Episode 219: How to Strengthen the Home-School Math Relationship – A Math Mentoring Moment
We speak with Lenny VerMaas from Lincoln Nebraska. Lenny joined us on episode 159 to chat all about not ditching your lesson model; reverse it.
Lenny has spent 28 years as a middle and high school classroom teacher followed by an additional 16 years working to support math teachers and he’s here to work out some pebbles in his shoe around helping parents get on board with making math moments in our classrooms.
This is another Math Mentoring Moment episode where we chat with a teacher like you who is working through some problems of practice and together we brainstorm ways to overcome them.
- How we can help parents understand how teachers are helping students to understand math, rather than teaching students to mimic procedures;
- How can we help parents experience joy, wonder, and beauty of math;
- Ways you can help parents help their children with math;
- The importance of allowing students “productive struggle” instead of jumping in and providing a solution;
- Why the “hand trick with multiplying by 9” works; and,
- Why having students share their successes with their parents will strengthen parent-math relationships.
Find Lenny on Twitter: @lennyvermaas
District Math Leaders:
How are you ensuring that you support those educators who need a nudge to spark a focus on growing their pedagogical-content knowledge?
What about opportunities for those who are eager and willing to elevate their practice, but do not have the support?
Book a call with our District Improvement Program Team to learn how we can not only help you craft, refine and implement your district math learning goals, but also provide all of the professional learning supports your educators need to grow at the speed of their learning.
Lenny VerMaas: Well my pebble is, I just feel that a lot of times we work with students and we've done some work with teachers, but we kind of forget about the parents being there and if the parents aren't a part of that, I just think we need to work and help them to understand how we're teaching math because we get all the questions about we're not doing the math that I did and it's different and it's more about understanding and helping the students do that rather than memorizing and mimicking. It really a lot kind of is a similar to the I do, we do, you do and switching that around.
Jon Orr: In this episode we speak with Lenny VerMaas from Lincoln, Nebraska. Now Lenny joined us back on episode 159. We chatted all about not ditching your lessons and reversing the lesson model and Lenny is back.
Kyle Pearce: Yes. Lenny, as you may recall, spent 28 years as a middle and high school classroom teacher, followed by an additional 16 years working to support math teachers. Is it now 17 years? Because I think that was the last time we spoke with him to support those math teachers and he's here to work out some pebbles in his shoe around helping parents this time get on board with making math moments in our classrooms.
Jon Orr: This is another math mentoring moment episode where we chat with a teacher or an educator just like you, who is working through some problems of practice and together we brainstorm possible ways to overcome them.
Kyle Pearce: All right, math moment makers let's do it. Welcome to the Making Math Moments that Matter Podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm John Orr. We are from makingmathmoments.com and together-
Kyle Pearce: With you, the community of Math Moment Makers worldwide who want to build and deliver problem-based math lessons that spark curiosity-
Jon Orr: Fuel sense making-
Kyle Pearce: And ignite your teacher moves. My friends, we are so excited to bring Lenny VerMaas back onto the show. I don't know if you remember back in 159, if you don't, you should probably head on back there. But Lenny has a passion for educating and working with students, working with teachers, and this time he's back to chat about how he intends to try to bring parents to the math conversation.
Jon Orr: And what is amazing about Lenny is the dedication he shows to education because at 70 years old, he's still volunteering his time in his grade three classroom, helping teachers in that school strengthen their relationship with mathematics, helping parents strengthen their relationship with mathematics. So stick around and you're going to hear thoughts from us, thoughts from Lenny on how to help parents strengthen that relationship with mathematics and their own children.
Kyle Pearce: All right, my friends, here we go with Lenny. Hey there Lenny, thanks for joining us again here on the Making Math Moments at Matter Podcast. How are things going with you down in Nebraska?
Lenny VerMaas: Well, they're going real well. We're moving right along. It's hard to believe we're in 2023 already and looking back at the last couple years have been a lot of changes, but everything is moving forward very well and a couple changes on my part.
Jon Orr: Yeah. Awesome. We'll get into that for sure. This is your second time on the podcast. We had you way back on I think episode 159, which is about a year ago when we talked all about, not ditching your lesson, but changing the order of the way we presented and talked about productive struggle and the I do, we do, you do model. I know that we chatted a lot about that and you had a lot of actually great insights to share with the Making Math Moments community. So Lenny, I also understand that we don't usually do this when we have our guests back on when we talk about the first episode, you shared a math moment. We have everybody share a math moment, but I think you want to share another math moment. Let's do it. What's the other math moment you remember when we say math class?
