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.


Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Ever since I heard this story, I’ve been working to change my communication with children about what is important. I think this comic says it better than my soapbox speeches. And you can substitute anything else for math, but I chose math because I hear that all the time.

*If you’re stuck on helping your child with a concept, try or other sites like to refresh your skills and make learning fun for both of you.

For more on why this is important, see this Scientific American article titled The Secret to Raising Smart KidsIt has some citations to research showing why this is so important at the bottom of the article.

Also, if I dare mention it, this is why I think Common Core State Standards Mathematical Practice 1 (CCSS MP.1), Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, is so essential. The way we have gone on historically has led to a lack of perseverance, but changing our values and how we speak about them can turn it around.

Feel free to share, and teachers and presenters, please feel free to use these comics in your work. Let me know if you do and how they came across if you feel like it.

And as always, please comment below!

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!

New Presentations for the Fall

Monday, September 26th, 2011



As the fall gets into high gear, I will be getting on the road again. If you’re in New York, try to attend NYSCATE this year and register for my session on Singapore Math on Sunday, November 20. If you can come on Saturday, I will be giving a three-hour workshop on NaNoWriMo in the classroom, which will be fun and hands on.

I will also be offering six Singapore Math full-day workshops this fall, starting in October and ending in December. The schedule and links to register for those, and for the conference, are at the bottom of my Professional Development page. If you come, be sure to tell me you saw this website, and you will receive a special little gift!

NCTM Illuminations 2011

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011



This summer I gave a three-hour workshop on Singapore Math model drawing at the NCTM Illuminations Institute in Reston, VA. This was a fun workshop with a great group of people, and we accomplished a lot of model drawing practice and understanding.

I was pleased to see recently that the workshop received a couple of mentions on the web. One is on the thinkfinity site, which is run by Verizon and which I first joined after attending ISTE 2011. The other is from one of the participants, who wrote a blog post mentioning it.

If you are interested in seeing what I can offer your school, please be sure to contact me.

Math & Science Professional Development Grants

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010


Teachers of grades 3-5, are you interested in a grant for professional development in science and math? Parents and students of a 3-5 grade teacher, are you interested in helping your teacher have a great opportunity to learn more math and science? The Mickelson Exxon-Mobile Teachers Academy is accepting applications through October 31. Be sure to apply soon!

How Far Can Singapore Math Take You?

Friday, October 1st, 2010


An article appeared in the Lowell Sun yesterday, and this article triggered more questions than answers in my mind.

Among other things, the North Middlesex Regional School District found spotty improvements in math test scores. The article said:

Brady and Muir discussed how the district’s use of so-called Singapore math is problematic. “We think Singapore math has taken us as far as it can,” Brady said.

Muir added that Singapore math does not align with MCAS frameworks but that the district is looking at other textbook publishers.

This raised some red flags for me. Singapore Math took them as far as it can? I don’t think so, because the curriculum can take students very far indeed – if it’s implemented correctly. I’ve had third grade students tackling sixth grade problems with ease and confidence after using the program. I’ve also seen how far above the level of the math students in even high-performing school districts my Singapore Math students have been.

Not only that, but one of my earlier posts links to a longitudinal study in Massachusetts, the same state as this article covers, showing that Singapore Math does indeed raise test scores – the same test as the students in the Lowell Sun article took.

So my questions are: how much, if any, help did the teachers receive in implementing Singapore Math? What levels of textbook did they use, and were they the right levels for their student population? Was it a rolling adoption or done all at once, so that the students at the highest grade levels were left with the least foundation? What struggles did the teachers have, and what types of support were they given?

Appropriate professional development is necessary to implement any new curriculum well. If this district wants to switch to yet another curriculum, will they provide the training required to equip the teachers for student success? If not, they will just be setting the stage for another failure.

Professional Development: What Do Teachers Really Need?

Monday, September 20th, 2010


My friend and esteemed colleague, Charles Fischer, brought to my attention the frightening lack of time and resources spent on professional development for teachers. His blog post relates a report from the National Staff Development Council and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education to his own experience with professional development. Here is a quote from the report that I found pertinent:

Analysis of a broad range of studies indicates that the kind of sustained professional development that increases student learning requires between 49 and 100 hours of contact on a single professional development focus. However, the report notes that in most areas, teachers were receiving less than 8 hours of training on a given topic, and the average reported number of hours of professional development in the United States was only about 44 hours combined across all six topic areas.

Compare this to Singapore, where teachers receive a broad, consistent education to start, and each year receive about 100 hours of continuing professional development. Now one reason why they are succeeding where others are struggling becomes obvious.

I travel to different parts of the country to offer professional development to teachers. I have heard from many how much they enjoy learning what I have to offer, but they bemoan the lack of time they are given to absorb the new material in order to implement it. A rare few have enough time, immersion and follow-up, for instance if they are able to attend professional seminars over several days, to catch fire with new and better methods and use them in their teaching. But this requires money, often out of the teacher’s own pocket, and this is simply out of reach for the vast majority of teachers.

In his blog, Charles lists a number of short workshops he has attended that have had little or no impact on his teaching, while longer ones transformed his teaching for the better. I’m sure many teachers could come up with similar lists.

If we really do want education to improve in this country, then we need to invest more time and resources in educating not just the students, but the teachers as well.

Read Charles Fischer’s excellent blog post here.


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