5 FAQ!

I am currently putting together a list  for my blog of some areas of Intermediate math which I identified as qualifying for the  ‘often-missing-but-really-need-to-know-bits’… but for today here are some FAQ of me as a teacher:

My experience: 5 FAQ from parents re Intermediate math!

1. How can I get my child to learn their Times Tables? Aghhhhh…. (this is definitely number one!)

2. Which method should we be using to solve multiplication and division questions? Is ‘my’ method ok?

3. How do you change fractions into decimals/percentages? Is there an easy way?

4. What is the point of worded problems?!!! Why do children need to do them?

5. What are mean, mode, median? Is there an easy way to ‘get’ them?

Getting ready for September

I think that once one has been a teacher, no matter where in the world, one always starts to get a ‘tummy feeling’ mid August that indicates that the school term is just around the corner, and the mind starts to go down a certain path towards getting ready, preparing for students and generally getting back ‘into the zone’!

I see fun social media posts from teacher friends about how they feel as the start of the new term looms, and even though I am now not heading ‘to a school classroom’ as such in September, I am beginning to think about my 1:1 teaching and about how BtGM is on its next leg of the journey. But of course, still making sure to make the most of summer weeks! I also have a lot of preparation to do for the talks and conferences happening in fall.

Most of the time over summer for me has been spent planning and preparing the next stages of the journey for the book, and my biggest challenge, as always, has been PR, marketing and generally getting awareness of the book’s existence ‘out there’… so this coming week, I am working at trying to connect with school districts to try to figure out the best way to do this.

Also, I have had a try at ‘boosting’ on FB to try out the idea of widening my social media networking- again, this is something I don’t find easy and I feel like I am feeling my way in the dark most of the time!! I try to get people to ‘like’, ‘share’ and do all the other things everyone else in the world seems to know about except me- but hey, I am trying…

Thank you to all the people who listen patiently when I phone them for advice and try to guide me and help. And now I must get on with more phone calls to school districts to see if they can help me… happy August!

Reflecting on testimonials

Receiving feedback on the book and program is such a wonderful thing. These two are 2 of the first ones right after the launch, and they make me feel warm every time I re-read them.

‘My son was missing foundational math pieces that left him discouraged and confused. Laurie’s program filled those gaps and maybe more importantly built his confidence in math. He went from barely passing, to an easy A.’ – Sandra (parent)
‘My grades skyrocketed with these methods and my understanding of math deepened. I highly recommend not only for struggling students but anyone who wants to strengthen their basics. The skills Laurie provides are easy to follow and fun to learn.’ – Lucy (student)

Testimonials have continued to come back right to date, and each and every one is very special to me.

The relief felt by parents that there is a simple way to address concerns has been a common theme; but the most wonderful warmth for me is to hear that it has eased a young person’s anxiety-knot for them to believe in themselves.

I am ultra busy again now preparing for the next stages in the book’s journey- the turn from July to August is a sharp one, as having had time to relax off a little, people are now starting to think about the September return to math… not easy when the sunshine tempts us outside to enjoy the outdoors… HAPPY AUGUST!

Planning for fall events!

BtGM has some exciting events planned for fall, so save the dates if interested or able to get there 😊
24th Sept 6:15pm… North Van City Library talk/book promo
25th Sept 7pm… Lynn Valley Library talk/book promo
21st Oct… private talk for a North Van Parents Group (bookings being taken)
25th Oct… Surrey BCAMT Conference (Association of Math Teachers): speaker and exhibitor
Other events in the pipeline😊
Also hoping to visit Saltspring island in the fall… and other Gulf Islands… but!!!!…  now also starting to think about getting further afield around BC and beyond for visits, talks, presentations etc to increase awareness of the book’s existence.

End of first leg!

A mixture of excitement and exhaustion as we come to the end of the first Jan-July stage!

A visit to UK to talk with educators, head teachers, old teaching colleagues about launching a UK edition was very exciting, and now need to start things rolling there. Thank you to all who gave their time.

