Teaching Math
A Few Tips and Tricks     

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iwebquest.com seminars and workshops
The teaching staff at iwebquest.com has developed award-winning webquests for the past four years.  Recently, we gathered our collective knowledge and expertise to create a comprehensive webquest program.  iwebquest.com's talented staff of Classroom Teachers/ Presenters will work with you to customize a webquest program that meets your needs to integrate technology into your curriculum. You can now choose from a wide variety of seminars and hands-on workshops that guide you through the process of locating great webquests, creatively using webquests with your students, and creating your own webquests.  

We offer a range of opportunities from our half-day Introductory Workshop to our five-day Technology Integration Seminar that are designed to meet your technology integration needs.  Contact our event coordinator, workshops@iwebquest.com, to get more information about customizing a workshop, scheduling availability, or pricing.

Explore several of the workshops and seminars that we offer by visiting our Workshops page.


Graph Club 
Are you looking for an interactive program  that will help your students construct graphs from data that they have collected?  Are you looking for easy to use software that helps your students to easily compare line, bar, and pie graphs that present the same data?  Then, Graph Club is the perfect software for you.  Graph Club makes it easy for your students to record their data and with a click of a button convert data into great looking, accurate graphs.  

Site(s) of the Day
There are now a wide variety of "site of the day" web pages out there on the Internet.  These sites range from "Word of the Day" sites, "This Day in History", "Math Challenge of the Day", "Astronomy Picture of the Day"....  Many of the teachers at iwebquest.com use these web sites each morning to focus their students and to get their creative juices flowing.  Here is how we do it!  First, assign a student the class job of turning the computers on and bringing up a "site of the day" each morning.  Second, provide students with plenty of reminders to check out the "site of the day."   Third, encourage students to use the knowledge they obtain from the "site of the day"  to lead class discussions and add to class work.  "Site of the day" can be an excellent way to integrate technology into your daily routine.


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Teaching Math: Math Class in Mr. Durant's Room (A Model!)

I haven't always loved math class but I take my role as a math teacher seriously.  After seven years of teaching, I am finally feeling good about my combination of teaching basic math skills and then getting kids to apply those skills while solving real-life math problems.  My own students are enjoying math like they never have before, they are excelling on standardized math tests, and they feel confident in their math abilities.  What a change!  Here are some specifics on what my math program looks like.

I have set up my math class so that we are on a two week rotation.  The first week I teach math skills and concepts, while student work on a combination of learning those skills and finishing out math problem-solving challenge from the previous week.  The second week, our focus switches to math problem solving.  Students focus their work on our current problem while they continue to reinforce skills with Welcome to Math Practice Sheets, Reading Math to Learn, and skills type homework from their math textbook. The next week, we rotate back to focus on math skills.  The next week math problem solving becomes our focus.  This pattern continues...

Teaching Math Skills and Concepts

Welcome to Class Focus Sheets

We always start of our math class with a "Welcome to Class Focus Sheet."  These are sheets that give kids a chance to independently practice 30 quick math facts while getting settled for class.  If we are focusing on multiplication facts, I have folders on the front board numbered 0-12 where kids can pick up a corresponding multiplication sheet.  Students have two minutes to complete their page with 100% correct.  When they accomplish this goal, they are ready to move on to the next times table.  I have students keep their own chart to track how many days it took them to master each times table.  They often comment on how their practice leads to memorization, and memorization leads to mastery.

Math on Call

I have come to the realization that sometimes don't get what I am trying to explain to them.  I don't get offended by this, I realize that some students learn in a different way.  With this in mind, I have provided a class set of Math on Call for my kids research further information on a topic that we are studying.  Sometimes this research is done independently.  Other times, I will ask a particular student to research a topic. Still other times, I will have the whole class gather information on a topic we are all struggling with.  Math on Call puts the information in really kid-friendly terms with lots of illustrations and examples that kids can understand.


Each night I assign some math skill and drill homework for kids to get extra-practice for the next day.  This homework is usually just an extension on what we were learning in class but it gives kids still another opportunity to figure out hw to solve a problem, it appeases parent's wishes for math homework, and gives kids that extra chance to practice.  The next day, I create an overhead of the answer key and kids self-correct their work.  

Teaching Kids a Logical Approach to Problem Solving

Developing a Focus Strategy

I take each new math challenge as an opportunity to learn a new strategy.   I  chose a strategy that will help student to solve the particular math challenge we will work on.  I teach this strategy by discussing the strategy with students and then giving them an opportunity to try it out.  

check out some of the great Math Strategy sites.