Lenny VerMaas: Okay, well this math moment is a current one. I would tell you that COVID was really hard on educators all over and when it did in 2020, there was just a lot of different things going on and going to the Zoom learning caused a lot of problems for teachers and students and as a result of that, that was the downside of it. The upside for me was that being retired and not teaching is that there was almost unlimited resources available online. So I got to pretty much, and I just vegged out and watched all kinds of Zoom meetings and the Math Moment community and did all those things so that was really nice. But my math moment actually comes because I had been working in schools and volunteering at elementary school where my grandkids went and when COVID hit that rest of that year was all online learning.
And then fortunately for Nebraska, most Nebraska schools started up in that fall, but with a lot of restrictions, they had that contact tracing, they weren't letting other people into school so basically I was not able to go to school to volunteer, do anything. But I visited with the principal to try to do something a little bit different and he said that I could come in and read in some classrooms. And my very first classroom I went in, and this was just a stroke of luck, was a third grade teacher that was in his second year of teaching, Simon Weedle. And he has two parents that were both teachers and was not like any other second year teacher I've ever seen. My wife kind of said, well, he just kind of adopted me. And so since that time I've been going in once or twice a week to help out in math class.
And my experience was middle school, high school, this is third grade and I had read the third graders before, but just the math part and what they're doing in math class has really opened my eyes to a lot of things and I still continue to read picture books and of course what they math lesson in them to the other student about once a month I'll go and just go into all the classrooms, but it is really just opened my eyes and Simon has just been so good and we've had so many good conversations in his classroom that it's really been beneficial for me. And as a result I've kind of switched my focus from working with teachers more to just being in the classroom with him. And then I want to look a little bit at how we can help parents understand what we're doing in our classroom.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. Well, I want to go all the way back to your point about gobbling up all that learning during COVID. And it's interesting because I remembered I was listening to a podcast, I wish I could remember which one, and they were just discussing about how during that pandemic there was sort of two ways you could treat it. You could treat it as an opportunity and look for those little tiny bright spots that are introduced to yourself and it sounds like you went about that in the right way. So you looked for those opportunities. I remember John and I also looked at those as opportunities. I thought about things like holy smokes, my 45 minute commute to work and 45 minutes home, that's time that I've now gained back, and how can I take that time and do something productive with it? So kudos to you for finding that bright spot.
I know there were so many challenges. It's not to discount it or say it was worth it, but when you're given those lemons to make the lemonade out of them like you did, I think is really great. And it's awesome to hear that you're back into the classroom so the fact that now things are coming back to some sort of new normal and you're making it into the classrooms, and I really like how you're sort of shifting your focus away from just working with teachers because don't get me wrong, when you're in there with students and you're doing work with students, you are helping teachers too because you're modeling and you're setting great examples and they're watching your moves and things that probably are just feel natural to you are just from experience, the fact that you have all of those years, those decades of experience behind you.
So again, kudos to you for that. And I'm wondering why don't we dig right into it because you had mentioned this piece about parents and I have a funny feeling that your current pebble in your shoe has something to do with that new sort of focus or lens that you're entering into the math classroom now.
Lenny VerMaas: Yeah, well my pebble is that I just feel that a lot of times we work with students and done some work with teachers, but we kind of forget about the parents being there and if the parents aren't a part of that, I just think we need to work and help them to understand how we're teaching math because we get all the questions about we're not doing the math that I did, and it's different and it's more about understanding and helping the students do that rather than memorizing and mimicking it really a lot kind of is as similar to the I do, we do, you do and switching that around. So parents just don't understand that. And so I think we need to work with parents to make sure that we're bringing them along.
Jon Orr: For sure. For sure. Lenny, what would you say you've done so far, and what did you do when you were in the classroom? And maybe there's a difference, maybe there's something that when you were in the classroom, this is the way you helped parents understand what you were doing in the classroom and then now having work with teachers and being volunteering in classrooms and then what you're doing currently, maybe that does look different. I'm wondering if you can compare the two and give us a snapshot on what you used to do and what you do now just so that we can kind of dive into helping you along this pebble a little bit.