But now a big focus on second stage of marketing and promotion in Canada (we still have a lot to learn), and the diary is already starting to fill with speaking events, talks and conferences Sept to Dec.

If I am honest, I am dazed at the thought that my book is now in homes across Canada. I am feeling very positive about the project and again thank all the people who have helped make this a reality. Happy summer… let’s hope the bridge from summer to fall is long and relaxing!

Times Tables... 'what... AGAIN?'

A conversation with a mom who was just starting the program for the summer and to continue into next academic year, led her to ask the question:

‘Ok- I see that it is really important to get going with UNIT 4 Times Tables, but can you tell me where we should begin?’

This was interesting to ponder over, and so I suggested she do what I do when I have a new student…. I find out where they are ‘at’… and it starts by me asking the students where s/he feels they are ‘at’ with Times Tables. This sometimes results in a shoulder shrug, and a look of despondency… so I quickly make a list like this: 2x 3x 4x 5x 6x 7x 8x 9x 10x 11x 12x, and ask , ‘Which ones do you sort-of-feel-ok with’?

Then (usually) we come to the conclusion that s/he feels ‘sort of ok’ with 2x, 5x, 10x, 11x, and so I explore this further to see whether the student can just count up in those steps, or if the ‘facts’ are known ‘quick-fact’ style. Whichever level they are at, I make a big deal of celebrating the fact they feel ‘ok’ with these- THIS IS A GREAT START!! WELL DONE.

Then I work on firming these up by using the ideas/tips explored in my book, and try to get the 2x, 5x, 10x, 11x to a ‘quick fact knowledge’ status… or ‘fairly-quick’ fact status.

Then I move on to teaching the 9x and 12x tricks (to be found in Unit 4), and start to build up the confidence by playing ‘hot seat’ where I ask any TT from the ones covered so far, and wait patiently, with no time challenges or pressures to see if the student can reach the answer. AT THIS POINT… CONFIDENCE IS ON ITS WAY UP!! AND THIS IS SO KEY. Time for another celebration.

Once 2x/5x/9x/10x/11x/12x are starting to feel somewhere near, I then move onto 3x and 4x… which then of course only leaves 6x, 7x, 8x… but HEY PRESTO…. the student will be delighted to see that most of the 6x, 7x, 8x facts are actually covered already from learning the others (as e.g. 4 x 6 will have been ‘covered’ by knowing the 4s).

This confidence and skill building of the TT facts will help the student to cope with so much up and coming math- as I have mentioned before in my blogs.

I think you are starting to get the feeling that I feel that learning TT is so, so, so important to feeling better about future math!! And don’t worry if learning them takes time… now is the only time we have to get started! One day at a time….

More little summer ideas!

Some nice feedback from moms re little ideas for summer- so here are a few more… a quick fun discussion to have re what we know about triangles and quadrilaterals...

Can you name and draw 3 different types of triangles... and can you name and draw 6 different quadrilaterals? And when you look at the first few letters of 'tri'angle and 'quad'rilateral, what do you notice?

This can be done with really young children- or older children who have deeper understanding of geometry. Even more fun when done with colours and big paper- with a ruler or without- just get talking about shape! 

Math is fun! 😍 And certainly summer is not a time to feel overwhelmed with it, but little things can make a difference… (do keep the Times Tables at the forefront of the mind though- they are SO important and feed into so, so much future math success).

summer almost here

Well, summer is almost here, and it feels so good that we have some time ahead to relax, enjoy the summer and just kick back! PHEW!!

But moms, dads, students and parents know that come September it sometimes feels like we have forgotten everything we ever knew about math ha ha!!

So it is a good idea to do just a little, ‘teeny’ bit of math about twice a week over part of the summer- nothing heavy… just maybe identify a few tiny goals!

What type of thing?

