Maria's Math News, Vol. 77, November 2013

I love teaching, and I love math. This newsletter is my way of reaching out and helping you to teach it, too.

Welcome to the November newsletter!

This time, I discuss the value of mistakes in learning of math, and provide you with free lessons & worksheets, and some games. Enjoy!


 Each day thousands of teachers and parents use DadsWorksheets  to help kids excel at dozens of math topics... Will you join us?


1. Math Mammoth news
2. Brain growth and the value of mistakes in math learning (grades 1-12)
3. Free addition/subtraction lessons (grades 1-2)
4. Free multiplication and division lessons & worksheets (grades 3-5)
5. Games for GCF and LCM (grades 5-7)
6. Survey & your chance for a freebie

1. Math Mammoth news

Just a heads-up: the traditional Math Mammoth Thanksgiving sale is coming soon! I will send another email about it when it starts.

2. Brain growth and the value of mistakes in math learning

Read this entry as a web page

In this article, I discuss brain plasticity -- the huge potential for our brains to grow -- and what it means for learning of math: EVERY student CAN learn math. Students need to have a growth mindset where they value mistakes and see them as opportunities for brain growth and learning.

Our brain is a wondrous organ — and more so than perhaps any of us realize! It GROWS and CHANGES... by the minute!

I want you to hear about a young girl, Cameron, who had half of her brain removed. That's right - the doctors simply removed the right hemishpere of her brain in a surgery. The reason was a rare condition called Rasmussen's syndrome that caused violent seizures.

Cameron came out of surgery with the left side of her body paralyzed and immediately began intense therapy. She made an AMAZING recovery -- she can now run and play and is a good student at school. The left side of her brain took over for the right side in an extraordinary manner. She only has a slight limp and has lost some peripheral vision. No other lingering effects from the surgery!

Source: Wikimedia

It is called brain plasticity - the ability of the brain to change, grow, and rewire itself to meet new challenges.

And, our brains have a huge potential for that.

Watch the video on my site by Jo Boaler, where she explains a study done on London taxi drivers. They have to learn a huge amount of information before they are allowed to drive a Black Cab: 320 routes that help them remember and learn the 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks and places of interest. They have to take a test called "The Knowledge." It takes between two and four years to pass it.

A study done on their brains found that the area in their brain called hippocampus had grown substantially bigger than in normal people. And, when they stopped working, the hippocampus shrunk.

EVERYONE can learn math

Yet, ironically, people often think that some of our children and students cannot grow a few new synapses to learn math. This is a completely FALSE concept! It is simply NOT true that some children have a "math brain", and some do not. Practically ALL of our children have the capabilities of learning ALL of K-12 math if they have a normal human brain (and do not suffer from severe learning disabilities).

Instead, the problem is the kinds of experiences these children have had in the past. It has to do with HOW they have been taught to do math, the kind of PRAISE they have been given, and the resulting mindset they have developed:

A fixed mindset is a mindset that believes intelligence (the brain) is fixed and not changing. But, it is a mindset that HINDERS brain growth AND the growth of one's intelligence. A person with a fixed mindset avoids challenges.

A person with growth mindset, on the other hand, sees difficult tasks as OPPORTUNITIES for growth. They believe that with effort, they can LEARN. And, they struggle to learn and grasp the problem, their brain ACTUALLY grows -- it grows new neurons and new connections between them (synapses).

Continue reading

Teacher4U On-line, self-paced, multimedia math lessons. Our lessons are now at no cost.Pre-algebra, Algebra, and Geometry lessons that
include instruction, "Try These" problems to check understanding , and worksheets with step-by-step answer keys. Go to to visit our website, see what we are about, and check out our lessons

3. Free addition/subtraction lessons

I have been working a lot on my site. It has needed updating for a while.

You know, websites are like most anything else you own - you have to take care of them. They CAN go on their own (like autopilot) for a while, but if you never update them, they will eventually go downhill.

So, I have been working in the section that has free math lessons. I still have lots of work to do... but here are some updated addition & subtraction lessons. They are essentially sample lessons from my books. Enjoy!

Add & Subtract Lessons

4. Free multiplication and division lessons & worksheets

More updates... I added two new pages, concentrating on both for grades 3-5.

Then I also updated MANY multiplication and division lessons, listed below. They are like sample lessons from my books.

Multiplication Lessons

Division Lessons

5. Games for GCF and LCM

Another thing I added to my site lately was online games and quizzes for greatest common factor and least common multiple.

These are typical topics for sixth grade, and if your students/children happen to need practice for them, try out the games!

6. Survey & your chance for a freebie (MIRL Arithmetic I and Fractions, Percents, & Decimals I)

My colleague Frank Wilson is asking for your help (participating in a survey):
A research study is being conducted by doctoral student Frank Wilson related to the effectiveness of educational products e-commerce websites. Feedback provided by participating consumers will be used to create an e-commerce website performance model that may be used by companies to measure how effective their websites are at meeting consumer needs.

Individuals who choose to participate in the study will receive a complimentary copy of two mathematics workbooks from Make It Real Learning Company: Arithmetic I and Fractions, Percents, & Decimals I. To learn more and to sign up to participate in the study, please visit

Note: This study is only for US participants.

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Till next time,
Maria Miller
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