Build Math Minds

The Podcast

The Build Math Minds podcast is for my fellow Recovering Traditionalists out there.

If you don’t know whether or not you are a Recovering Traditionalist, here’s how I define us. We are math educators who used to teach math the traditional way. Flip lesson by lesson in the textbook, directly teaching step-by-step how to solve math problems. But now, we are working to change that to a style of teaching math that is fun and meets our students where they are at, not just teaching what comes next in the textbook. We want to encourage our students to be thinkers, problem solvers, and lovers of mathematics…we are wanting to build our students math minds and not just create calculators. If that is you, then this podcast is for you.

Listen To The Latest Episodes

Episode 62: The 80/20 Rule Applied to Teaching Math

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 62. Today I am talking about The 80/20 Rule Applied to Teaching Math.

This week over on my vlog, I talked about Teaching After The Coronavirus Shutdown. Specifically, how to plan for what to teach next year knowing that your students may not have gotten a quarter of the instruction they would have gotten in the grade before yours.

I shared about the document created by Achieve The Core that details out the Major Work of each grade level. The Focus by Grade Level document (or what was originally called the Content Emphases) shows the standard clusters that basically carry more weight in each grade.

At the bottom of each page of the Focus by Grade Level document, in very tiny print, it states:

“At least 65% and up to approximately 85% of class time, with Grades K–2 nearer the upper end of that range, should be devoted to the major work of the grade.”

That statement reminded me of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. It’s the idea that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Get all the resources mentioned in this episode at

read more

Episode 61: The Benefits of Inventing Algorithms

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 61. Today we are looking at The Benefits of Inventing Algorithms.

This past weekend I did a webinar each day that thousands of elementary educators attended. It was the same webinar just different days/times to allow for people’s scheduling. If you didn’t get a chance to attend you can still catch the limited-time replay for the next few days at The webinar was all about how to help kids develop their own ways of solving problems and not be reliant upon algorithms or strategies taught by the teacher.

My first glimpse into teaching math in this way was through the research of Thomas Carpenter, Elizabeth Fennema, and Megan Frank-e (1996). Then their book, Children’s Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction came out and gave me even more insight into opening up my teaching through the use of story problems to allow children’s thinking to help guide my instruction.

In today’s podcast I’m reading from that book about the benefits of inventing algorithms.

read more

Episode 60: Building Self-Reliance in Math

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 60. Today is an interview with 3rd grade teacher Cathy Palkovic and a theme of our conversation is about Building Self-Reliance in Math.

In this interview with Cathy we get into all kinds of things from what her distance learning looks like to Math Running Records to how her 3rd graders solved 898×52 without any guidance from her. We discuss how she has helped her students build their self-reliance through things she has learned and one of the things that has helped her along her math teaching journey is my Number Sense course. The registration for the courses are now open from May 1-14 you can go to to join a course but I’ll also link to the course and all the other resources Cathy mentions over at the show notes page

read more

Episode 59: The Harmful Effects of Algorithms

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 59. Today we are looking at The Harmful Effects of Algorithms.

It’s hard to not just teach kids algorithms because honestly, parents are expecting you to teach that to their kids and it’s also difficult if you yourself have only ever solved math problems using algorithms. But true fluency in math doesn’t come just by following rules and procedures it comes from being a flexible thinker. Get all the resources mentioned in this episode at

read more

Episode 58: Meaningful Mathematics

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 58. Today we are discussing Meaningful Mathematics.

In today’s episode I’d like to read a portion of an article that comes from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Normally I only link to articles on NCTM’s site that you can access for free. This article is not available for free but this article is just too good not to talk about…plus NCTM is doing a free trial of their membership right now. I’ll link to that free trial over at When you do the free trial make sure to select the option to receive access to the online archive of the Teaching Children’s Mathematics journal, that’s the journal that this article was published in.

On pages 312-313, William Brownell writes…

read more

Episode 57: How to Build Math Fluency

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 57. Today we are looking at How to Build Math Fluency.

Building kids’ math fluency can impact everything they are going to learn in math. It all starts with understanding what fluency really entails, how to build that fluency when it comes to the basic facts, and what kinds of activities you can be doing to build true fluency for students. That’s what you will get in the Building Math Fluency Starter Kit. To get yours go to

I’m going to read a section from the kit for today’s podcast.

read more

listen to the build math minds podcast on the go

You can now listen to the podcast on the go on your favorite listening platforms. Want episodes to your inbox so you never miss anything? Sign up for the newsletter via the button below and we’ll let you know when fresh new episodes are being published right to your inbox.

Past Episodes

Episode #0:  Welcome to the Build Math Minds Podcast

Episode #2:  Three Phase Lesson Format to create a Student Centered Mathematics Classroom

Episode #4:  Inspiration from Ann Elise Record

Episode #6:  Contexts for Learning Fractions

Episode #8:  Inspiration & Information from Jeni Veale

Episode #10: Making Number Talks Matter

Episode #12: Inspiration & Information from Lisa Kuo

Episode #14: The Teaching Gap

Episode #16: Inspiration & Information from Lemi-Ola Erinkitola

Episode #18: The Professional Development Gap

Episode #20: PD at Your Fingertips

Episode #22: Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic

Episode #24: Exceptionally Bright Children

Episode #26: Adding It Up

Episode #28: Teaching Mathematics Through Problem Solving

Episode #30: Inspiration & Information from Jessica Boyer

Episode #32: You have permission with Jess Hempel & Christine Farrell

Episode #34: Effectively Using Games to Build Mathematical Thinking & Reasoning

Episode #36: Encourage Student Perseverance and Authority

Episode #38: Look for and Make Use of Structure

Episode #40:  Purposeful Practice

Episode #42: Making the Case for Play in the Classroom

Episode #44: Making Sense is First and Computation is Second

Episode #46: Get Going Using Math Manipulatives with Lori Linsmeyer

Episode #48: Developing a Culture of Questioning Can Be an Agent of Change

Episode #50: Transitioning From Teacher to Math Coach with Peggy Loutzenhiser

Episode #52: Am I a Broken Record?

Episode #54: Free Resources

Episode #56: Stop Teaching

Episode #58: Meaningful Mathematics