Maybe ten minutes on a couple of days every week… how about a few minutes counting up in a Times Table, maybe doing just one question for division, maybe drawing 2D or 3D shapes… what about looking at mls on shampoo or milk containers, or maybe figuring out how g and Kg feature on weighing scales.

Never underestimate how just doing ONE little review question of skills already covered (e.g. one long division= 5 mins… counting up in 4s= 5 mins… naming six different quadrilaterals= 3 mins… one column subtraction= 5 mins) can keep skills REALLY HOT!!

Worth doing? I really think so. But go with the flow… after all, it is summer and we deserve to chill out and enjoy!


A deep breath after 'phase one'!

Friday 24th, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th May saw two events to bring the presentations, workshops, ‘speaker-spots’ and talks on Intermediate math to a close for summer (unless something pops up last minute!). The learning curve since January this year has been so, so steep, but utterly wonderful.

Fri 24th/Sat 25th was the Langley Home School Conference, where I was both exhibitor and speaker. I LOVED the event and met some wonderful people and ‘connections’- all of whom I hope to re-connect with over summer or fall- some exciting things in the pipeline!

Sun 26th was my talk at the beautiful venue of Cove Commons on Bowen Island (where we had the ‘book launch’ only 17 weeks ago… REALLY?!!)- also wonderful, as was able to talk with parents about Intermediate math and beyond. As always, a huge focus was on Times Tables knowledge and how it has a huge impact on math success. This also marked for me that I am starting to feel at ease with presenting, and have come a long way from where I started out.

So since last weekend, we have been able to reflect on where we are and make some decisions about how to move forward.

I hope to see my book helping parents and students across the whole of Canada… and when an order comes in from Alberta, Ontario, Prince George, Kootenays, Yukon etc. I pinch myself to think of the (my!!) book sitting on the table of those homes.

Now it is time to consider how best to go about marketing in a bigger picture… but one DL school teacher said to me that ‘word-of-mouth’ is THE most powerful form of marketing for a new math resource like mine, and that feels reassuring as we go about thinking about this next phase/next chapter in the Bridge the Gap Math journey.

THANK YOU sincerely to all those people who have helped me to piece little jigsaw pieces together. I am grateful to each and every one of you.

And I will never ever forget how the utterly wonderful Michelle Peters, (the book’s designer) enabled us to reach this stage- her patience, professionalism, creativeness and kindness will be with me forever- she is with me whenever I pick it up to admire the cover and the pages. Thank you MP!

'high concentration alert!'

Great feedback this week from parents using the book... how helpful the ‘high-concentration-alert’ is!!

It is simply an exclamation mark in the corner of some of the pages in the book, where the concept and content will require ‘full power’ concentration... to ensure timing is just right and students are able to turn their brain power onto full. This is for concepts that are a little more demanding e.g. long multiplication or using a protractor. A ‘heads-up’ for better success.

Do remember, a big strength of the book for parents and students, is that EVERY concept is only ever one page long. Do-able and not overwhelming.

The moral of this- don’t do the H-C-A pages if the student is tired or hungry!

Good to hear!

wow, wow, wow

16 weeks from the book launch Jan 19th, and what a time. Today’s blog is a chance for me to take stock and reflect on where we are with Bridge the Gap Math™ .

Jan 3rd: local newspaper article: launch event Jan 19th on Bowen Island

Feb 6-11th: Canadian Online Home School Conference

Mar 5th: first presentation: Bowen Island Community School: ‘Let’s Talk Intermediate Math!’

April 26/27th: speaker and exhibitor at Kelowna BC CHEC Conference

May 1st: speaker at North Vancouver City Library

May 3rd: exhibitor at BC CPAC, Richmond- an incredible experience for me to connect with principals, teachers, DPACs, parents and education ministers

May 7th: presentation at Island Discovery Learning Community (IDLC) DL, Bowen Island

And coming up...