Lenny VerMaas: I would actually say, especially when I was teaching other than parent teacher conferences, I didn't do very much. And if you remember, I taught at a school where I graduated from and so I knew a lot of the parents and I would always remind them that, well, you need to keep doing this math as we're going along because at some point your kids are going to be asking you how to do that, so you need to keep learning how to do it. But I kept the parents informed what we're doing, but I don't remember they're being, and I don't want to say a conflict, but I think there's a lack of understanding on parents' part about what's happening in the classroom.
Jon Orr: You mean now versus then?
Lenny VerMaas: Yeah, especially with the switch. And again, I'm probably looking more at elementary, but parents want to do the memorizing of the number facts. And I would share, one thing that made me aware of this is I had a grandparent because of my age, and this also applies to grandparents, but her daughter was having trouble with math and she was an elementary teacher and they were doing it some other way and she just said, well, I just went in and showed her how to regroup and do it that way rather than the way they were doing it. And continually, as I'm with people trying to stress importance of understanding and rather than the mimicking and just doing without any understanding and that's one of the things I think we need to work with parents on.
Jon Orr: I agree. We've chatted a lot about that here on the podcast as well. And when you shared that story, I think this is a common story for anyone who's listening to the podcast, they're math moment makers who are trying different things in the classroom and getting that kind of questions from parents or experiencing that disconnect like you called it. But it just brought me to a story actually last night from my host. I was telling Kyle this last night, I was frustrated myself because it was actually a reverse story than what you're describing Lenny. Like you're saying parents want this memorization, teachers are trying to teach things a little differently, we want more fluency, we want strategies on the focus and productive struggle, we want kids to think first instead of just teaching them memorization techniques or tricks to memorize or procedures. And being a teacher of my own kids who come home from their classroom and they were studying for an algebra test last night, they're in the seventh grade and they started to ask me, they wanted me to make them a worksheet, they wanted me to make them a practice test.
And I said, oh, well we can do that. And then they had made their own, which was great. So they were showing me a solution and it was solving an equation. It was like a two-step equation. And they had been take the number, flip it to the other side, change the sign because I said, well, how did you do this? And they said that. They said, oh, you're just supposed to change the sign. I said, okay, wait, let's back up a little bit here, lets kind of go over some of the strategies of why that works. Do you know why that works? No. She just said, that's the way you do it and that's got to be the best way. So it has to be the best way. So I'm going to pause the story there for just a moment and reflect back to what probably a lot of our teachers listening right now, their kids are going home, their parents are trying to teach them that strategy and there's conflict at home between the kid and the parent because it's not what's happening in the school.
And the kids probably telling the parent, but the teacher wants me to try it this way. And the parent's like, no, you just got to do it this way so there's tears. I'm sure there's tears at home. I'm sure there's yelling at home that happens. And so-
Kyle Pearce: John, are you saying that there was yelling last night?
Jon Orr: There was tears. There was tears last night. And it's the reverse because I'm trying to help them see the strategies of thinking, balance, opposite operations when solving two-step equations, we're trying to draw a picture here. They wanted nothing to do with that Lenny, nothing to do with trying to understand. They're like, just tell me if it's right, dad, come on, dad. And it was frustrating on my part because it was the night before the test and all they wanted to do was kind of cram and not relearn or not understand what was happening. So it was frustrating for me being, I wish we had started this a lot earlier because we could have built some skills and some understanding up here versus trying to put a pin in this so that they felt good to go home.
So they're saying that that's not the way my teacher is going to do it, which I was frustrated. But anyway, Lenny, back to your story here about what's happening in your classroom. So what would you say you're doing to alleviate some of that disconnect that's currently happening? I know that we talked about you doing this probably the way we did it for a long time too, not really connecting with parents to show them, what are you doing currently when you're going into these classrooms to kind of alleviate that disconnect?
Lenny VerMaas: Yeah. Well I do want to go back because I actually had something similar to that. I'm helping a ninth grade student and they were doing exponents and she's doing algebra in eighth grade, so has good math background, but the first time we met that's what she was working on. And so she knew the rules, we add those together, if you're multiplying and you add them together, I said, well, why is that? Because that's what the teacher said to do. So I think there's a lot of places where teachers need to help with that understanding. I think that a lot of times they give the rules as well and say, well, A to the fifth times A to the third is five As and three As, so you end up with in lots of ways. But I would go back to one thing and I thought it was interesting this morning on Good Morning on America, which I don't know if you get that in Canada.
Jon Orr: We get that. Yeah.
Kyle Pearce: We're so close to the border, yeah.
