Episode #257: Uplifting Students by Uplifting Mathematics: A Conversation with Sunil Singh

Oct 30, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

On today’s show, we’re bringing on Sunil Singh, a colleague, friend, and fellow Ontarian from the math education world for a second time. 

Sunil, the author of three books (Life of Pi, Math Recess, and Chasing Rabbits) with his fourth on the way (Sonic Seducer), joins us to share his unique insights into effective teaching and learning of mathematics. 

In this episode, Sunil highlights the significance of rich, narrative-driven mathematical content in facilitating engaging teaching experiences. He unveils the two essential pillars for becoming an effective math teacher, while also unraveling why the number 70 is weird and its potential to captivate students’ attention. 

Sunil guides us through the strategic elements that school districts should prioritize when shaping professional development plans for math educators. He introduces the concept of developing a K-Lifetime mathematics program, emphasizing the importance of cultivating lifelong mathematical curiosity. 


What You’ll Learn:

  • Why finding good, rich content that tells the story of mathematics is important for effective teaching and learning of mathematics;
  • The two things you need to strengthen to be an effective math teacher;
  • Why 70 is a weird number and how you can use that fact to uplift your students; 
  • What school districts should focus on when developing their professional development plan; 
  • How to develop a K-Lifetime mathematics program; 
  • Why helping your students to trust mathematics is one of the most important outcomes you can have as an educator.

Attention 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. Book a short conversation with our team now.  

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00:00:00:04 – 00:00:21:23
Sunil Kumar Singh
Pedagogy isn’t student facing, it’s completely teacher facing. It’s a trickle down economics. Well, hopefully if my pedagogy is really sound that kids are going to learn the mathematics. They might, but they’re discovering that. But there’s no way in the world they’re going to be more curious to, let’s say, become a mathematician. They might be curious to become a math teacher.

00:00:22:00 – 00:00:22:20
Sunil Kumar Singh
But the actual math.

00:00:23:01 – 00:00:50:05
Jon Orr
On today’s show we are bringing back said you’ll see a colleague, friend and fellow Ontario in from the math education world for a second time. Sunil joined us and he’s one of our very first guests and he’s back to chat with us. All things mathematics. And if you don’t know, Sunil is the author of three current books, Life of Pi, Math, Recess and Chasing Rabbits, and his fourth book is On the Way, which is called Sonic Seducer.

00:00:50:05 – 00:01:01:15
Jon Orr
And actually, maybe by the time this episode airs, it might be available for you to grab it. Sunil joins us today to share his unique insights into effective teaching and learning mathematics.

00:01:01:17 – 00:01:30:18
Kyle Pearce
In this episode, Sunil highlights the significance of rich, narrative driven mathematical content in facilitating, engaging teaching experiences. He unveils the two essential pillars for becoming an effective math teacher while also unraveling why the number seven is a weird number and its potential to captivate students attention. Yeah, that’s right. I know you’re like, what? The number seven. It doesn’t seem weird to me.

00:01:30:23 – 00:01:51:15
Kyle Pearce
Guess what? You’re going to find out why it is and we’re going to engage in it. Much like students were engaged in it in class, which is great. Sunil guides us through the strategic elements that school districts should prioritize when shaping professional development plans for math educators. He introduces the concept of developing a K through lifetime math program.

00:01:51:15 – 00:02:17:08
Kyle Pearce
How awesome is that? Emphasizing the importance of cultivating lifelong mathematical curiosity. Let’s hit it. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:02:17:08 – 00:02:19:18
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr. we are from makemathmoments.com.

00:02:19:23 – 00:02:28:15
Kyle Pearce
This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your math program, whether at the classroom level or at the district level.

00:02:28:20 – 00:02:34:20
Jon Orr
And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree.

00:02:34:23 – 00:02:44:02
Kyle Pearce
If you master the six parts of an effective math program, the impact of your program will grow and reach far and wide.

00:02:44:04 – 00:02:54:24
Jon Orr
Each week, you’ll get the insight you need to start feeling overwhelmed, came back your confidence and get back to enjoying the planning facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or educators you serve.

00:02:54:24 – 00:03:15:19
Kyle Pearce
All right, friends, let’s not waste any time. Back to our good friend Sunil. Hey. Hey there, Sunil. Thanks for joining us here again on the making mouth moments that matter. In a while, we hopped on almost 30 minutes ago with you, and that’s one thing I know about you. We are pretty close like that. And we go down the rabbit hole.

00:03:15:19 – 00:03:32:11
Kyle Pearce
I sort of regret not hitting the record button right when we got on, but we are so excited to bring all the math moment makers up to speed. Sunil, tell them, remind them Where are you from? Give us just a snapshot of your world and what you’re up to in math education.

00:03:32:13 – 00:03:35:14
Sunil Kumar Singh
Absolutely. First of all, I heard John sort of chime in. It’s been a while.

00:03:35:19 – 00:03:47:04
Jon Orr
Yeah. We had you on episode 14. So that was when we were babies, when we were first starting the podcast. And now this is episode 250 something.

00:03:47:04 – 00:03:49:18
Kyle Pearce
So my hair was so black then.

00:03:49:18 – 00:03:54:14
Jon Orr
Yeah, we’ve had a number of years since we last officially chatted here on the podcast.

00:03:54:16 – 00:04:30:03
Sunil Kumar Singh
Well, yeah, I mean, I think it was around my first book, Pie of Life. I’m now finishing my fourth book. It’s a music one we can talk about that later. But yeah, I’m in Pickering, Ontario, just outside of Toronto, still doing things very similar to the first time we chatted in episode 14. In terms of talking about the world of mathematics through the lens of narrative and storytelling, math, history, which as we talked about in that first half hour, which we would have hopefully wanted to press, the record is really about content.

00:04:30:05 – 00:04:53:00
Sunil Kumar Singh
That’s the essence of it, is where do you find good content for me? And not always the game, not for a good chunk of my teaching career. I wasn’t doing that. It’s only after I left teaching in definitely more now than ever is that stories of mathematics which attract me because it humanizes it. But I also find rich amazing content almost every day.

00:04:53:02 – 00:05:13:20
Jon Orr
Totally. And I think when we talk content, I think math teachers, I would say missing on most people who are listening to this are math teachers who are in the coordinator level or math teachers who are already kind of changing some of their math instruction from that. Okay. I taught for a number of years, which I would probably say I focused only on content.

00:05:13:22 – 00:05:36:06
Jon Orr
It was like, I’m going to deliver the content every day. It’s like I’m just giving out the math procedures, the math instructions, and I think our listeners are kind of moving towards, Hey, can we do that better? And that’s why we’re listening to the podcast. But I think there’s still like that. What is math content? Is the math content me being able to be good at math, being able to be like, Hey, here’s a math problem.