May 17th: INSET presentation on Intermediate math at a West Van Elementary School

May 24/25th: speaker and exhibitor at BC Home Learning Conference (BC HLC), Langley

May 26th: presentation at Bowen Island Public Library- parent workshop: using summer to firm up math

Sept & Oct/ fall and new year...  3  Sept /Oct bookings for talks at PACS and libraries... and more in the pipeline

Taking bulk orders from schools and groups is helping us to see that all the hard work has been worthwhile; now it is time to follow up the new directions, connections, and begin to look at the new roles opening up for me as educator and author... and time to develop further the idea of having ‘speaker’ as a main role in my career.

Wonderful to really FEEL in my heart that this product CAN make a difference. Feedback has been unbelievable. Every parent WANTS to be able to support their child at home to do well in math; and I KNOW it works. I FEEL I can help Canada to see more children reaching the end of Grade 7 with a firm foundation and confidence in math. Dare I share my target, that I hope to see this book in every household where there is a G 4, 5, 6 or 7 student? My book CAN make a difference. There. I did dare and I said it. Big dreams, big plans maybe... but still back to teaching it this coming Mon to Fri ha ha!

Times Tables... so, so, so central

As I prepare for my speaker role in 2 days’ time (BC CHEC, Kelowna), I cannot write a blog entry today about anything else other than Times Tables, although this was my theme here just a few weeks ago (see the long list of concepts which rely on TT knowledge a few entries back… Feb 22nd)

One of the most amazing moments for me as a math teacher was when I was working 2 weeks ago with a G8 student who had asked me to help with division, as he was finding it impossible to handle.

The worded problem causing the issue boiled down to needing to find 25% of 783.65

So I stepped back a little and did some basic figuring out what the student could and could not do… it transpired that he knew that 25% was a quarter… knew this meant dividing by 4… he knew how to do the mechanics of long division, and also short division, and was sophisticated enough to know which of these to use… and he knew how to figure out the final answer. BUT, WHAT THE REAL ISSUE turned out to be, was that because he did not know his 4x table to have the quick facts at the ready, OR how to count up in fours confidently, the whole thing fell apart- by the time he had figured out how many fours fitted in to each step of the division, he had become lost in the steps. Lost, frustrated and disheartened.

Having a grip on Times Tables really is central to accessing MOST concepts (see list in previous blog entry) covered after G5/6!!

Coping with any division question needs one to have a grip on Times Tables.

Find a way to nail the Times Tables. You will be so glad you did!!

I will be making a huge thing of this in my talk… not long now (gulp).

Best quote of my teaching/program review week:
"Oh wow- I thought it was division I was struggling with... but it wasn't... it was not knowing my (Times) Tables... this has SO helped!!"

Inspiring speaker

I was lucky enough to attend a 4 hour long workshop/talk last week given by Joshua Angiola form New Westminster School District… he was speaking at Bowen Island IDLC (Home Learning Centre). He was sharing math ‘lesson’ ideas to enable parents to pick up ideas for making learning math ‘live’, colourful and meaningful. It was so wonderful to listen to someone currently central to mainstream and home learning math teaching in BC and I loved learning more details about how math is taught in many centres, schools and homes. Thank you Josh for an interesting, informative and interactive session.

I found it very refreshing to sit back and listen, as I have been so engrossed recently in developing my own program; it made me feel alive to be part of this! We are all trying to make math something to make friends with and be  excited about… and to make the experiences of students working through their math journey be  positive ones! There are so many people working to find WAYS to make math meaningful… and developing methods and programs to suit different learning styles/needs- because let’s face it- we are all very different in the ways we learn anything- and it is so exciting that there are so many educators committed to researching different ways to teach math, so it can reach everyone.

Math is part of ALL our lives, every day.

I am so excited now about the Kelowna BC CHEC Conference (only a week away), as it will mean further connections with people who are trying to find ways to make math success accessible, do-able and achievable.  One more run through of my presentation to do (or maybe 2)… and then it’ll be here! I hope I can come across as well as Josh.