Jon Orr: We get American TV.
Lenny VerMaas: Tom Brady was on and they had a segment on-
Jon Orr: Wait, who's that?
Lenny VerMaas: Why I want my kids to fail and it was all the things you learned from failing. Michelle Obama had kind of a neat one and I did pull it out. So it's in her book, the Light We Carry, and she said, it's frightening to watch your child walk into a brick wall, but that is what growth is, too many parents try to stop that process. So I think parents, teachers and grandparents need to understand that time needs to be expanded and kids learn from their mistakes and we're way too quick to jump in. And what happens then is that they, you show them a trick and then the kids, the next time they say, well, what's the trick for this one? And so they're always looking for that trick rather than understanding. And I think that's something that's very important that we need to help parents and teachers and kids understand it because like you said, the better kids are the worst at that. Tell me how to do it and be done.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, I love it. I love it. And it's interesting because I was just having a similar conversation, not necessarily about parents in particular, but just working with educators. But I think the same is true because John, you've experienced the opposite. It's like reversal land where you are trying to get your children to see math as something more than just steps and procedures and at least your children's interpretation. It doesn't even mean that the teacher explicitly wanted them to just know one step or one way, but that's how the kids interpreted it. And in reality, it's almost like really trying to get a sense. And John and I have talked about wishlists before with teachers when districts for example, where we go through this wishlist of what do you want for students? And very rarely do you hear teachers articulate, and I would argue parents are the same, that they just want kids to just have a bunch of stuff memorized.
No one ever comes out and says that, they want them to be fluent, they want them to understand, but oftentimes I think we aren't quite sure what that really means, what that looks like, and a word that I've been trying to use more often, and this is a Cathy Fosnot inspired word, is this idea of behaviors. We talk about patterns in math, when we do certain things in math, there are behaviors that emerge. So for example, today I was working with a group of educators and we are working on doing some purposeful math talk, so using a specific strategy and a specific model for eliciting a new idea. And this was about coral counting and we started with this idea of adding 10, pick a number and then going around the room and letting kids add 10. And you take your time, you write it down, you make sure it's not a race and it's not a competition inaudible. You just want to give students this comfort in getting fluent with this idea.
Okay, great. And you're writing down these numbers. If you started at 8, now you have 18 written down, 28, 38. Okay, great. Next day or when you feel they're ready, you might do something like, okay, pick a number. Let's say we picked 8 again. All right, I write down 8. This time I don't want you to add 10, I want you to add 9. And it's almost natural where students would go, okay, well it's like the same as adding 10 and taking one away. And when you write it down and you see 8 and then you see 17, and then you see 26 and then you see 35 and you ask students, what behavior of addition is taking place here when you add 9? And what students will see is they're like, well, the tens column is going up by one, which is essentially adding 10 and the ones column is going down by one, which we would then help them to articulate as taking one away.
So it's like, wow, look at the strategy that we've just come up with here to add 9 to any number. You don't have to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or adding on those 9 and you don't have to know what 9 plus any number is. You just have to know what any number plus 10 is and then go down by one. And that's a behavior then that's just one simple example of when you compare that with parents and you sort of said, would you rather your child be armed with this ability to reason through, to be able to leverage the behaviors of the mathematics or would you rather them just know a bunch of random facts that are all disjointed and kind of working independently. And what you tend to get, I've yet to have a parent sort of say, no, I don't want that. I think when they see that power, it's really hard for them to sort of say, that's not a great idea.
I think most people are going like, wow, look at what we got. We sort of got what I wanted in the first place, which is the end goal of students being fluent maybe with inaudible or addition, facts or whatever it might be, but you got there through a really conceptual and almost leveraging that adaptive reasoning and the strategic competence of mathematical proficiency that we want for all students. We want those things and we can build them together, we can build them and intertwine them as we go. And it sort of makes me wonder about some things that maybe you might think about in that school as maybe trying to maybe rally some teachers into maybe having a parent night and maybe you could help them with some of those activities. Maybe you are one of the special guest speakers that kind of engages parents in some of the routines that you are doing or that the teachers are doing in their classrooms so that parents are invited to that conversation and they can sort of start to see why teachers are asking students for strategies.
