math"

Pick the Right Self-Paced Math Curriculum for Your Class

Students enter your classroom every day with different levels of experience and retention. Often, their unique needs are at opposite ends of the spectrum: one student needs you to walk them through 10 examples while another catches on after the first two examples and is ready to run ahead. If you've considered having a few students self pace within your math class we're going to share some tips (and things to avoid) as you choose your self-paced curriculum so it can work successfully for you.

Choose the Right Curriculum:

The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Your ability to manage a student working on his or her own is contingent on how well built-out your math curriculum is. 

Look For:

  • Videos for every lesson that include both notes and examples. Check how easy the videos are to access, navigate, and reference between you and the student. Watch a video or two to ensure the speaker is easy to follow and understand. Even better if there are scaffolded notes that mirror the content in the lessons. That way you can make sure the student watched the video just by seeing the completed note sheet!
  • Multiple practice set options. Self-paced students need multiple options for practice and review. Sometimes they will get it on the first try, and other times not. Look for an assortment of practice problems at varying depths of knowledge to accompany each lesson so you can use your time most effectively. 
  • Answer keys with worked-out solutions. Your self-paced math students will be checking their work as they complete practice problems. You'll save hours of time- and deepen their learning- if they can figure out on their own "why" their solution was incorrect.
  • A pacing guide that is realistic. Look at the pacing guide that comes with your curriculum. Ask yourself if the pace seems reasonable, and if it is easy to follow. Remember, a middle or high school student will be using it.


  • A curriculum that requires you to record videos. Be realistic about the time you can invest. Recording a few videos according to departmental procedures is one thing, but recording all the videos ahead of time will eat up hours of time you don't have.
  • Anything that requires a lot of discussion and inquiry. Investigation is one amazing way to help students own learning, but these activities require a lot of follow-up dialogue that is not always available for a self-paced learner. A few great options instead are to utilize a program with all the positive we listed above and supplement with resources such as Desmos or Illustrative Math activities. Again, we're not discouraging you from discovery learning. Instead, we're trying to help you manage your finite time in contact with students. Thus, we recommend making sure there is an achievable balance between investigation and direct instruction instead of going full tilt one way or the other.

Self-pacing students IS POSSIBLE with MathLight

Does this feel overwhelming? Yes, it's a lot to decide at the outset but... deep breath... you don't have to create everything from scratch and you don't have to reinvent the wheel. 

Find everything you need to succeed at self-pacing students with MathLight.

MathLight units meet all the content needs above! Plus, our founders use their decades of experience to create content that is easy to  implement in your classroom. See all that is packed into our units (lesson videos, notes pages, differentiated practice sets) by clicking here.

Ready to give MathLight a try? Self-pacing your students is possible with MathLight and you'll be convinced when you try out our Free Curriculum Bundle. Choose your bundle here! Then, when you're ready to commit to more find what you need in our find what you need to make self-pacing work for the long haul in our MathLight Store! 

Ensure Homeschool Math Success With These Tips

Homeschool math gets tricky when you get into the upper levels! Gone are the days of simple arithmetic. Now you're moving on to graphing, solving complex equations. PLUS, what's this about there being new ways of doing things?!

MathLight Video Lessons make teaching- and learning- so much easier!

We combine tried-and-true best practices with updated methods to ensure your homeschooled student gets the best of both worlds.

How does this freebie sound? You can getting 300+pages of homeschool math resources PLUS access to over 10 hours of video content at no cost to you! Just tell us where to send it! Get the totally FREE MathLight Introductory Super Bundle for Homeschoolers HERE 

Still, you might be wondering if you're leaving any valuable learning opportunities on the table even after your MathLight homeschool math lessons are up and running. That's why today we're bringing you our top tips to ensure MathLight video lessons bring math success for your homeschoolers.  