Happy Easter- count your Easter eggs, multiply them, divide them, look at their shape, fraction them up, sort them…. and then eat them. Or on second thoughts, just eat them.

Big events… big deals… big deep breaths!

So this week has been all about preparing for my speaking events, and I’m feeling excited and hopeful that this next chapter is taking me on a path towards being able to reach further afield audiences. My hope is that this book becomes a valued staple product across Canada.

My very first presentation in March, ‘Let’s talk Intermediate Math’ was a big deal for me, kindly made possible by the principal and PAC of Bowen Island Community School. Since then, I have honed the content, tweaked and tailored it more towards cramming as much content in as possible demonstrating methods, techniques and ideas to share the things I do with my students when they are here 1:1. After all, the content of the lessons is what the whole program/book is about- it is a script- taken right from my core! My cats have been very patient throughout all my trial runs… and are rather rude in that they do sleep through most of it.

The up and coming events are:

  • Kelowna BC CHEC (exhibitor and speaker) 26th/27th April

  • North Vancouver City Library (Lonsdale): speaker… and books available to buy… 7pm May 1st

  • BCCPAC: conference at Richmond… May 3rd (just an exhibitor here)

  • IDLC:  private Home Learning School on Bowen: speaker at private PAC gathering May 7th

  • Langley Home School Conference 24th/25th May (speaker and exhibitor)

  • Speaker at Bowen Library 26th May

  • And I am hoping to do many more later in the year as have several in the pipeline.

The content of the talks is 5 mins bio to let people know I am a qualified teacher of 28 years (where did that time go?), and then 30 mins talking about the issues surrounding how we can help students cope better with Intermediate math and the mental and physical journey towards and then through high school; but then the rest of the time (30-40 mins depending on how much time I have) demonstrating some of my most successful and simple as possible techniques- these mini-lessons have proved to be most helpful to parents.

Wish me luck.

BtGM... reaching and helping... who for??

As I make my way (slowly) through the tricky (for me) marketing process of the book’s journey to ‘get it out there’ across Canada (I am finding the social media part so hard to understand- deep sigh), I have found myself in conversations with a wide variety of people in different ‘education’ situations.

I needed to evaluate, so thought it would be good for this week’s BLOG. So here is a summary of people with whom I have had conversations around how the book can be used to help…. and some audiences, customers and ‘areas of learning’ looking at or using the book/program so far:

  • mainstream students/parents in upper elementary school to firm up, backtrack or fast-track core math concepts

  • mainstream students/parents in high school to backtrack

  • mainstream use in schools (private & public schools/academies- possible ‘Intervention program’ for G6/7)

  • home learning: DLs/schools/programs/PACS (POs now accepted from DLs)

  • learning centres/tutoring centres

  • teenage students working through the book alone

  • teaching assistants (EAs) own reference

  • adult use- for own learning or to help support their children

  • special education: (DL, Public, Private) language based learning/ADHD/dyslexia/autism

  • students with math anxiety

  • International students (a target is to connect with more International Baccalaureate programs)

spring break closes- preparing students for next step

Now is a good time for parents to start thinking about getting math back on track ready for the next math ‘chapter’… and it is a good time to take stock of where we are. To use the next 12 weeks up to summer to firm up some essentials, particularly Times Tables as they feed in to so much, is a great idea . I am so happy the book is helping so many….. and in such a wide variety of learning needs/reasons/styles/scenarios.

One parent fed back this week that they found it useful to have the short videos (I am so proud of them- raw as they are!), and also to read the suggested first session guidance in the book introduction, as they said getting started was a big thing.

I am excited to say that in addition to the Langley and Kelowna Education Conferences (where I am     delighted to be a speaker and vendor at both), I am now also going to be at the BC CPAC conference in  May!! So exciting for me in this next stage of Bridge the Gap Math.

Deep breath for parents, students and new math book authors!

spring break reflections

Spring break and exactly 9 weeks since launch.

