All Posts By

Marilyn Burns

DecimalsGeneral InterestMultiplicationNumber and OperationsNumerical ReasoningReal-World ProblemsVideosWord Problems

When You Multiply by 10, Just Add a Zero? Horrors!?!

Have you ever asked students to solve 12.6 x 10, and they respond that the answer is 12.60? I have, many times. Students who do this apply a pattern that works when they multiply whole numbers by 10—they tack on a zero to the end of the number they’re multiplying. But then they apply the same pattern when working with decimals. What can we do?
Marilyn Burns
October 1, 2018
DivisionGeneral InterestNumber and OperationsNumerical ReasoningReal-World ProblemsSilent MathWord Problems

One Lesson, Two Pedagogical Mistakes

I believe strongly that mistakes are learning opportunities. At least that’s what I regularly tell students. But it sometimes feels different when the mistakes are mine . . . and especially when they are pedagogical mistakes that I make while teaching. That happened to me recently when teaching a lesson to fourth graders.
Marilyn Burns
January 1, 2018
DecimalsNumber and OperationsNumerical Reasoning

A Decimal Lesson . . . about 13/20 and More

I love Twitter. On November 3, 2017, I saw this image in a Tweet posted by @MarkChubb3. The image stuck with me for several days. After talking about it over dinner with a teacher friend, and then again over lunch with another, I became curious to find out what students might think. I made arrangements to “borrow” three fifth-grade classes and made plans to teach the same lesson in each class.
Marilyn Burns
December 19, 2017
GamesGeneral InterestMath MenusNumber and OperationsNumerical Reasoning

Oh No! 99!

The card game Oh No! 99! is a keeper! It gives practice with mentally adding one- and two-digit numbers and with adding and subtracting 10 from two-digit numbers. The game encourages strategic thinking as students decide which cards to play and which to keep, and it’s also useful as an informal assessment. Read about how the game was used with second and fifth graders.
Marilyn Burns
March 5, 2017
General InterestMath Menus

Using Math Menus: Some Nuts & Bolts

This blog post resulted from an email exchange I had with Jill Downing, a Title 1 Educator with the Helena Public Schools in Montana. My recent blog about using the children’s book 17 Kings and 42 Elephants included a link to an article I wrote, “Using Math Menus.” Jill read the article and was interested in more information. Her questions pushed me to reflect on some of the nuts and bolts I use when organizing math menus. Here I share what Jill wrote and how I responded.
Marilyn Burns
February 20, 2017
AssessmentBooks by MarilynDivisionGeneral InterestMath and LiteratureMultiplicationNumber and OperationsNumerical ReasoningProblem SolvingWord Problems

One Lesson, Three Grades, Three Twists

The children's book 17 Kings and 42 Elephants by Margaret Mahy is one of my long-time favorites. In this post I describe a division lesson that I’ve taught to third graders but recently revisited with fourth- and fifth-grade classes. With the older students, we tried extensions that differentiated the experience and put students in charge of deciding on problems for themselves. It was exciting to me to expand a lesson I've taught many times into a multi-day investigation.
Marilyn Burns
January 30, 2017
GamesGeneral InterestMultiplicationNumber and Operations

Multiplication Bingo

Will Multiplication Bingo guarantee that students learn the multiplication facts? No. But it will help familiarize them with factors and multiples, engage them in a game that involves both luck and strategy, encourage them to make conjectures, and have them use data to guide decisions. Plus, the game provides a way to send home information to families about how their children are being asked to think and reason in math class.
Marilyn Burns
November 28, 2016
AssessmentDataGeneral InterestNumber and OperationsNumerical ReasoningReal-World Problems

Beans and Scoops

Lessons using beans and scoops have long been part of my teaching repertoire. I’ve used beans, scoops, and jars to engage students in all grade levels with a variety of mathematical ideas. In this post, I write about how I recently taught a lesson to give students experience with estimation, averages, multiplication, and more. Read about how I planned the lesson, how it unfolded, and suggestions for extensions and other lessons.
Marilyn Burns
November 1, 2016
General InterestNumber and OperationsNumerical ReasoningPlace Value

A Reponse to Joe Schwartz’s Blog about Algorithms

I was recently planning to teach my friend Ruth Cossey’s elementary math methods class at Mills College in Oakland, California. Digging through my collection of student work, I found a paper from a third grader I had interviewed. When doing interviews, I typically ask students to figure out answers in their heads, but I agreed when Nomar asked for paper and pencil for some of the problems.
Marilyn Burns
April 4, 2016
GamesMultiplicationNumber and OperationsNumerical Reasoning

The Game of Pathways

I like the multiplication game of Pathways. It engages students’ interest, helps develop their familiarity with the times table, and encourages them to think strategically. It's been a part of my teaching for a long time. Recently I came up with a way to introduce the game that made it easier for students to learn to play. It was a huge success. Read about what I did and how the students reacted.
Marilyn Burns
March 10, 2016