00:05:36:06 – 00:06:01:03
Jon Orr
Can I solve it in that traditional way or a particular way? And I only can solve it that one way. That was me for a long time. And I think right now in the math space, there’s this play on like, should we be helping our teachers with pedagogy? Should we be helping teachers with content? And then I think a lot of folks right now are saying, well, not content, because everybody if I’m teaching math, I probably know the content which we’re learning isn’t necessarily the case here.

00:06:01:05 – 00:06:28:12
Sunil Kumar Singh
Yeah, and as we talked before, what’s more problematic is the curiosity for content. There seems to be this really big appetite for pedagogy, and pedagogy isn’t student facing, it’s completely teacher facing. It’s like trickle down economics. Well, hopefully if my pedagogy is really sound that kids are going to learn the mathematics, they might I might say discovering that, but there’s no way in the world they’re going to be more curious to, let’s say, become a mathematician.

00:06:28:15 – 00:06:48:18
Sunil Kumar Singh
They might be curious to become a math teacher, but the actual mathematics they’re doing has to be interesting. And the analogy I just came up with just this week is metaphors. As a writer, I just love, especially in the space. It’s like if you had an amazing stereo system, high fidelity, everything but the music you’re playing, it could tell greatest hits.

00:06:48:24 – 00:07:11:19
Sunil Kumar Singh
Or if you have a cupboard that’s full of cookbooks, but you have an empty fridge. If you have a full fridge and you got no cookbooks, I bet you everyone can eventually make something tasty. And that’s why when teachers think they’ve got content knowledge, okay, you might have that, but is it the content that is student facing in 2023?

00:07:11:19 – 00:07:33:19
Sunil Kumar Singh
And then sometimes we’re reaching for applications. Well, shouldn’t you even find out more about your students first? And that’s what teaching for me has always come down to two things great content and great relationships in front of students. I remember I don’t think I showed this in the first podcast, but the first day of teaching almost was my first maybe second year.

00:07:33:21 – 00:07:55:03
Sunil Kumar Singh
While most teachers in the photocopying room getting all their lesson plans, all that I would spend the first night before the start of full day classes memorizing all my students first thing, that’s all I did was memorize their names to build, engender the trust. These kids have experience. Okay, kids, my teacher doesn’t get my name till two weeks later.

00:07:55:06 – 00:08:16:19
Sunil Kumar Singh
I got their names first. Developer Kinship Develop trust because what I’m going to put in front of you is going to demand a lot of trust from you. For me, because sometimes some of the problems might be challenging in that. But just trust me on the journey that we’re going to attend. So yeah, I mean, the content, the C word is going to come up probably a hundred times.

00:08:16:20 – 00:08:34:00
Kyle Pearce
I love it. And I’m seeing this theme. I always say this on the show as we’re talking, and I love the fact that John and I are co-hosts because it gives us opportunities to actually sit and listen more attentively, right. And reflect instead of always be thinking about the next thing. And you know what? I had a vision.

00:08:34:00 – 00:08:51:18
Kyle Pearce
You’re painting me a picture in my mind of this surface and depth. It’s like a lot of surface level, first day of school stuff like syllabus and introducing the rules, and here’s how it’s going to work. And some teachers are even so plan. And they’re doing this because they think it’s the right thing to do, right? They’re planning.

00:08:51:18 – 00:09:11:22
Kyle Pearce
They have a long range plan. They might be like on day 14, we’re going to be on this page. And these are the homework questions some people are that planned out and organized. But again, that’s like very surface level. And you’re talking about this getting to know students and building relational trust. I know all about relational trust from Jim Strack and who was on an earlier episode.

00:09:11:22 – 00:09:34:09
Kyle Pearce
We’ll put that in the show notes and building that trust is so necessary and it requires that depth. You’re going deeper right away with those students to build that relationship. And what I heard you say, maybe not in this this same sort of way or in these words was because you’re going to go deeper with the content. And in order to go deeper with the content, you need to go deeper with the students.

00:09:34:09 – 00:09:56:10
Kyle Pearce
If I’m just up here saying syllabus is this, and on day 14, it’s that and here’s the content, here’s the steps and the procedures, then you’re just floating up here and you’re not really getting too far, but you’re saying it’s like, we need this depth with our students, our deep relationship in order to actually go deep with what matters in the math, which is the actual content.

00:09:56:10 – 00:10:23:02
Kyle Pearce
And maybe, dare I say it, less important is the actual pedagogy, right? You can dress up good pedagogy and make it look good, but maybe not necessarily get any deeper with the mathematics. Whereas if you go deep with the mathematics, your pedagogy, maybe might not be as dressed up, but you might still get further ahead and you might actually still have a more successful, a more effective math class.

00:10:23:04 – 00:10:42:19
Sunil Kumar Singh
As you’re saying it. I never put the two together and I was doing the depth, the relationships, because that’s by going to teaching in terms of that. And I love mathematics. The way you put those two together, I just realize how in-sync they are. One is related to the other. I was subconsciously doing that up until you just mentioning it.

00:10:42:22 – 00:11:08:10
Sunil Kumar Singh
It didn’t really occur to me that’s what I was doing, that if I was going to forge a deep content dive, I can’t do it with a superficial and I wasn’t articulate like that to myself. I was just doing okay. You know what? I definitely want to get to know my students. And I did say, okay, engendering trust to that, but not to the point where I was going, Wow, If you don’t do that, I’m not sure you can get to the superficial.

00:11:08:12 – 00:11:09:02
Kyle Pearce

00:11:09:02 – 00:11:29:12
Jon Orr
I don’t think you can. You need all of those things. So I think for people listening to right now and they’re thinking content, I think some ideas like they get an image of what that means to them in their minds. When we talk about what it means to focus on content, what would you say? Paint them a picture of what it means to focus on content for you.

00:11:29:14 – 00:11:51:02
Sunil Kumar Singh
Okay, so I’m glad you asked that question because I was actually going to throw in an actual math question, and this is the perfect opportunity. First of all, I think it’s important to understand that content’s been around for thousands and thousands of years. Pedagogy In terms of formal education, I don’t know, maybe 100 good pedagogy, only about 20 that P word wasn’t around when I started teaching.

00:11:51:04 – 00:12:14:02
Sunil Kumar Singh
It was all just basically okay, have good relationship with students, give them good math questions, get out of the way. We’ve cluttered it up. So pedagogy has been around for a while now in terms of content. This is the other thing too for education. Dive in my question. Every single topic that students come across in mathematics, every single one, even the basic idea of addition or racial proportion.

00:12:14:07 – 00:12:30:01
Sunil Kumar Singh
At some point in the timeline of history, we didn’t know how to do that. Every day kids are somewhere in the math history timeline of a collective group of people somewhere along this continent who couldn’t figure that out.

00:12:30:03 – 00:12:47:22
Jon Orr
Right. And we as teachers always just it’s almost like imagine the little person on this timeline and you were like this giant and you could come in. And what we do is we grab this person. It’s almost like you’re reaching in your grabbing them by their arms and you’re picking them up and then you’re shuffling them all the way down this timeline and dropping them here.

