Independent Common Core Math Curriculum Reviews

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 graphic

Click on thumbnail to go to site

I’m pleased to report that an independent non-profit organization,, is reviewing new Common Core math curricula. I sometimes get asked about my opinion about the different options, but it’s hard to respond when there are so many new materials that I haven’t seen, and I am only one person. While the reviews don’t address every curriculum, they do address many of the available Common Core options. If your district is considering adopting a curriculum, please consider the detailed reports here.

They also have a graphic that shows the alignment in a visual format. Click the thumbnail to view it.

To toot my own horn a bit, Eureka Math (also available on, of which I was on the second and fifth grade writing teams, is getting the highest praise of any of the curricula reviewed so far here, especially at the elementary level. I am no longer connected with the company, or any curriculum company, for that matter, so you can believe me when I say that I joined the teams because of the quality of their approach, pedagogy, and curriculum team excellence. While there are still kinks to work out, I think the curriculum is top quality.

In case you are interested in professional development, I do offer that to schools and other groups. Please feel free to contact me to inquire.

New Eureka Math Books Available

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Common Core Mathematics
Yesterday, an exciting package came in the mail: the first two published modules of the Common Core math curriculum for Grade 2, complete with my name on the inside! Even though it was only listed for Grade 2 (I’m writing on the Grade 5 team too), it was nice to see my name on another publication.

While all of the modules can be downloaded and printed for free from EngageNY, it may save money and time for schools to buy the printed books. Print editions are available from Great Minds, or you can order individual books for homeschooling, enrichment, or preview from Amazon.

creditsI’m proud to be part of writing such a strong curriculum with powerful roots in Singapore Math approaches!

Have questions about the curriculum? Leave them below in the comments, and I’ll answer them as well as I can, and if I don’t know, I’ll do my best to find out the answers!

More Math Apps for iPad: Singapore Math and Common Core

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

It’s been a while since my last post on iPad apps, and in the meantime a lot has happened. For one thing, I have downloaded and tried quite a number of math apps. I’m going to start a round-up of some of the most useful apps as I have time.

number bondsFirst up: exciting news! The Number Bond software, that I lamented being only on Mac or PC for so long, is now ported to iOS. As far as I can tell, having downloaded only the addition/subtraction version, it’s pretty much exactly the same as the computer version.

This has its pros and cons. Pros: the familiar interface, its simplicity, and the fact that it does one thing – it teaches number bonds at different levels. Cons: In light of the outstanding, more powerful software out there, it takes advantage of very few of these features. For example, it is not adaptive, meaning the difficulty does not change with the user’s proficiency. It also does not save user data, something the better educational software is doing (as I’ll discuss later), even emailing it weekly to the parent or teacher if desired. It also has a few bugs to iron out, which I’m sure will happen soon.

So would I recommend it? Yes, as a practice tool for a child at home or as a station in the classroom – but I would love to see it get more developer attention and become more powerful.

Download Number Bonds: Addition & Subtraction to 99

Next up: AL Abacus

For anyone teaching/homeschooling with Singapore Math or a Common Core curriculum, such as Eureka Math, or working with a child with a math learning disability, you will find  that the Slavonic Abacus, or Rekenrek, is incredibly useful for teaching number sense and place value. It breaks down numbers into groups of five and ten, which are easy to manipulate mentally, not least because our hands are right in front of us since we are in the womb, with five fingers each (otherwise known as digits!). While having the concrete manipulative is ideal for sensory feedback, sometimes teachers want to project the abacus to a group, or show a demonstration to a small group. This is where the iPad version, AL Abacus, comes in.

AL Abacus to 100This app is a Slavonic Abacus with two modes. The first is the side with numbers to 100. To access this side, hold the abacus in landscape (horizontal) mode. When all the beads are to the right, it is like pressing “C” (or Clear) on a calculator. To reset all the beads, just tilt the iPad to the left – exactly like on a real abacus. Just slide single or groups of beads to the left to add, subtract, multiply, or divide within 100.

AL Abacus to 1000sThe second side is accessed by turning the iPad to portrait, or vertical, orientation. In this mode, you can work with numbers to 1000, with different columns of beads representing the different place values. This can be a very powerful, easy tool for computing whole numbers through the thousands. To reset the beads, just lift the iPad up, and the beads all fall to the bottom.

Incidentally, this second side was designed by Dr. Joan Cotter, who did her doctoral dissertation using it. Her website, with additional resources, including how to use the AL Abacus, is

This is an almost perfect representation of a physical version of the abacus. There are only two things missing, in my view: the sound of the beads clicking together, which would be great sensory feedback.

Download AL Abacus – Activities for Learning, Inc.

Since this tool is new to many people, here are some other resources besides just the iPad version.

Do you have other ideas or resources for teaching number bonds or using the Rekenrek? Post them in the comments!

New Parent Workshop: Understanding Math Education

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Over my time as a math teacher, I’ve met hundreds of parents and teachers who all came to me with the same fundamental need: “I don’t feel good at math or confident enough to help my child (or students).” We rarely hear this from parents about literacy – everyone knows it starts with reading to your child – which speaks to the gap in our culture between literacy and numeracy.

Teaching Singapore Math and training teachers in it for years has deepened my understanding of how math works in ways I would never have believed possible. While previously I was just “good at” math, the subject now reveals its magic to me on a daily basis. I love the “ah-ha!” moments when a previously mystifying concept comes to light in a child’s – or adult’s – mind.

Reaching adults hasn’t always been easy, though. I’ve played with the idea of offering online courses, but I haven’t had the blocks of time to devote to setting this up, plus it seems impersonal to me. Professional development courses in schools are expensive and available only to teachers, while many parents long to be able to help their children, especially if they homeschool.

This led to the idea of offering local workshops. We are piloting one at Think on Hudson on May 18 from 2-5 PM. It will be limited to 20 participants, and Garry, the CEO, will be offering free child care and perhaps classes for the children. I am keeping the cost minimal so everyone who wants to can attend.

May is a very busy time, and not everyone will get to attend. Therefore, assuming it goes well, I am planning to offer access to the video of the workshop and the booklet at a discounted price afterwards. If there is enough interest, I may even offer it live via Google Hangout.

Please register here if you are interested. You can also see the Facebook event here. We would love for you to come!

Will Scardale continue to succeed despite budget issues?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011


Scarsdale, NY is a model district in terms of scores and success. They attribute this success to five building blocks in their curriculum: Singapore Math, inquiry approaches to science and social studies, fluency in information technology, and creative arts. Yet they are having to cut teachers and programs due to budget constraints. They contrast this to China, which funded five educators to visit their district.

Will Scarsdale have to cut back on their successful programs? Meetings of the Scarsdale Forum are happening during February. Read more at this Patch article.


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