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# Marilyn Burns

The fourth graders I’m working with on a regular basis are learning about fractions. During a class conversation, one student declared, “Fractions aren’t numbers.” Most of the others in the class agreed. I tried to help with the misunderstanding by teaching a lesson about placing fractions on a number line.

March 16, 2016
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.
March 10, 2016
Place value is one of the most important foundational concepts about our number system. Watch my assessment interviews of second graders and learn how you can find out what your students understand about place value.
January 18, 2016
At a math workshop, the presenter suggested that students have opportunities to be producers as well as consumers of their learning in the classroom. I put this advice into action with fifth graders, using the activity of Fix It to provide students additional experience with comparing and ordering fractions.
December 11, 2015
In a previous blog, I described a lesson I taught to second graders using the wonderful children’s book One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab. At John Muir Elementary School in San Francisco, I observed two other lessons using the same book, one in Kindergarten and the other in fourth grade. The lessons were a joy to observe, and I feel that my own teaching repertoire has now been enhanced.
December 8, 2015
Students begin learning about the equal sign in the early grades, and Quack and Count by Keith Baker is a terrific children’s book for helping with this in kindergarten and grade 1. It’s one of my favorite children’s books for teaching math. (Yes, yes, I know I have lots of favorites.) Here I describe the lesson I taught and what occurred.
November 13, 2015
Are you interested in a lesson that combines a wonderful children’s book with activities that engage students with organizing data and reasoning numerically? Read about how lessons using Chrysanthemum unfolded in two classes.
November 10, 2015
Read how 7th graders collected and analyzed data about the frequency of letters. They chose sentences, recorded the frequency of letters, and put their data on a class chart. Then we compared the class results to the actual frequencies of letters. Engaging the students in collecting their own data gave them an authentic math experience, not rigged by me in any way.
October 18, 2015
I’ve taught students in grade 2 through middle school how to solve KenKen puzzles. If you’ve never solved KenKen puzzles yourself, or haven't engaged your students with them, read about how I’ve introduced them in the classroom. But be warned: KenKen puzzles can be addictive.
October 1, 2015
A comment posted on my previous blog was a Yikes! experience for me. The comment was about one of the ways to make 11 that I included in the book I created for my grandson’s birthday. The comment was a wonderful reminder about how arithmetic, algebra, and geometry connect.
September 23, 2015
My grandson Jeffrey just turned 11 and I created a book to celebrate his birthday. Now I’m thinking that making books like this might be a good class project for students. Take a look.
September 21, 2015
In my early years of teaching, children’s books weren’t typically where I looked for help when planning math lessons. But that has changed. I now rely on children’s books regularly for engaging students with math. Here’s an example.
September 9, 2015
Bring an open mind is #1 on a poster of Sara Liebert’s expectations for her fourth grade class. Lynne Zolli used that expectation when introducing a math activity to the students.
August 26, 2015
Using games has long been standard in my teaching, and for several reasons. Games capture students’ interest and engages them in learning math. They’re ideal when students have extra time. And they’re effective options for the paper-and-pencil practice. Here’s one of my favorites.
August 17, 2015
Here’s an idea that I was first introduced to about ten years ago by Nicholas Branca, a math educator who contributed profoundly to my thinking about math and teaching. I’ve tried presenting it as a math-in-three-acts investigation.
August 13, 2015
In my June 2 post, I described how students solved 99 + 17. Actually I described only part of the lesson. Now, in response to a tweet, I explain how I also had students think about one of the important mathematical practices.
August 11, 2015
I began a back-to-school session for elementary teachers by asking everyone to write an opening sentence for Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The teachers were surprised by the request—the session was supposed to focus on teaching math. What was the connection?
August 3, 2015
I’ve been tweeting since September of 2014, and I’m hooked. I never would have predicted that I’d join Twitter, much less enjoy it and benefit from it professionally. In this post, I describe my initiation into Twitter and what I’ve learned.
July 27, 2015
The 1-10 Card Investigation has a big payoff with students. It engages their interest, involves them with making sense of a problem and persevering to solve it, and gives them experience with evaluating their progress and changing course as necessary. Plus it has a playful aspect that too often is lost in math class.
June 29, 2015
I asked a class of fourth graders to figure out the answer to 99 + 17 in their heads. In this post, I describe why I chose that problem, include a video of how the lesson unfolded, describe a teaching error I made in a subsequent lesson, and more.
June 2, 2015