00:12:48:03 – 00:13:02:07
Jon Orr
We’re like, Hey, we’re going to skip all of this stuff because we have already developed the fastest way for you to solve this. And we will plop down. And then kids are like, Well, why do I need to solve it that way? Why does this matter? And why is this important to me? I mean.

00:13:02:07 – 00:13:25:05
Sunil Kumar Singh
We said giant, I think of from this giant. That’s a good thing, right? But it is that picking up, dropping, picking up, dropping. And one of the things we’re all guilty of because just the time we spend together in terms of workshops and presentations and we go to conferences, everything is like within an hour. I mean, some of the most basic mathematic takes more than an hour to actually put together.

00:13:25:05 – 00:13:48:17
Sunil Kumar Singh
So let me give you the actual what I mean by math content. So the number 70. Okay. I don’t know how many times that number 70 has actually come up as a part of a math question. So what I would actually do is ask teachers without checking your phones or whatever, and I would almost do this as a group activity and see how long it would take, because this would show that the magic development, understanding mathematics.

00:13:48:19 – 00:14:03:18
Sunil Kumar Singh
So 70 is considered a weird number. Okay. The next weird number is 810. So if you posed that to do student facing, right. So kids are going to go, well, why is it weird to go? Well, I could tell you, but let’s see if we can figure it out. Why? It’s weird.

00:14:03:20 – 00:14:04:23
Kyle Pearce
I like.

00:14:05:00 – 00:14:05:10
Jon Orr

00:14:05:12 – 00:14:08:17
Kyle Pearce
Figured I could tell you, but then it would be like, then what would we do with the rest.

00:14:08:17 – 00:14:11:02
Jon Orr
Of our galaxy? Very curious. Yeah.

00:14:11:02 – 00:14:29:05
Sunil Kumar Singh
So let’s start. Just tell me anything you know about 70, right? A spitball brainstorm. I don’t care. I’ll just put stuff on the board. Or maybe the first thing kids will go maybe seven times ten. I’ll. Oh, good. Perfect. We’re heading in the right direction. So then maybe kids start to give all the multiplication factor. 70. Exactly the direction.

00:14:29:07 – 00:14:48:18
Sunil Kumar Singh
Why 70 is going to be weird. So we write them all down. So this creates a curiosity for the factual fluency that the back to basics always kick back to basics. But guess what? If you frame your question in a certain manner, you’re going to get the factual, procedural and conceptual fluency and a historical one as well, which is coming up.

00:14:48:20 – 00:15:28:13
Sunil Kumar Singh
So you list all the multiplication factor 70, including one times, 72 times 35, five times 14, seven times ten. I almost forgot five done 14 right. And so I go, guess what? This is going to help us to determine why it’s weird. So the kids will like stare for a while and now they’ve taken ownership in terms of, yeah, don’t give us the answer if this is the right path and then the suck them in and then maybe on the side do the same thing with, let’s say 24 or 18 or I’m by the way, specifically choosing those numbers anyways, What I would want them to do is, okay, so what are the numbers which

00:15:28:14 – 00:15:49:06
Sunil Kumar Singh
going to 70 then based on all these multiplication facts, we’ll start with one. So I start listing them one, two, five, seven, ten, 14 and 35. For this particular exercise, we don’t list the 70 everything which you just said is called proper divisors. So then, okay, the kids okay, Yeah. Those if you want to call them proper divisors, which they’re called.

00:15:49:08 – 00:16:09:17
Sunil Kumar Singh
Okay. Can you add them. Well I mean I wouldn’t say that I’d go okay, these are all the ones and these are all the ones for the numbers. So maybe now’s inclination to the table, just add them up. I don’t know what we’re going to get. If you add them up, it’s 74. So any time the sum of the proper divisors is bigger, the number itself is called an abundant number.

00:16:09:19 – 00:16:28:00
Sunil Kumar Singh
So 12 is abundant. There’s a whole bunch. But what makes 70 weird right now, we’re getting really, really close and no kid’s going to want they’re going to want to figure this out either individually or collectively. Okay, we’re closed and they’re going to stare at all the divisors. And 74 and I go, Everything’s on the board now. Everything’s on the board.

00:16:28:00 – 00:16:52:05
Sunil Kumar Singh
I can actually do 12 and other numbers do. And just for the sake of this podcast, I will explain the answer. The reason why 74 is weird because it’s an abundant number, but you cannot build 70 adding up any other subset of the numbers to get to 70. Whereas if 12 which is abundant one, two, three, four, six as a 15, you can get a subset of those numbers.

00:16:52:05 – 00:17:04:23
Sunil Kumar Singh
Six plus four plus two gives you 12. So 74 is a weird number because has abundance in terms of its divisors being more than. But you can’t piece together any of those numbers, any combination to give you something.

00:17:05:04 – 00:17:25:00
Kyle Pearce
So I want to just say what you just did was John and I, we always talk about the curiosity path and all of those things that we always articulate how there’s so many different ways to get there. But you did exactly that, right? You started with a curious question. A lot of kids probably at first be like, I don’t even know what’s happening right now and you check it on the list.

00:17:25:00 – 00:17:41:21
Kyle Pearce
It’s like, good. Some kids are not buying and yet they’re like, What are you talking about? But then you get a couple of kids who are. And then what you did when you asked and you said something along the lines of tell me what you know about seven of your tell me anything and everything you know, or tell me like you’re talking to somebody who’s never seen 70 before, however you want to put it.

00:17:41:23 – 00:18:02:16
Kyle Pearce
And it’s almost like, again, when we talk about that depth piece right, the surface versus depth, you started with something that felt like surface, but you knew that we were going to go way deeper and you helped them get to that depth without even doing heavy lifting. Now, I’d argue you’re questioning is heavy lifting. You have to think about those things ahead of time.

00:18:02:18 – 00:18:35:09
Kyle Pearce
But you did it in such a way that you created that path, you created that storyline for students to follow down. And I love to. You also articulated some people may not have picked up on it, but I certainly did that. We’re not just picking a random number here. This is very intentional. Speaking back to the content piece, and I almost want to come all the way full circle back and say, if I’m not comfortable, confident, excited about the content, real math content.

00:18:35:09 – 00:19:08:08
Kyle Pearce
And when I say real math content, there’s a conceptual, you know, ness to it, right? You think at John’s timeline, you’re not just dragging people down a timeline, you are allowing them to move along that timeline in almost like warp speed. But they’re actually meeting all those spots along the way. So you’re crafting this experience that allows them to do time travel and sort of experience this idea of abundant numbers when I’m sure it didn’t take a ten minute activity for those who were first exploring, you know, abundant numbers.