A lot of times people think they're like, this is just more confusing. And in reality it's like, well, it's only confusing if you don't have the full picture. But when you're invited to that conversation and you start to understand the actual full story, you start to see how it actually makes a whole lot of sense. So it makes me wonder and maybe we'll flip it back to you to get your thoughts on where your head is at with that, if there maybe there's some opportunities in some of that school day or that structure where there could be this maybe math conversation where parents are invited in and can be brought to the conversation and so they don't feel so in the dark about why teachers are doing new math when in reality we're trying to better understand that math.
Lenny VerMaas: Yeah. Yeah. Well I know in third grade that we're doing more multiplication so the one thing I always get is like 6 times 9, I don't even know how it works, but they put their fingers up and they do this one down and they do that trick. Yeah, I think parents for fluency expect this speed deal like when you say 6 times 9, you need to know that's 54, but the experts would say, well, you can do 6 times 10 is 60 and subtract 6, or you can do 6 times 3 is 27 and add two 27s. And I think I like what you said, those are the things I think we need to show parents to help them see that it's not about the speed of it. So I have some ones like, what if you had 999 plus 999? And I've envisioned this because I thought about doing some presentations for parents and parents getting out their paper and going 9, 9, 9 and then putting the eight down and regrouping and-
Kyle Pearce: Bringing a one, bringing a one, bring a one.
Lenny VerMaas: And so seeing that you can take one away and compensate or even the subtraction if you have 1,002 minus 998 doing all that regrouping that you look at the distance between those. And so I think there's some things to show parents why it's important. I know our parents didn't learn those strategies, but I think a lot of them, if you give them that, would do it that way.
Jon Orr: I think so too. I completely agree because I think we build up our own strategies when we don't have paper and pencil in front of us, when we're at our workplace, we're out and about and we have to do quick mental calculations, I think you start to develop certain strategies that tend to make sense to you and actually are translatable. And I think a lot of parents aren't understanding or seeing that that's exactly what we're trying to do with number set strategies in the classroom. And I think if we can bridge that gap, what Kyle has mentioned, what you've mentioned here, Lenny, by showing that we're really on your side here, we want these strategies. Would you rather have these mental strategies which you're using anyway in your life, but would we rather have those than say breaking out the pencil and paper and trying to do a stacked algorithm to solve this problem where you normally wouldn't?
So I think a lot of times if you present it the way you just said is if hey you do this and you're not doing a paper and pencil strategy, you've done something else, that's what we want to happen with our students. And I know that I think in my experience sometimes parents have that disconnect for what's happening in the classroom because they feel like, or the student feels like they are not learning the way they think they should or they're not getting the support the way they feel like they should be getting that support. So sometimes a student might come home, talk to mom and dad or whoever's at home about what's happening in the classroom. The student might feel as supportive in the classroom if they're not getting these strategies. They share that with parents at home. Parents go, well that's weird. And so all of a sudden this disconnect happens and parents start to question what's happening in the classroom because they're really just concerned about the growth of their own child and they're hearing that there is concern here from the child themselves and they're also experienced.
That's not exactly what I remember from math class. So I think coming from a place of love that parents want to help their kid as much as possible and so come to the school and go, hey, what's going on in math class? So I think as educators are coming at it also from a place of love and growth for the student in saying we're also looking for these strategy, as long as our students are feeling supported, I think we get a lot less disconnect with our parents because kids will then be going home feeling successful in math class, sharing that success with parents, and parents are like, amazing. I'm so glad you feel successful in math class because I never did. And I'm seeing that with the strategies you are doing. Wow, that is very insightful the way you just solved that problem. I think sometimes a lot of that disconnect can be solved with making sure everyone feels supported on where they are in their growth in math class.
Lenny VerMaas: And I think you just need to help the parents understand that. And that's our goal. We both have the same goal of what we want. And so I think it's helping the parents to see that. And I think a big part of what you said is I think students need to feel good about math. They need to experience that wonder, joy and beauty of math and you talked about crying and how many parents remember in third grade when they couldn't memorize their formulas. They had these bad memories, I think those are the things that we need to try to work with parents to help them develop that love of math that they maybe don't have.
Kyle Pearce: Absolutely. And you had mentioned something too, you talked about it with the exponents piece where you were saying students adding the exponents when multiplying powers with the same base. And I think that question where you said, but why does that work? I think if as long as we're constantly doing that, we will always get further than just saying a trick is bad because you know what I just realized in this episode? And friends, I was today years old when I figured this out, but I just told you the number talk we were discussing about adding nines and I finally sort of made the connection as to why the finger trick actually works. And Lenny, you sort of said you weren't even sure exactly how the finger trick works, but I'm going to attempt it and those who are on YouTube can see my hands here.
