Listicle: Bryan’s Top 5 for Math

by Dr. Bryan Drost

I’ll admit it!  I’m guilty as charged.  Before I fall asleep after a long day of supporting teachers with instructional shifts, I secretly look forward to checking out Buzzfeed! Part of the reason that I head to this website is because it’s mindless.  The other reason, however, is that I’m always craving their latest listicle because the structure allows me to consume larger amounts of information with less effort.

Me being the standards nerd that I am, I had to come up with a listicle to help support the frustrations I’ve heard from educator leaders across our state whom are unsure of what resources to use to help support their teachers with instructional shifts.  This is where this blog entry comes in.  A quick and dirty listicle for busy folks who need to support teachers with mathematics.

Below, find my top 5 resources for math teachers, resources that I know you can use to help encourage instructional understanding which will in turn support student mastery in a format that will only take you a few minutes to digest.

P.S. For you Buzzfeed fiends out there, I promise all of the links work, there will be no Rick-Rolls, and there will be no banner ads in the rest of the post!

Bryan’s Buzz for Math Resources:

#5 – Math Guides.  Let’s face it.  One of the most challenging things for our teachers is that they’re not quite sure what good, aligned math instruction looks like in the classroom. Couple that with resources that aren’t aligned and the perfect storm sets in.  Use the Math Guides on Unbounded.Org to help teachers understand the standards and clusters and then show them some lessons that truly get at the three instructional shifts.

#4 – YouCubed Free Online Courses + IPGs.  Many math teachers struggle at conceptual understanding.  This is especially true of elementary teachers who were not trained as content experts.  Although there are pay-for online PD courses for teachers to learn the math on YouCubed, you can utilize the free student courses to help teachers understand what the classroom should look like (BONUS – teachers can have students use the site free as well).  Add in the Achieve the Core Instructional Practice Guide   to frame the discussion and you have a recipe for helping teachers analyze their own practices, a resource bank, and a free tool that they can use to self-reflect as well as design their own lessons.  I love 3-for’s.

#3 –  Rigor – I take this document and place 10 problems, some from each cate3-mathgory, on one sheet of paper.  Then I ask participants to identify what part of rigor each problem refers.  The first time I did a version of this activity with a roomful of principals, I had a high school and middle school principal get into a fist fight across the table.  Granted, there were more issues going on between these two former math teachers than I knew about.  However, if this resource can encourage such a strong reaction in getting at the difference between conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and application, it has to make this list.


#2 – Addition Mini-Assessment – This assessment changed my life and my teachers’ lives.  We never knew how many ways there were to ask addition and subtraction problems.  The most important part – neither did our textbooks! Once we worked through it together, the thought was that we needed more time to actually focus on the major work of the grade level. 2-math
#1 – The Coherency Map – This map was the brain child of Jason Zimba who mapped the standards out using wire.  It can easily be used from an intervention standpoint to figure out what skills a child is missing; but, it is also a great tool to show the importance of what happens in each grade level to support algebraic thinking that is the gateway to student success in mathematics.   Couple this with a coherency flash card activity and you’ve got one day of PD that participants will never forget.



Bonus Item: For getting this far, I challenge you to watch this TED Talk by Dan Meyer on why our math classes need revamped. Couple this with these resources in the Top 5 and I am sure that you’ll be on your way to improving our students’ mathematical achievement.

Stay tuned for a  listicle next week on my top language arts resources.