00:19:08:08 – 00:19:08:15
Kyle Pearce

00:19:08:16 – 00:19:37:15
Sunil Kumar Singh
That’s kind of is that given the time that we have in classrooms, which of course is not proportional to the time it took to fully appreciate even a small more so mathematical knowledge, they try to extract as much as possible in our podcast. But really, I mean this I get this from James Tanton to the way that he approach teaching as well, is that even though he knew exactly where the narrative was going, the way he taught was maybe just below the ability or interest the average kid.

00:19:37:16 – 00:19:44:18
Sunil Kumar Singh
Okay, I don’t know where we’re going. Okay. You almost take on the role that student going, What’s going on here? Yeah, that’s totally where.

00:19:44:20 – 00:19:59:07
Kyle Pearce
You certainly have to put yourself in those shoes, right. So that you can empathize with where are they? What are they feeling at this moment and how do I ensure that it’s just the right amount of confusion, dissonance, whatever? That is not going to cause frustration.

00:19:59:09 – 00:20:23:12
Jon Orr
Think about what’s happening if your next move is you’ve just uncovered this pathway and these are pedagogical moves that you’ve been making to kind of get kids to stay in this flow. And then you get to this point where you talked about why 70 is a weird number and then I can imagine your next move is you maybe uncovered Y12 as a weird number and like, okay, can you find three more weird numbers and think of what’s happening with the students at that point?

00:20:23:13 – 00:20:31:11
Jon Orr
Think of the math part, the math content that they’re grappling with, experimenting with, because sometimes teachers will say, Oh.

00:20:31:11 – 00:20:31:20
Kyle Pearce
I don’t have.

00:20:31:20 – 00:20:53:11
Jon Orr
Time to teach in this way, but imagine what’s happening. If you’re teaching about divisors and you’re teaching about maybe these common multiples and all these things, right? This is all in that land and you’re coming at it from this position and this strategy instead of let me just show you what to do. Think of the actual thinking that’s happening in this classroom versus I’m just going to teach you the content.

00:20:53:13 – 00:21:11:15
Sunil Kumar Singh
Well, you just gave me a great idea because this is what I love about teaching and just focus on content. Two is you can find a different approach to that content. It’s like if you’re given the food item, okay, let me cook it this way or all that. So maybe okay with the kids go, Wow, yes, 70 is weird.

00:21:11:17 – 00:21:31:07
Sunil Kumar Singh
And you tell them, okay, well, let’s see if we can find who can find none of the weird number. Now, will the kids have access to the phones? I don’t know. In this activity, like the next one is eight or ten, but they don’t know that they’re going to start testing all these chunky numbers, find out they’re abundant because that’s the first criteria has to be abundant.

00:21:31:12 – 00:21:53:13
Sunil Kumar Singh
So they’re going to go through 36, 18, all that, and they’re going to start playing around with all the subsets. So practice their addition as well. All these things are a baked in to the dragnet of the initial question, not the initial pedagogical move, but the actual question, which is going to create curiosity. Kids are going to go, Look, we got to find more weird numbers.

00:21:53:13 – 00:22:20:13
Sunil Kumar Singh
Isn’t that weird? I go, Yes, it is weird. That’s why it’s weird right now. You can laugh about. That’s weird, right? And so some kids are going to go. Is that the only weird number? No, it’s not. It’s 810 fact check. They’ll fact check. This is what you want them to do because you want them to maybe stumble down the rabbit hole of number theory and they’ll come across other kind of numbers to fish the perfect, sociable, friendly, amicable.

00:22:20:13 – 00:22:33:02
Sunil Kumar Singh
All these. That’s what you want to do with. And that’s why when content knowledge is some kid asks a question, I’m kind of hoping I don’t know the answer to because that’s a really good question. Guess what? They’re going to go find out.

00:22:33:04 – 00:22:56:02
Kyle Pearce
Truly, Totally. And you’re modeling as well that this is what mathematics truly is. The doing of mathematics. It shouldn’t be that Snell knows everything about it, right? You’re going to know probably significantly more than students do, but their questions right are often hard ones, right? It’s like we’re in the car. And my son asked me a question about something that I’m like, I actually have no idea how that works.

00:22:56:02 – 00:23:27:09
Kyle Pearce
And that’s okay, right? But it’s about promoting the thinking. It’s about promoting the discovery, dare I say the word discovery and math in the same conversation. Right? But it’s all about them being motivated and also guided. And I think that kind of sends me down a bit of a path here, because I think one of our biggest challenges when we had the whole inquiry, discovery movement in mathematics was that we focused and we hyper focused, as we’ve sort of articulated earlier, on the pedagogy.

00:23:27:11 – 00:23:49:21
Kyle Pearce
But if there’s no content at its core. So if we’re going down a path of discovery where we’re legit, just going to go and try to figure stuff out without having any sort of direction with any sort of we’ll call it that light out there, right? The lighthouse. The teacher has to be the lighthouse. They have to be the one like kind of guide the kids towards what it is that we’re trying to discover.

00:23:49:23 – 00:24:08:11
Kyle Pearce
And what John and I are seeing is quite a bit. We work a lot with districts now. We have our district partners. We get on a lot of calls with different district leaders who are looking for some next steps. And what we see is this massive hyper focus on pedagogy, which I’m going to argue we still have a long way to go in pedagogy.

00:24:08:11 – 00:24:31:05
Kyle Pearce
So it’s not that that’s not important at all, but we see such a lack of focus and potentially, I would say a lack of expertise to be able to lead the charge in the content knowledge where if you want teachers. So if I want my teachers to do what Sunil just did, there is a lot of work that has to be done.

00:24:31:05 – 00:24:54:19
Kyle Pearce
You can’t just go and buy a textbook that has what you just did in it, right? That just doesn’t exist. So I’m wondering if you’re a district leader listening and you’re going, Holy smokes, We just spent the past five, ten years focusing on trying to get teachers to pedagogically change in our classroom and we’re spinning our wheels. John and I have recognized that a lot of times.

00:24:54:19 – 00:25:15:20
Kyle Pearce
The reason we spin our wheels and pedagogy is because it doesn’t lead to anything better if there’s no content, if there’s no depth there. So in your mind, if you’re a district leader, where or what are you thinking about doing in order to try to maybe go deeper in that area, to actually have an actual impact on the mathematics that we’re teaching our students?

00:25:15:24 – 00:25:48:04
Sunil Kumar Singh
Well, I think the questions are so more important. They’ve always been important, but they’re really important today because we’re at a crossroads where we think that even the best pedagogy we have a long way to go is the panacea, is the cure all. It definitely feels like that, that as long as I got good pedagogy checkbox, I’m doing my job, everything is checkbox, maybe above you, but who’s not being included here are the actual students.

00:25:48:06 – 00:26:05:10
Sunil Kumar Singh
And we talked about curiosity and I remember George Carlson’s book Innovator’s Mindset said something like the only metric or exit ticket that really and I’m paraphrasing here, did you leave the math classroom more curious today, the day before, And not every day is going to be that.

00:26:05:10 – 00:26:06:24
Kyle Pearce
But that’s that can be a goal for sure.