But if this is 10 and then we think about that math talk that I did and I was to go like this, all right, I put down one because 1 times 9 is 9 and then when I get to 2 times 9, look what happens. These represent the ones and this represents the tens. My ones went down by one, my tens went up by one, which we just discussed. And if you were writing this down on the board at the same time, you could actually kind of experience this together. So now I have three, my third finger in a row is down and I see that my tens have gone up. So now I have two tens and I now have seven ones and because my hands, I'm lucky enough to have 10 wonderful appendages here that I'm able to do this trick.
And you can see that what I just described to you through that mini lesson, that actual string of problems could be such a great way. Imagine a world where you were to show the students that trick, but after they experienced the actual counting and adding of nines and then sort of showing them and sort of making that connection so that if they ever saw that trick again, because I'm sure they would, I think everyone listening has either used the trick, maybe taught kids that trick even or they've heard of it and they just weren't exactly sure how it worked and they just never bothered because they knew their times tables, but what you now have is this sort of like a segue. So I'm even imagining too, if you were able to get parents to come in and you were to find some of those tricks, and if you look on YouTube and you look at Japanese multiplication, you'll see I have a video on that and I use quotation marks because some people call it that.
Some people call it stick multiplication, some people call it all these things. There's a reason why that quote unquote trick actually works and it all has to do with place value and the base 10 blocks. And so my wonder is if maybe that's an entrance for you to have that conversation is maybe by having some parents share some of the tricks that they've learned along the way. And of course you're going to have to have in your back pocket sort of like how are you going to help one of those tricks be brought to life, but the finger trick may be one of those where you actually get them to do the math and just think of how much more they'll take from that when they go holy smokes, there's a reason that works. And if I ever forget, I can just go back and make the connection, which is why we want kids to have that conceptual understanding.
So I want to thank you my friend for coming on and helping me to land on something that I didn't really know why it worked, I just knew it worked. So thank you for that. And I wonder if we flip the mic back to you, what's a big takeaway here from this conversation that might help you as you head back into the schools and try to help get or reach your goal of having more parents sort of come to this conversation?
Lenny VerMaas: Well one thing you said there that I think is important, and I don't know if you realize it, you said you would show them this trick after they had done that activity. And I think a lot of times when students have been shown an algorithm for doing something, it spoils all the informal alternate ways of learning they have. And I think that once you've seen that you can't undo it. So I think that that's something, but I've actually started a little bit with of doing a couple ideas. One is to write an article, actually have a local paper here I talked about riding an article maybe every other week about with some of these topics, I think you need to start positive. And so I like bedtime math or math before bed as a way because a lot of times parents know they need to read to their kids and they know math is important but they don't know how to do it.
So I think that's a good place to start and some of those things and then maybe some things like a growth mindset to give them some ways or I always say that as mathematicians, we see math everywhere. So you're going down the road and you're doing all this math and helping parents to see that they need to continually be bringing up those things that how many times have you been asked do they teach county giving back change in school anymore? And I say, well a lot of it is kids don't have change anymore. But then I would also say, how many times have you practiced that with your child as a way of doing this. And then getting into some more of those tougher ones as well.
Simon had an idea, the third grade teacher I work with of maybe having kids make little Flipgrid videos or something on something they're learning to show their parents. I know some books actually have that as well too. I think some textbooks where you can click on it kind of shows what they're trying to do but I kind of looked at maybe doing something like that.
Kyle Pearce: Think about this too. And this is a conversation, you just jogged my memory. There was a school we were working at and this was a couple years back and they were talking about this and they were sort of saying, how can they help the students share with their parents? And we were saying imagine once students are really fluent using a strategy flexibly and sort of challenging the students as sort of their homework or whatever you want to call it, their take home activity that they're going to do is teaching their parents the strategy. But first getting the students to almost show off a little bit on how efficient they've become using the strategy, that I think is really helpful.
And I think one of the pieces too that we often forget is usually kids come to the parent when they're struggling. So if they're struggling with this strategy that the parent doesn't know, the parent is automatically assuming, well the reason you're struggling is because you're using this crazy old, why are you doing all this stuff over here and with all these pictures you could just carry the number and everything's great. So I wonder too if we're more intentional about having students share what they're learning when they don't need the help because if it's only when they need help, then it's almost like every time a parent experiences math, it's almost like in the negative, right?
