Category Archives for "Teaching tips"

Should You Let Students Count on Their Fingers?

should you let math students count on their fingers?

Your kids are taking a test and you’re relishing in a few moments of peace when suddenly you see it.

What the what!?

Victor is totally counting on his fingers. Full concentration mode – one fingers, two fingers, three….

Wait a minute, is this kindergarten or pre-algebra class?

I have failed as a math teacher!

Or have you?

Check out this 3-minute video to discover just how concerned you should be when you see students counting on their fingers:

So what do you think? Share your thoughts with a comment below.

An Easy Way to Assess Your Class in a Flash

An easy way to assess your class in a flash

Please, please, please say -9.

You’re holding your breath in nervous anticipation. Algebra is not Eric’s forte, but he’s been making steady progress, and you’re hoping against hope that he’s finally figuring out how to multiply integers.

This was a fairly easy problem, one you think Eric probably hopefully has right. So you called on him to see.

But now he’s staring at you with those deer-in-a-headlight eyes. And it’s not looking good.

12? he murmurs.

Face palm.

Not only is Eric STILL having trouble multiplying integers but now you’ve embarrassed him in front of the whole class, further killing his confidence.

There’s gotta’ be a better way.

Enter the 1-2-3 technique – a simple way to quickly assess not only a single student’s understanding but also to quickly gauge how well the whole class is doing – all without embarrassing or singling out any particular student.

Check out this quick 3-minute video to see how you can assess your class in a flash starting tomorrow:

Guaranteed Success when Teaching Adding Integers (1 Positive & 1 Negative)

So many students struggle to add integers correctly. But when I teach adding integers using this method, my students understand and master it quickly.

Check out this simple, effective method for teaching students how to add one positive and one negative integer:


Treating each quantity as that amount of positives and negatives will help your kids to understand how to find the sum.

What’s your “Golden Nugget?” – the one key concept you took away from this video? Share it with a comment below.

An Easy Trick to Explain the Inequality Symbols

an easy trick to explain the inequality symbols

8 is less than 2.

-5 is greater than 3

0 is less than -1


As you grade Brandon’s quiz you quickly realize the problem is NOT that Brandon doesn’t know which number is larger but that he mixed up every single inequality symbol.


For such a simple concept, it’s surprising how many students mix up the inequality symbols. Maybe you’ve tried drawing an alligator or a bird or whatever other trick you can come up with to try to help them remember.

But this technique is so simple that you can teach it in a snap & your students will actually remember it.

Check out this easy trick to teach the inequality symbols in this short 3 minute video:

What’s your “Golden Nugget?” – the one key concept you took away from this video? Share it with a comment below.

Increase Critical Thinking with the Simple “Debate Your Cause” Technique

increase students' critical thinking skills with the debate your cause technique

Your lesson is going along great… Your class seems to be tracking with you until you decide to ask a question that actually makes them think.

“Why do you think a negative times a negative equals a positive?”


Then – joy of joys – a hand!

“Yes, Carl?”

“Um, could you repeat the question?”

One of our highest goals as math teachers is to develop critical thinking – to teach students to think logically and arrive at the right conclusions on their own.

But sometimes that feels, frankly, like Mission Impossible.

Enter the Debate Your Cause Technique.

It’s not exactly a silver bullet, but this simple technique is a fantastic way to get your students thinking and learning how to express their mathematical thoughts. (Yes, they really do have them….)

Check out this awesome & easy technique in this short 5-minute video:

How can the Debate Your Cause technique help accomplish Mission Impossible in your class? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.