Tips to Ensure Homeschool Math Success With MathLight Video Lessons:

  • Print the note sheets. Your student will need access to the day's note sheet for every lesson. Print those pages ahead of time and have them easily accessible to your child. Consider keeping a notebook and 3-hole punch handy! Not sure about hand writing notes? There are lots of benefits to your student's math retention!  You can read more about those benefits HERE.
  • Make sure you (and your student) can access the videos. Follow the steps outlined in the "Video Access and Unit Contents" document found inside the unit folder you downloaded. Email us at [email protected] if you have any problems getting up and running. 
  • Require students complete the note sheets while watching the video. The note sheets make it easy for your student to follow along since they match what is used in the videos. Plus, videos can be easily paused or replayed from any point to catch details that may have been missed. Bonus: when he shows you a completed notes sheet you know your student has watched the entire video! 
  • Give plenty of time to practice. MathLight provides 3 levels of practice sets for its Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 units. Level A is for beginners, B matches an intermediate understanding, and C is for in-depth/advanced students. We suggest having your child complete two of these. Choose from either practice set A/B directly following the day's notes. Then, complete the second set (choose from level B/C) as a warm-up before learning the next day's instruction. Research shows there are many benefits to "forgetting" and being forced to recall prior information. Therefore, completing a second practice set is one way you can solidify content knowledge. Read more about MathLight differentiated practice sets in this blog post.
  • Make checking answers a time for learning. Our kids can learn so much from their mistakes. Yet, it often requires clear and intentional direction from nearby adults to make these learning opportunities a habit. With that in mind, we suggest having your student check his/her own work against the answer key. Then, don't allow Savannah to move on until she can explain WHY it was wrong. Was a negative sign forgotten? Did numbers get added incorrectly? Identifying the mistake clearly really helps make the learning stick.
  • Use quizzes as a chance to see if the learning "stuck". You can minimize quiz stress and help your student see quizzes for what they are - a chance to see if the learning "stuck." In order to do this, however, your attitude toward quiz scores may need to change. Remember, good scores reveal the content was mastered and poor scores simply mean a little more practice is required. Live that reality out. 
  • Quick Review Videos give a chance for extra practice. Watching Quick Review videos are the perfect thing after a poor quiz grade. Instruct your student to pause the videos as Rick works through the examples. Then, have him/her work the problem out on their own. Finally, press play to watch as Rick's work is revealed. Remember, sometimes the steps may be slightly different (your student moves the variables to the left of the equal sign and Rick moves them to right). However, your child should still wind up with the answer  shown in the video as long as his/her steps were all mathematically correct. 
  • Put students in the driver seat at review time. Every MathLight unit includes a review page. Over time your student will own their final grade if they know ultimately that they are responsible for the time spent reviewing. It may require a few times of falling flat, but the end reward is worth it!
  • Tests sometimes require retakes. Even the best student can have an off day. Create your own retake simply by pulling questions off unused practice sets (make sure you match the format of the test!) to create your own retake test. As a result, you still have the problems worked out since every practice set has an answer key! 

It may take a little time to get your student into these habits, but the rewards are SO worth it! Let us know what you think! 

Finally! A Simple Solution to the Pencil Problem

Have you been stumped by the "pencil dilemma"? You know - trying to figure out how on earth to ensure your students have pencils without spending half your salary supplying them?

Be stumped no more. We've found an amazing (and simple) solution. And Linda shares it in this video from our sister site here:

You can grab a pack of golf pencils here.

p.s. Did you know that our unit reviews help students succeed in a variety of ways?

First, we provide quick review videos, which allow students to refresh any topic they need in only about 2-3 minutes.

Next, students have a chance to practice each type of problem to build their skills and work out any confusion.

Finally, our guided review builds study skills by providing a checklist of important terms and concepts. Students can mark off concepts they already know and work through the checklist until they're fully prepared and confident.

Check out the guided review in our FREE integers unit here.

The complete guided review is included in each of our pre-algebra & Algebra 1 units - or save even more with the full curriculum!

Grab more MathLight units here.

unit review for mathlight - study skills for algebra

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How to Find & Correct Students’ Misconceptions

math teacher tips: find & correct student misconceptions

Every math teacher has scratched their heads and wondered, "where on earth did they come up with that answer?"

But that's actually a super important question, right? If we can figure out why they arrived at the wrong answer, we can help correct their misconceptions and get them to the right one.

But how exactly do we do that?