00:26:07:02 – 00:26:29:23
Sunil Kumar Singh
Absolutely. If I didn’t measure anything and I let’s say I taught theoretically every student, every class from K to 12 and I was their teacher, or somehow through some time travel kind of stuff. And the only thing I checked every day was, okay, are you more curious? And I looked at all their exit tickets or their course at 12 years, and over 90% were yes, I tell you, they’ve learned a lot of mathematics.

00:26:29:23 – 00:26:30:18
Jon Orr
I’m sure they would have.

00:26:30:20 – 00:26:37:08
Sunil Kumar Singh
Yeah. Because you can still maybe learn mathematics and not be curious for it.

00:26:37:12 – 00:26:45:18
Jon Orr
Yes, I think would most people who are I could say maybe I just speak for myself. I felt like I learned a lot of mathematics, but I wasn’t put in a curious position.

00:26:45:18 – 00:26:47:01
Kyle Pearce
You did it because you had goals?

00:26:47:01 – 00:26:51:12
Jon Orr
Yeah. It was like my life goals. Learning math was a pathway over here, but not actually because of the math.

00:26:51:16 – 00:27:02:22
Sunil Kumar Singh
Yes, like I said, we all went through that my first couple of years. You know, I only assigned questions because I taught college because I think my third year. But so the first year teaching calculus, I only assigned the questions I could do.

00:27:02:24 – 00:27:06:16
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, that’s a very scary thing. As a new teacher. It is. I don’t want them to.

00:27:06:17 – 00:27:21:24
Sunil Kumar Singh
I’m here. Okay. I got to make sure this course is done perfectly. So that’s what we’re going to be doing. Questions to A, three, B, seven, C, that’s it. Or something like that. It was something like that. And only by the end did I realize, you know what? I’m going to assign them all. I’m not going to do any of them.

00:27:21:24 – 00:27:39:09
Sunil Kumar Singh
Actually, I’m not going to worry them. And I remember a couple of times I could go halfway through a question and get stuck. Honestly, get stuck. Where do you want to do it is going to park it, come back to it, and so on. Go. Well, wouldn’t you love to tell your younger self that I go? Absolutely not, because that shows how the organic process of teaching is.

00:27:39:13 – 00:28:03:15
Sunil Kumar Singh
It actually takes a lifetime to come to a comfort level. And for me, the comfort level luckily this is the part, you know, even before I got into teaching, I’ve always enjoyed mathematics not because of necessarily good at it is because I just loved sometimes getting stumped. There was no ego in terms of, okay, getting these right. In fact, I’d rather have someone give me a problem I can’t do right now.

00:28:03:15 – 00:28:29:10
Sunil Kumar Singh
Okay. If I see a problem, I go, Yeah, I know. To do that might take 20 minutes. Who am I going to impress? But very interesting to me. So we have to convey that as part of the narrative to students like the whole narrative of mathematics has been slow failure, if that’s really the narrative. And maybe paradoxically so that’s what the curiosity will come, will come from the slow, persistent, yes, we can do this.

00:28:29:10 – 00:28:41:02
Sunil Kumar Singh
Even that number 70, how long would it take in a classroom to find it’s a weird number collective. We should take a lot longer than just me giving it up. It is a word number. And why? That’s a very dangerous move.

00:28:41:04 – 00:29:03:18
Jon Orr
Yeah. And I want to comment a little bit on when you said we’ve all experienced that struggle and we value that struggle. And you mentioned that it was a career long experience to get to the comfort level of grappling with mathematics and feeling like that, comfort that you might be uncomfortable with the mathematics. And I think a lot of teachers are maybe uncomfortable with different approaches to mathematics.

00:29:03:18 – 00:29:22:23
Jon Orr
You think about the high school teachers, they just know the one way to solve it. I mean, just get that out there. But we’ve got a history of school districts teaching pedagogy, and you’re asking teachers to change their pedagogy. But the pedagogical approach is we’ve been asking teachers to change. Actually, you need to know the content at a deeper level.

00:29:22:23 – 00:29:41:07
Jon Orr
You need to know the three, five, seven different ways to solve this problem and come at it from different approaches. Because the pedagogy we’re asking people to do is let’s say we’re asking you to let students grapple with problems. And if I don’t know how to solve it in three, five different ways, then when a student solves it in a weird way, I don’t know how to do that.

00:29:41:07 – 00:30:03:08
Jon Orr
So you’ve got this weird dynamic happening here where people are saying, Focus on pedagogy, let’s do that. But the teachers aren’t actually in a great position to implement that pedagogy because we haven’t actually focused on the content and so where I get worried is if we say, Oh, you’re going to get there, but it’s going to take your whole career to get there, that part, it’s like, Wait, can we speed that up for teachers?

00:30:03:08 – 00:30:36:16
Jon Orr
Because what we are seeing with districts that we’re partnering with is probably in the history of that district, there’s never been a professional development session day workshop on the actual understanding in building flexible models and strategies with the mathematics. So think about your division, your division problem with the 70 and why That’s a weird number. There’s never probably been obsession session where you help teachers understand that mathematical concept so that they’re now in a better position to teach that lesson in the classroom.

00:30:36:18 – 00:30:51:24
Jon Orr
What we’re trying to do, and I don’t want it to be like a 30 year career by the time you get there now, you’re going to be able to be flexible and then roll moment. It’s like, now we got to help our teachers that we’re working with get there faster, knowing that really you have to grapple with the math, right?

00:30:51:24 – 00:31:01:08
Jon Orr
So it’s like we have provide more opportunities for teachers to actually do the math so that they are prepared to do the new pedagogy we’re asking them to do in the math class with kids.

00:31:01:08 – 00:31:29:00
Sunil Kumar Singh
Yeah, exactly. And I think there’s so much cushioning of the pedagogy today that it insulates you. And I think I shared a quote, My principal of a district, I’m working with which completely resonated in terms of it, is it’s like, okay, you know what? If you don’t want to do or feel comfortable with content, how about we just insulate you with the pedagogical moves, which again, on the surface everything is working okay.

00:31:29:02 – 00:31:59:02
Sunil Kumar Singh
But what I’m more interested in is, well, how will I know if these kids, after they finish school with their attitude towards mathematics? I mean, we talk about K to 12, K 20. I want to create a lifetime. So I really want the way that I teach mathematics. And I think the way you guys do as well is that if you’re going to develop a curiosity for content in the classroom, I mean you want that same curiosity for numbers and mathematics, everything that entails to have some sort of residue leaving school.

00:31:59:02 – 00:32:23:18
Sunil Kumar Singh
It just can’t be all for a compliance, any external validation in society. Now, the new California math framework came up in terms of, okay, I loved it in terms of careers, communities, civic life. Absolutely. These are all heavyweight ideas. But what it would just for yourself in terms of what does mathematics do, like make map moments, Right. I talked about that hotel you shared with the popsicle hotline.