Develop a Rubric

As a class, student are given an opportunity to share the work that they did while trying out the strategy we developed.  As students share we brainstorm what was great about the work that they did using their strategy.  For example, if students are learning how to use a diagram to solve the problem they share their diagrams and other student share their thoughts on what made that a quality diagram.  At this point we will often go back to Math At Hand to gather further ideas. I take all of our ideas and create a rubric out of them. Student will refer back to this rubric and others that we have developed to ensure that they are doing quality work.

Read and Solve the Problem

Students are given the problem their math challenge and they work to solve their problem.  I often have student work together to share ideas.  I have found that when kids have an opportunity to bounce their ideas of of each other they usually come out with a much better, well thought out answer.  Occasionally, I will have students work alone.   This gives them confidence in their own abilities and gives them practice working alone which is important when preparing for testing.

See Math Challenges or 
See Math Webquests


Communicate Your Math Work

I have found that many students do not know how to communicate the work that they have done to solve a math challenge.  I have students use their rubric that we created for this problem and past rubrics to guide the way they communicate their work.  We often have worked on telling what steps they took to solve a problem, explaining their reasoning of why they did that step, sharing strategies they use, including their math language, showing their work using representations (graphs, charts, illustrations...), and applying their math knowledge to make connections between this problem and another situation.

See Math Rubrics 


Conferencing  (Self, Peer, and Teacher)

I encourage my students to reflect on their work.  I have found that because students took a key role in developing the rubric they know what to look for when assessing their own work and are more likely to receive specific constructive feedback from their peers and their teachers. Each student must have at least one self-conference, two peer conferences, and a teacher conference.  


Published Draft

Students apply the suggestions that they received from their self, peer, and teacher conferences to revise their paper.  I require that the published draft demonstrates that students best work, be written in cursive or word processed, and that it is presentable.  When students complete their published draft I ask that they place it in order from the published draft on top, then the first draft with all conferences, then any other work that they may have done.  This order will show how their work developed and grew over time.

Presentation of Math Accomplishments

I always give my students an opportunity to share their work.  This gives them the chance to show off their great work, practice their presentation skills, and teach others about the strategies that they used.  Although, I have asked for only a simple presentation some students have really gotten excited and have used all sorts of technology to create fantastic presentations.

Authentic Assessment

At this point it is fairly easy to assess student's work.  I have already read the paper during a conference so I am familiar with their work.  Now, I can focus on the rubric and the improvements that they have made.  Using the rubric, I usually give specific feedback according to the guidelines we set up as a class.  

Math Portfolio

Our class has developed a two tier portfolio program that showcases students work and highlights their growth over time. The first tier is the Working Portfolio.  This portfolio holds all the student's math challenges in chronological order.  Students are encouraged to browse this portfolio to see their growth over time or to take out older pieces to revise some more.  The second tier is the Presentation Portfolio.  The students choose 3 of their best pieces to be placed into the Presentation Portfolio.  These pieces are chosen by the students to showcase their best work.  As student's math challenges improve they can replace pieces from the Presentation Portfolio with their better work and put their older pieces back into the working portfolio.  

Portfolio Defense (A Great Extra if You Can Do It!)

I have parent volunteers, other teachers, and members of the community come into our class three times a year to act as a "Portfolio Jury."  Students choose one of their math challenges to share with a jury member.  They present their piece defending why this is their best piece and describing how this piece demonstrates their personal growth.  This has been a fantastic way for students to reinforce our work with self-assessment, practice presenting in front of others, and show off their great work.


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iwebquest.com's Top Ten Math Books


Math on Call
Great Source Education Group





Math for Smarty Pants (Brown Paper School Book)

by Marilyn Burns




The Brown Paper School Presents the I Hate Mathematics! Book
Marilyn Burns





The Book of Think : Or, How to Solve a Problem Twice Your Size (A Brown Paper School Book)

by Marilyn Burns




Wonders of Numbers : Adventures in Math, Mind, and Meaning

by Clifford A. Pickover




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Math Curse

by Jon Scieszka



Writing in Math Class : A Resource for Grades 2-8
by Marilyn Burns, Susan Ohanian






Janice Vancleave's Math for Every Kid : Easy Activities That Make Learning Math Fun (The Janice Vancleave Science for Every Kid Series)

by Janice Pratt VanCleave





Getting Your Math Message Out to Parents: A K-6 Resource

by Nancy Litton





50 Problem-Solving Lessons: The Best from 10 Years of Math Solutions Newsletters

by Marilyn Burns





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This webquest was created by Matthew Durant     Teacher/Consultant
Created: December 15, 2000