Lenny VerMaas: It's in a crisis situation.
Kyle Pearce: If this was a great idea then you would get it. If it was such a great strategy, how come you don't understand it? So I wonder too if there was almost like something intentional there where once students get a little bit of a grasp or maybe you refrain from letting students bring home material that they don't already have a good grasp on that's a great concept. It's like you could do a lagged homework sort of thing where it's like two weeks ago we were looking at this thing, now that you're comfortable with it, bring it home to do some purposeful practice and then there's kind of two wins there. The student gets more practice with it, but then also the parents get to see holy smokes, you're becoming pretty efficient with that strategy that I never knew when I was a kid.
Lenny VerMaas: Yeah, I like that idea. And I think I would say with the homework, I know at least in elementary, they don't do a lot of homework just because homes are different for all kids and a lot of times with everything going on, they don't have time. But I like that idea of having students say, and I think if you prepare them, say we want you to go home and show this to your parents tonight and make sure that they kind of have a good understanding of it, but then being able to show their parents what they're doing as a way, because it reinforces what they've done, it creates a little bit of a bond between the parent and the child and the school so I do like that idea.
Jon Orr: I'd like it as well. And it goes back to that success and feeling, that success so that everybody's on the same page that hey, these things are working. We do have some success here. Let's celebrate those. Lenny, we want to thank you so much for joining us here for a second time. There's not too many people that are up here on the second time, so we want to probably make this a third time. We're going to be looking to invite you back probably on the same time period. We all like to see where everybody goes, have them back, we have another, where are they now kind of moment and we chat about what their pebbles are currently. So we are so glad that you shared your pebble with us and we can chat about that here. What do you say? Can we bring you back on next year?
Lenny VerMaas: I would love to do that. I'm sadly I'm no longer getting paid for what I'm doing, but I enjoy it so I'm going to continue. So yeah, I would love to do that and kind of see what I'm able to put together.
Jon Orr: Amazing.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. I love it. Lenny, it has been an honor as John has just mentioned, we would love to hear that voice on the podcast again sometime soon. You're doing great work. It's amazing that obviously you had a calling to be working with students and teachers and you have this love for mathematics, know that you are having a much greater impact and influence on the math community than you will ever realize. So keep up the great work my friend, and we can't wait to hear from you again soon.
Lenny VerMaas: Well thank you very much, and thanks for all that you do with your ever all of your trainings and your podcast and everything you're doing. So I think there's a lot of teachers and kids and parents that still have room to grow so you're providing that.
Jon Orr: You're very welcome there. That's one of our main goals here at Make Math Moments. So thanks again Lenny and we'll talk soon.
Lenny VerMaas: Okay, thank you very much.
Kyle Pearce: Chat soon my friend. As always, Both John and I learned so much from these conversations and in particular today I learned, or the idea emerged as that's true to how that nine times table finger trick works and oh my gosh, it's not really a trick.
Jon Orr: No. Total sense.
Kyle Pearce: It actually makes sense just like all mathematics. So my friends, how are you going to ensure that you hang on to your new learning so it doesn't wash away like footprints in the sand? I don't know about you, but I like to reflect by either re-listening to these episodes, that's what I do to reflect, other people like to write them down. Maybe some of you want to have a conversation with a colleague, a partner, maybe even some of the students that you're working with. Whatever you choose, make sure that you do something to ensure the learning sticks. And what better way than to take a moment right now and head over to do a rating and a quick little review. Maybe it's the quick takeaway that you want to share in that review box. You don't know how awesome it feels when we get to read those reviews each and every week. And not only that, it helps more math educators just like you get access to this particular show.
Jon Orr: And if you aren't sure, we are on all social media platforms, so you could reach out to us over there. We are always looking to engage in more conversation on the topics from our episodes, so you can reach us @makingmathmoments on all social media platforms. So to ensure you don't miss out on the new episodes as they come out each week, be sure to hit that subscribe button and like Kyle said, leave us a review.
Kyle Pearce: Hey friends, show notes, links to resources, and complete transcripts are available on our website over at makemathmoments.com/episode219, that is makemathmoments.com/episode219. Well Math Moment Makers, you know what time it is. I'm Kyle Pierce.
Jon Orr: And I'm John Orr.
Kyle Pearce: High fives for us.
Jon Orr: And-
Kyle Pearce: High five for you.
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