00:32:23:20 – 00:32:51:17
Sunil Kumar Singh
I still remember that because how many popsicle hotline moments do kids have? And there’s a critical mass of them that you want to have where they go, You know what? I don’t even need you. I’m going to find my own moments. You don’t need to be there. I’m glad you showed me, But enough moments want that. I’m going to roll into this story because I know you guys would have asked this question because I looked at some of the questions that like, you know, what’s your favorite math moment or something you can share?

00:32:51:18 – 00:33:11:24
Sunil Kumar Singh
I’m going to have to say it just happened recently, August the first. And this really encapsulates, I think, our conversation. I think the power of content. So I gave a keynote August 2nd for Silicon Valley Education Foundation. They invited me to speak, okay, I’m out in San Jose, and I asked the person invited me, okay, anything else want to do, teachers, whatever.

00:33:11:24 – 00:33:33:22
Sunil Kumar Singh
And she said, without even flinching. So would you like to spend a whole day in a juvenile detention center? I said, Yes, yes, right away. So that was August the first. I came in and almost overnight, 4%, 5% Latino kids. What I didn’t know was they didn’t know I was coming in and they were coming into this library period in which they only get 30 minutes of library per week.

00:33:33:24 – 00:33:52:23
Sunil Kumar Singh
And that library time is sacred. They get to sign up books, magazines, stuff. They’re interested in. And here’s this goofball from Canada coming in to do math, and I had to think on the spot, okay, what am I going to do? Going back to trust? So first of all, I didn’t stand up. I just said, I’m from Canada and I want to be here.

00:33:53:02 – 00:34:09:05
Sunil Kumar Singh
Didn’t talk about I’m an author. They don’t care about that kind of stuff. Okay? They had their arms crossed and you could see their tattoos. And I sat down and I said this You are under no obligation. I kind of raised my voice. You’re under no obligation. I look them each in the eye. You’re under no obligation to trust who I am.

00:34:09:12 – 00:34:28:02
Sunil Kumar Singh
You don’t know me, you don’t trust me. But perhaps could you trust them up? And Maddox, they’re going to show you, which is not only for 15, 10 minutes. So I got ten, 15 minutes for these guys, got their arms crossed, showing their tattoos and everything. They’ve got bigger fish to fry in the big scheme. I’m cutting to the library.

00:34:28:04 – 00:34:47:13
Sunil Kumar Singh
Good luck, Sunil. Anyways, the person invited me bird up there again. I was the new California Math Council president. Luckily she witnessed it. I mean, you guys are to believe me anyway, but she witnessed it. So I did my content and I showed them. I think they’re familiar with the birthday cards where you can guess the people’s.

00:34:47:15 – 00:34:48:13
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, yeah.

00:34:48:15 – 00:35:12:23
Sunil Kumar Singh
Right. So I put that on the TV screen. Plus I gave them a handout and I asked the kids, okay, one by one, just find your birthdate many of those cards as possible. Tell me which card numbers. Just double check and I will tell you your birthday right away. And the first kid who volunteered, like I said, it was up to 2 seconds and he said, WTS and I count the WTS in that whole day.

00:35:13:03 – 00:35:31:02
Sunil Kumar Singh
There’s probably about 100, but there are said in a positive way right? Yeah. Right. And of course I said to these kids, I bet you if I don’t tell you how I do this, it’ll bother one of you, at least for a very long time and one of them was honest going, Yeah, it would bother me. Look at these kids in a juvenile detention center.

00:35:31:07 – 00:35:53:18
Sunil Kumar Singh
They’re sleeping on three inch mattresses, 30 minutes library time. This is not their biggest concern yet. In the moment it was. And so when I show them doing in terms of binary that yes, for example, 22 how did I find 22 I simply out of the corner numbers because the kids actually figured out that the doubling numbers were one of the top left hand corners.

00:35:53:20 – 00:36:10:06
Sunil Kumar Singh
And I said the only way to make 22 is a 16 four and a two. If I can use those switches on and off and I show them binary in code. And that was really all I did. I did one more based on the problem and I kid you not every single one of those kids, they came in small groups for security reasons.

00:36:10:08 – 00:36:36:10
Sunil Kumar Singh
Every single one of those kids left smiling, laughing couple gave me fist pumps that meant far, far, far more to me than more of those kids doing that because I get to go back to my kids safe home and all that, they’re going to go back into that. So when teachers make excuses, well, my kids can’t do this or this and that, I have zero patients.

00:36:36:12 – 00:37:03:00
Kyle Pearce
The part that just hit me there as we’re coming here to a close in this and I think this is potentially my biggest takeaway from this conversation was you highlighted something that we often advocate for, but I don’t know if I’ve ever articulated in this same way when you said to trust the mathematics and you think about those individuals who are sitting in front of you and you think about who in their life that they can trust, right?

00:37:03:00 – 00:37:24:22
Kyle Pearce
And I’m going to guess it’s a complete assumption, generalization, and maybe I shouldn’t be doing this, but I’m going to guess that more than one in every one of those groups doesn’t have anyone that they feel they can trust. And they may not have necessarily trusted you initially, but by using math and using that, it’s almost like the centering point.

00:37:24:22 – 00:37:42:16
Kyle Pearce
So it’s like, I don’t have to trust you, Sunil, but we can both trust this. And once you create that trust together, all of a sudden it builds trust between you as well. It’s almost like you’ve allowed it to be like, Hey, don’t worry about me, let’s focus on that. And then once they do and they see it and they trust and they’re like, Whoa, I mean, he was right there.

00:37:42:16 – 00:38:04:08
Kyle Pearce
I trusted him. I can trust this guy. And you think about the impact that that can have as an educator in any classroom, because there’s kids in our classes who are in a similar situation. And oftentimes you can’t even tell, Right. You don’t even know. But there’s a student in your class who’s showing up and doesn’t have anyone they feel that they can truly trust in their world.

00:38:04:11 – 00:38:21:21
Kyle Pearce
And that to me is such a powerful thought. So when I think back to old Kyle that used to show up to school and I’d be like, I got to get through this today, this today, this today, this today. What I pictured you doing when you sat down with that group was the math. We’ll see what we get to.

00:38:21:23 – 00:38:44:11
Kyle Pearce
But the number one thing on my agenda is I’ve got to find some way to make a connection to build that trust. But you actually use the math as your tool to help you build the trust, which again, I’m seeing it in a different light in a different way. And it gets me excited because this episode, I believe, is going to go live on October 30th and sometimes we shuffle things around in the schedule.

00:38:44:11 – 00:39:03:00
Kyle Pearce
But if this does go live October 30th, that means we’re just two weeks away or just over two and a half weeks away from the virtual summit this year. And Sunil, you’re going to be joining us there. And actually at this point, we’re recording this in August. I don’t even think we have a title for your session descriptor.

