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 66: Jump-start Math Class with Daily Routines

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 66. Today we are talking about how to Jump-start Math Class with Daily Routines.

I’m so excited that John is coming back this year to the present at the Build Math Minds Virtual Math Summit! John presented back in 2018 on Using Evidence to Find Misconceptions and Do Something About Them so those of you who are members of the Build Math Minds PD site go into the Virtual Math Summit area of the site and click on 2018, you will find John’s session in there.

If you haven’t registered for this year’s Virtual Math Summit make sure you go to to get your free registration. John will be sharing some of his favorite number sense routines that are in his new book Daily Routines to Jump-Start Math Class and in today’s podcast I’m sharing a little snippet from that book.

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Episode 65: Getting Started with Educational Equity

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 65. Today we are talking about Getting Started with Educational Equity.

Today I’m pleased to announce that someone I’ve been learning from about increasing Equity & Access in education has joined the line-up of speakers for the Build Math Minds Virtual Math Summit .

In my previous podcast I encouraged you to learn from Sheldon Eakins and the Leading Equity Center. I’m very excited that Sheldon will now be kicking off the BMM Virtual Math Summit and sharing with us 5 Steps Towards Equity.

So I decided that in today’s podcast I’d share an excerpt from a free resource Sheldon has on his website called Getting Started with Educational Equity: Ten Steps to Get You on The Right Path Towards Leading Equity. You can find it on his main site but I’ll also give the direct link to request that download from him over on the show notes page

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Episode 64: Building Our Minds…Not Just In Math

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 64. Today I am talking about Building Our Minds…Not Just In Math.

Just like the opening of this podcast always says, this podcast is about Building Math Minds. In my videos I say we have to “build our math minds, so we can build the math minds of our students.”

Well today is still about building our minds, but it doesn’t pertain to math. If we want to build the minds of our students we first need to build our minds…in all areas.

This past week has been a lot of reflecting and learning about racism. Go to for all the links.

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Episode 63: Admitting When I’m Wrong

Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 63. Today I am Admitting When I’m Wrong.

Last week over on my vlog, I talked about Teaching After The Coronavirus Shutdown. One of the things I recommended in that video was not using your textbook when you start teaching next year. Anytime I say things about not using a textbook I always get pushback. Yes there is research to show that fidelity to textbooks breeds good test scores, but it also breeds kids who hate math and whole list of things that I could go on and on about.

However, I need to admit that I am wrong because it really isn’t the textbook that I don’t like and that is causing all those things….it’s how we use that textbook. We’ve all seen it. Maybe you’ve even been that teacher. I know I was. I think back to how I taught before I learned about Cognitively Guided Instruction and how kids develop their math understandings. I approached and used my textbook way differently before that than how I used my textbook after.

The textbook didn’t change. My knowledge about how to build students’ understanding did and that impacted how I used the activities that were in my textbook.

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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

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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.

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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

Episode #60: Building Self-Reliance in Math

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

Episode #64: Building Our Minds…Not Just In Math

Episode #1:  Children’s Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction

Episode #3:  Balancing The Equation

Episode #5:  Bandaids and Bandwagons

Episode #7:  Beyond Pizzas & Pies

Episode #9:  Teaching Fractions for Understanding

Episode #11: Never Say Anything A Kid Can Say

Episode #13: Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions

Episode #15: Knowing Mathematics for Teaching

Episode #17: Why Leaders Should Eat Last

Episode #19: Elementary Math Specialists

Episode #21: Inspiration & Information from Jennifer Lagrange

Episode #23: Bottoms Up Hundred Chart

Episode #25:  Inspiration & Information from Carri Naumann-Monti

Episode #27: CGI-Using Kids Intuitive Mathematical Reasoning

Episode #29: Are you Indispensable?

Episode #31: Using your textbook as a guide with Christy Crees

Episode #33: Building Confidence in your Students with Melissa Barone

Episode #35: Features of Appropriate Math Tasks

Episode #37: Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Classroom

Episode #39: Executive Function’s Impact on Mathematics

Episode #41: Help Students Learn to Love Math with Kelly Sickle

Episode #43: Open Middle Math

Episode #45:  13 Rules that Expire

Episode #47:  Innovate Inside the Box

Episode # 49: Catalyzing Change

Episode #51: Choral Counting and Counting Collections

Episode #53: Fluency is not just Fast & Accurate

Episode #55: Teaching Math at Home

Episode #57: How to Build Math Fluency

Episode #59: Harmful Effects of Algorithm

Episode #61: The Benefits of Inventing Algorithms

Episode #63: Admitting When I’m Wrong

Episode #65: Getting Started with Educational Equity