 We share a few ideas in this video here:

Here at MathLight, we try to point out common misconceptions as often as possible in our pre-algebra and Algebra 1 videos. And we reinforce the correct methods with our accompanying student notes.

Our teaching videos and notes can help in a variety of ways - from flipping your classroom to easy sub plans to helping catch up absent or struggling students and more!

You can grab video lessons individually - or save with units or the full curriculum.

Grab video lessons with notes here.

Want to Hear More Students Say “I Get It Now”?

math teachers - how to hear your students say

Recently, a pre-algebra student came up to me and said, "Wow, that really helped! I get it now." 

Music to any math teacher's ears, right?

What helped him finally understand? I explain here:

I absolutely love these quick review videos - and I know you will, too. They make it so easy to review concepts - whether as a group or for students to use individually.

All of our pre-algebra quick review videos are currently available for FREE on our site. Click here to get access to all our pre-algebra quick review videos.

They're also a key part of our full pre-algebra curriculum and are included in all of our pre-algebra units

The Algebra 1 collection is almost complete as well. Get all the quick review videos in our full Algebra 1 curriculum, or grab individual Algebra 1 units. 

Don’t Let Your Students Make This Common Mistake with PEMDAS

common mistake PEMDAS order of operations

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally is a great way to help students remember the order of operations.

However, it has one big flaw. A flaw that, if we're not careful, can result in quite a few mistakes - and a whole mess of confusion & frustrated students.

The good news is that all the confusion can be easily avoided with a simple explanation, which we explain in this video:

The confusion comes when students assume that since M comes before D in PEMDAS, then multiplication must come before division in order of operations (same thing with addition and subtraction).

To combat this, we must emphasize to them that multiplication & division go together in the same step. So do addition & subtraction.

With this simple tweak, our students should be able to use PEMDAS to remember the order of operations without any problems!

p.s. We have a great FREE order of operations activity for you to try out with your students!

It's a group activity where students first use order of operations to solve problems individually. Those answers reveal clues to the group's logic puzzle which they then work together to solve. 

Download your FREE Order of Operations Logic Puzzle Activity

The Question Great Math Teachers Ask

great math teachers ask this question

Do you ever feel stuck as a math teacher? Not quite sure how to get your students to understand a certain concept or frustrated about various classroom issues?

In this video, we share a simple question that can help reframe all of these challenges and put you on the path toward workable solutions - solutions that will benefit both you & your students!

Because we all know that our greatest goal is to see our students succeed - and asking this simple question will help you do just that.

Check it out here:

p.s. Have you tried out our FREE bell ringers yet? Grab them here:

5 Reasons to ❤️ Video Math Lessons

Video lessons can not only make your life as a teacher so much easier - they can also be a tremendous help to your students.

Check out this quick 30-second video to discover five simple ways video lessons can make your math class even more amazing:


The best news? Right now you can try out some of our best videos for FREE!

Click here to get FREE pre-algebra video lessons.

You can also grab individual video lessons with accompanying guided notes OR save even more money with our unit bundles.

Click here to grab individual video lessons or unit bundles.

video lessons with notes for pre-algebra and Algebra 1

How to Teach the LCM So Your Students Hardly Miss it Again

How to teach the LCM so your students hardly miss it again

Students can easily get confused when trying to find the LCM (aka the least common multiple). Add in variables and ask them to find the least common denominator of complicated fractions, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Unless, that is - you use this simple method to teach LCM.

My students rarely miss LCM problems anymore (or GCF for that matter). And I'm betting your won't either.

Check it out here:

p.s. Our pre-algebra LCM lesson teaches students to find the LCM using this exact method. Grab the individual LCM lesson here. Or save money with the complete Factors & Exponents unit.

This Simple Chart Makes Finding the GCF a Cinch

Ever wish you could snap your fingers and your students would automatically understand the concept you're teaching?

Well, I don't know about snapping your fingers, but if you use this simple chart, your students are sure more likely to understand how to find the GCF.

Of course, the magic is in the details. So check it all out here:

p.s. If you're loving MathLight, check out our full pre-algebra & Algebra 1 curriculums. Ask your administrator if you can use school funds - they're a phenomenal deal!