00:39:03:03 – 00:39:23:07
Kyle Pearce
But guess what? I wouldn’t even care if you even submitted one, because when I go into your session, I know that the experience is always going to lead me to some big takeaways as an educator. And for those who are listening, if you’ve never seen Snell present before, you should definitely sign up for this summit. It is a free event.

00:39:23:07 – 00:39:33:18
Kyle Pearce
It’s live. It’s November 17th, 18th and 19th this year. We do it every year in November, and this is our fifth summit. And Snell feel like you’ve been a part of it.

00:39:33:18 – 00:39:34:24
Jon Orr
For like four.

00:39:35:03 – 00:39:37:02
Sunil Kumar Singh
More years, I think, for them. Yeah.

00:39:37:02 – 00:40:04:12
Kyle Pearce
Holy smokes. That’s a pretty awesome record for presenters. So I think we’re going to wrap it here and I hope people, when they’re listening, they’re going, Holy smokes, you’ve got a big takeaway. I just shared mine. Sunil, if you had to leave people with one thought, one idea, one sort of morsel of new learning that they can walk away with here, what do you want them to be thinking about when they think back to this episode with Sunil?

00:40:04:14 – 00:40:24:05
Sunil Kumar Singh
Well, this will kind of tie in perfectly. I know you didn’t think I would have a title, but I do have a title for the present. It’s in November, so it’s called Uplifting Students by Uplifting Mathematics. What that is really saying is your goal as a teacher, I know every teacher has good intentions. Yes. You want to uplift your students.

00:40:24:07 – 00:40:29:19
Sunil Kumar Singh
What I’m saying is the best way to do it is by also uplifting the mathematics.

00:40:29:19 – 00:40:31:04
Kyle Pearce
You just tied it with a bow.

00:40:31:06 – 00:40:53:01
Sunil Kumar Singh
Yeah. Yeah, it’s universal. I mean, if I can do it, I want to say this because you mentioned a really good point is that I took my self out of the equation and look what happened. I was just a conduit messenger to it. So I think the big takeaway really is, is that take your self out of the question equation.

00:40:53:03 – 00:41:11:18
Sunil Kumar Singh
You can put yourself back in later once all the discussion starts in a nice place of ferment, but focus on mathematics and your curiosity for it even can be small. I’m still a learner for content. You can come on this on my app any time. So yeah, definitely focus on content.

00:41:11:20 – 00:41:41:08
Jon Orr
Love it. That’s a great message to leave everyone moving away from this podcast into the day or the evening, or maybe you’re just kind of wrapping the school day. So great message there for us and we look forward to your presentation at the summit this year. I want to thank you for joining us. Before we do head off where should people, if they want to learn more about the work you’re doing, the books you’ve written, some of the sessions that you’re involved in and the projects you’re involved in, Where can folks go to learn more about that?

00:41:41:10 – 00:41:46:03
Sunil Kumar Singh
So I’m still on Twitter or X or whatever it’s called. I mean.

00:41:46:05 – 00:41:49:03
Kyle Pearce
Might be something new by the time you arrive.

00:41:49:05 – 00:42:11:24
Sunil Kumar Singh
If the day by day internet. Yeah, I’m exaggerating, but maybe not. So you are still on Twitter at Math Garden. A lot of the writing I do now is the Human Restoration Project, which I was on the board directors and I was president, but I had to drop down because I want to work with them in terms of doing some of the humanistic ideas of math, education so you can find a human restoration project.

00:42:12:01 – 00:42:33:06
Sunil Kumar Singh
I have a my first website will finally be available probably at the end of the year. I’ve never had a website, but I think because I’m writing a book on rock and roll, become the Venn diagram of mathematics and books about rock music will finally exist. So you’ll have a website then. But yeah, for now, definitely on Twitter.

00:42:33:06 – 00:42:35:20
Sunil Kumar Singh
And that restoration project.

00:42:35:22 – 00:42:58:05
Kyle Pearce
That’s fantastic. Hey Snell It is always a pleasure to have you on the show and we will add those links, any of the other interesting articles, your books. And that I believe is going to be your fourth book coming out called Sonic Seducer. And I got to say, the cover is awesome, inspiring from former band member to look at that.

00:42:58:05 – 00:43:14:02
Kyle Pearce
So I’m really excited to dig into that and hear your thoughts and perspectives there. And as always, we look forward to our next time we chat, hopefully in person, maybe at a conference, maybe somewhere down the road. Absolutely. Yeah. Stay in touch, my friend, and have an awesome, awesome rest of your day.

00:43:14:04 – 00:43:16:13
Sunil Kumar Singh
Okay, cool. John Super. Thanks for having me.

00:43:16:13 – 00:43:39:07
Kyle Pearce
Thank you, sir. Take care. Well, friends, in today’s episode, we got to catch up with Sunil, and Sunil is one of those guys. We just spoke with Peter on the same day, Peter Leela Hall and we often say, like Peter’s a great friend, colleague, someone that we look to and love to riff on math ideas with is just rabbit holes all day long.

00:43:39:13 – 00:44:02:08
Kyle Pearce
Sunil’s another one of those guys great to chat about. We could chat about regular life, but it always seems to come back to math or pedagogy or teaching, just these elements. And something I really appreciated about this conversation. And I think it’s always been true for Sunil, but sometimes people don’t pick up on it is just the importance of the roots of the tree.

00:44:02:13 – 00:44:23:16
Kyle Pearce
We talked about it with Peter that really the content is at the core and. I would say Sunil really, really models that behavior, this idea that pedagogy comes second. We talked about this idea of starting out that surface and going deep. You can have a surface relationship with students, but in order to get a real trust, you got to go deep, right?

00:44:23:16 – 00:44:48:07
Kyle Pearce
And the same is true with the mathematics. We could stick out a surface. We can stay up here and do all these different pedagogical moves. We can try them all we want. But if there is no depth to the content, if there is no roots there, and you can picture that tree, we don’t dig down and go under that tree and see a really complex, a really intricate root system, then the math is kind of all for not right.

00:44:48:07 – 00:45:17:24
Kyle Pearce
And that’s something here that I think really popped for me. It’s so easy to see the leaves of the tree. We think about the resources and we think about that. It’s easy to see the pedagogical moves, the branches of the tree. But then as we get down deeper and deeper and we think about the trunk, the leadership, and then the actual roots of the tree, the mindset, beliefs that sun, soil, soil, water, it’s really, really hard to see those pieces or at least it’s easy to miss them.

00:45:18:01 – 00:45:22:23
Kyle Pearce
And that’s something that I hope you took away. That’s what I took away from this episode. How about you, John?

00:45:23:01 – 00:45:42:24
Jon Orr
Yeah, I totally agree with you. I was going to go hard The soil, the water, the sunlight, and also the trunk of the tree. And the reason why the soil, water or sunlight, which is the mindset are educator mindset, art student mindset is that so Neil talked a lot about building trust. And if we’re going to build trust with our students, we have to have that mindset.