Working with my math students 1:1 still whilst the book has been ‘shared out there’ has felt rather odd- like as I am (still) saying the same things to teach concepts, others are doing it at the same time, reading my book!

I know this program WORKS!! I see children leaving, punching the air; their chests are expanded and their heads are high… with pride and RELIEF.

Feedback from mainstream, homelearning and special education has been coming to me via various mediums- Facebook and other social media, personal messages, repeat orders, telephone conversations and oral feedback locally. I am definitely feeling that it is more versatile than I first imagined it to be: the simplicity (short, snappy, comforting, to-the-point, no-big-deal-feel) is hitting the spot for children wanting to get ahead, those wanting to back track with dignity and those needing a different approach to what is already out there; several adults have taken it for their own use! And that is what it is… a collection of ONLY the main fundamentals arranged in a way to FEEL do-able in and amongst the other zillion aspects to a day.

I now need to find the best and most appropriate way to share big time with mainstream, homeschool and Special Education, via conferences, speaking publically about my passion for Intermediate math essentials being in place, workshops, social media, emailing and networking. I continue to worry about being weak in social media understanding, but am working on it. Andy and I are hoping to have some simple videos on the website ASAP as many parents have said they would like it.

Next steps for me now are BC CHEC speaker, speaking to Lonsdale Home Learner Group, speaking at North Van City Library, Langley Home School Conference, and making a plan of how to go about this next chapter.

Wonderful feedback and testimonials keep coming- so thank you to all.

Reaching special education and learning differences... including autism, ADHD and anxiety

This week has taken my mind, my energies and the book in a wonderfully new direction, where I have realized how the program is helping children with special needs, individual education plans and learning differences… but who are able to access and work on math covered in the Intermediate stage of mainstream math- children with a desire to work on math but in small portions, math pages with a simple layout and a not-overwhelming feel… helpful and comforting stepping stones for learners with autism, ADHD, math anxiety... or for children who just need a program which feels do-able, one small step at a time.

This is from a parent and teacher of children with Individual education plans:

“What a great resource this is- full of short and sweet, easy to implement mini-lessons that cover everything from grades 4-7. A much needed resource for all learners to make sure the bases are covered for a strong start in high school.” March 2019 

My brain is buzzing with how versatile the program is proving to be… so much so, that I am feeling I need to get straight in my mind which direction to go in first, and realizing I need to think through a strategy of how to go about this next phase…………… and in addition to the audiences I already had in mind, I have had it suggested, and do feel that it could maybe be an INTERVENTION PROGRAM for mainstream G6/7 ??? and a special education staple??? Having these put to me has made me realize that I have a lot of thinking to do…

I have indeed found myself talking a lot to individuals about HOW best to use it for DIFFERENT scenarios. From mainstream fast track and backtrack, from older teens wanting to find something to help them firm up without feeling a failure, from children with learning differences who find it comforting and manageable… to adults wanting to firm up math to help THEM feel better equipped to be able to help their children. I feel that making people aware that I am here to TALK about individual situations might be something I need to put on the website, so I need to think this through this coming week. Happy spring break all.

Accepting POs (Purchase Orders) from Home Schooling Groups

A little step further along the right lines- with the help of a patient husband and very helpful people in Home Learning Groups, I found out how to be able to accept POs as payment for the book. Only registered with Heritage Christian Online School right now, but have been able to add to the BUY NOW page, that if people let me know their group, I will process an application so POs can be used. Hopefully a step in the right direction to connecting with Home Learning Groups.

Next job…  we need to learn how to reach out to a larger network of Home Schooling Groups and Schools!

Every week there is another little piece of the jigsaw in place… I bumped into a friend in my local store today who asked how long it took me to write the book- I told her it took 6 weeks to write and then three years to reach publication ha ha! One step at a time Laurie… I always did want everything to happen YESTERDAY!!

I have such faith in Bridge the Gap Math™- but my tech and social media skills are still in the Dark Ages… sigh. Ah well- onwards and upwards.