00:45:42:24 – 00:46:02:22
Jon Orr
And when he’s saying, let’s focus on content, soon as you start focusing on the content and understanding the content, that naturally is going to start shifting your mindset towards what’s really important in mathematics. And we talked about that here in this episode. So like all of the aspects of the tree, they’re all connected, right? They’re all part of a tree.

00:46:02:22 – 00:46:25:16
Jon Orr
So they’re all interconnected. So once you start going in analyzing one, you’re naturally going to start to shift others. And that’s what happens when you start to focus specifically on how you can build your better understanding of content, your roots of your tree. You’re naturally going to start to shift your mindset, which is your soil, water, sunlight. But then also at the same time, when we think of classroom experience, it’s in the trunk of the tree.

00:46:25:16 – 00:46:44:14
Jon Orr
We’re talking about classroom culture, and that trunk has to be strong. And soon as you start shifting mindsets, you’re going to start shifting. How do I or what can do to engage my students in a trusting culture? And we talked about that here too, with focusing specifically on content. So Sunil’s approach of focusing on content hits a bunch of the areas.

00:46:44:14 – 00:47:12:24
Jon Orr
So think about that to folks. When you’re walking away from this episode is what does your tree look like? And if you’re not sure exactly how to strengthen some of these parts of the tree and you want a little bit more, you can head on over to make math moments dot com forwards that report and take our assessment at about a ten minute, 12 minute assessment and it’s going to give you a report on what area of the tree you could focus on a little bit deeper and give you next steps and action items in your email inbox so that you can take action.

00:47:12:24 – 00:47:21:06
Jon Orr
So check over on make map moments dot com for such report and Kyle I think skills joining us on the upcoming summit which is happening in November.

00:47:21:12 – 00:47:47:10
Kyle Pearce
That’s absolutely right John we are having our fifth annual free virtual summit every November we’ve had this summit and it is a blast. We typically have somewhere between ten and 20,000 people registering for this event and it is 100% free to attend live, which is awesome. So head on over to make math moments dot com forward slash summit.

00:47:47:12 – 00:48:07:08
Kyle Pearce
You can get yourself registered for this free event. We encourage you to share this event with your colleagues on the website and on that homepage. You can download a flier and share that on the staff room table however you choose. But really, first and foremost, get yourself registered and then share that link with as many of your colleagues as you can.

00:48:07:08 – 00:48:29:02
Kyle Pearce
District leaders reach out to us. We’ve got some ways that we can support you in sharing this message as well. Once again, November 17th, 18th and 19th. That’s just a couple of weeks away from this episode. This episode is being released October 30th of 2023. And on November 17th, 18th, 19th, you can attend, you can attend one session or you can attend.

00:48:29:02 – 00:48:57:12
Kyle Pearce
All the sessions are totally up to you, but we would recommend that you register so that you don’t miss out. Sunil will be there, Peter will be there. We’ve got Kathy Fazio joining us again this year. We’ve got so many different people. Christopher Childs will be joining us. So many great speakers about so many different topics that connect to different parts of math, classroom, tree and district leaders for the math program, tree for your district.

00:48:57:13 – 00:49:02:12
Kyle Pearce
So definitely get on over there, make math moments, dot com forward slash summit.

00:49:02:14 – 00:49:13:11
Jon Orr
Folks Show notes and links to resources from this episode can be found over at McMath moments dot com for episode 257 McMath moments dot com for episode 257.

00:49:13:13 – 00:49:17:08
Kyle Pearce
Well until next time math moment maker friends I’m Kyle Pierce.

00:49:17:08 – 00:49:18:15
Jon Orr
And I’m John or.

00:49:18:18 – 00:49:21:13
Kyle Pearce
High fives for us.

00:49:21:15 – 00:49:36:14
Jon Orr
And high five for you Oh eight.

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The Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast with Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr
Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building a math classroom that you wish you were in.


Download the 2-page printable 3 Act Math Tip Sheet to ensure that you have the best start to your journey using 3 Act math Tasks to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in your math classroom!

3 Act Math Tip Sheet


Each lesson consists of:

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson consists of a Teacher Guide to lead you step-by-step through the planning process to ensure your lesson runs without a hitch!

Each Teacher Guide consists of:

  • Intentionality of the lesson;
  • A step-by-step walk through of each phase of the lesson;
  • Visuals, animations, and videos unpacking big ideas, strategies, and models we intend to emerge during the lesson;
  • Sample student approaches to assist in anticipating what your students might do;
  • Resources and downloads including Keynote, Powerpoint, Media Files, and Teacher Guide printable PDF; and,
  • Much more!

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson begins with a story, visual, video, or other method to Spark Curiosity through context.

Students will often Notice and Wonder before making an estimate to draw them in and invest in the problem.

After student voice has been heard and acknowledged, we will set students off on a Productive Struggle via a prompt related to the Spark context.

These prompts are given each lesson with the following conditions:

  • No calculators are to be used; and,
  • Students are to focus on how they can convince their math community that their solution is valid.

Students are left to engage in a productive struggle as the facilitator circulates to observe and engage in conversation as a means of assessing formatively.

The facilitator is instructed through the Teacher Guide on what specific strategies and models could be used to make connections and consolidate the learning from the lesson.

Often times, animations and walk through videos are provided in the Teacher Guide to assist with planning and delivering the consolidation.

A review image, video, or animation is provided as a conclusion to the task from the lesson.

While this might feel like a natural ending to the context students have been exploring, it is just the beginning as we look to leverage this context via extensions and additional lessons to dig deeper.

At the end of each lesson, consolidation prompts and/or extensions are crafted for students to purposefully practice and demonstrate their current understanding. 

Facilitators are encouraged to collect these consolidation prompts as a means to engage in the assessment process and inform next moves for instruction.

In multi-day units of study, Math Talks are crafted to help build on the thinking from the previous day and build towards the next step in the developmental progression of the concept(s) we are exploring.

Each Math Talk is constructed as a string of related problems that build with intentionality to emerge specific big ideas, strategies, and mathematical models. 

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

Use our OPEN ACCESS multi-day problem based units!

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

MMM Unit - Snack Time Fractions Unit


Partitive Division Resulting in a Fraction

Shot Put Multi Day Problem Based Unit - Algebraic Substitution


Equivalence and Algebraic Substitution

Wooly Worm Race - Representing and Adding Fractions


Fractions and Metric Units


Scavenger Hunt - Data Management and Finding The Mean


Represent Categorical Data & Explore Mean

Downloadable resources including blackline mastershandouts, printable Tips Sheetsslide shows, and media files do require a Make Math Moments Academy Membership.


Pedagogically aligned for teachers of K through Grade 12 with content specific examples from Grades 3 through Grade 10.

In our self-paced, 12-week Online Workshop, you'll learn how to craft new and transform your current lessons to Spark Curiosity, Fuel Sense Making, and Ignite Your Teacher Moves to promote resilient problem solvers.