Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Self-Paced Option for SAT Math Prep

Since the launch of the New SAT I’ve taught 6 sections of SAT Math. I love teaching the class and meeting so many wonderful students. One thing that I’ve learned is that my students are very busy. Sometimes carving out time to study for the SATs or to add one more live class is challenging.

With that in mind I created a self-paced version of the course. This 14-week self-paced SAT Math Prep course is a great option for the highly motivated or exceptionally busy student. At the beginning of the course students can opt for a 7-week or 14-week study plan. The study plan is also developed based on their goal score and how much time they have allocated to studying. Study plans are broken down into manageable chunks and help students study consistently.

All of the materials referenced on the study plan are provided on the course website or are available for free at Time will be spent reviewing the over 30 instructional videos I created as well as practicing problems daily. There are also automated quizzes that serve as checkpoints during the course. By the end of the course students will be familiar with the testing format and will have reviewed the fundamental concepts in Algebra 1, Algebra II, geometry, and trigonometry.

For complete details or to register for the summer 2017 session click here.

Learning How To Learn: Barbara Oakley at TEDx

Barbara Oakley is a top educational researcher and a professor of engineering. But she wasn’t always a math person. Originally interested primarily in languages and cultures, she made a career change at age 26 (reminds me of myself…I pivoted from French to mathematics when I started college). In this video she explains what she learned about her brains through that process.

The video is a great resource for parents or homeschool students. Learning how we learn makes us all better students.

Common Math Pitfalls: Negative Numbers

The minute negative numbers show up in a math problem things get confusing fast. I started every school year with a quick review of negative numbers because they would trip up even my 11th graders. A student would solve a complex quadratic equation and then get the whole thing wrong because they didn’t correctly calculate .

So here are some tips on how to handle negatives:

    1. When your child is first learning about negative numbers or reviewing them don’t be afraid to slow down. Take two days on that section or add in some reinforcement from Khan Academy.
    2. Make sure they understand the concept and aren’t just memorizing a saying. Lots of students will tell me “a negative and a negative makes a positive.” That is not true. That would mean

Instead a negative number multiplied by a negative number gives you a positive product. To correctly solve the problem above it can be helpful to use a number line or different colored chips.

3. Practice, practice, practice. In my last post I talked about the importance of memorizing math facts. That includes facts about negative numbers. So incorporate those into your flash cards or mad math minutes.

These tips and a little extra effort and time will save your student from so much frustration down the road.


Rock, Paper, Scissors! How math can help you win

Before watching this video play a few games of rock, paper, scissors with a friend or sibling. Make a note of how many times you won.

Now watch the video.

In the video they use game theory to help you make better choices. Find an opponent who didn’t watch the video and try rock, paper, scissors again. Any improvement?

Why study math in the first place?

Most of us start learning about math feeling like this.

why learn math 1

It is fun and easy most of the time. We enjoy the patterns and the thrill of getting a problem right. Then we delve into algebra or pre-algebra and we start to feel more like this.

why learn math 2

We might be the taller person in the picture above who feels more capable than other students—the concepts make sense and we enjoy problem solving, and we’re thankful for something that is a little more challenging and interesting. Or we might feel like the smaller person in the picture— overwhelmed by the mountain of mathematics and distracted by the superior math skills of others.

But it is only a matter of time until everyone realizes that a more accurate picture looks like this.

why learn math 3

Eventually we all encounter a field of mathematics that challenges us. Some of us face our limitations in high school and others of us do not until college or graduate school. But unless we are Sir Isaac Newton (one of the inventors of calculus) at some point, we all feel frustrated and inadequate in the face of mathematics.

And we’ll be stuck there—limited by the finite abilities of our minds and exasperated by the difficulty of mathematics until we each realize that the true picture actually looks like this:

why learn math 4

We run into our own limitations when we study mathematics because we are finite creatures trying to understand a world created by an infinite God (Psalm 139:6). We will all have moments when we do not understand or when we forget steps and make errors in our calculations. That is to be expected. Mathematics is not about checking off a course requirement or putting something impressive on our high school transcript. It is a way of better understanding the universe around us; a universe that is created by an omnipotent and omniscient Creator (Colossians 1:16–17).

In fact, even mathematics is limited in its ability to interpret and predict the universe. In many fields of mathematics what we do know is far surpassed by what we do not yet understand. This is because a wise and eternal Being created our world. We should not be surprised then to feel frequently baffled by the world’s complexities.

When we have this correct perspective, it allows us to enjoy the study of mathematics. Understanding mathematics helps us better understand the character of God and equips us to explore His universe (Romans 1:19–20). The equations, graphs, and formulas in this book lay the foundation for engineering, computer science, and other fields that help us measure and comprehend the universe. They are the first stepping stones on a path that allow us to better understand the world God created each day.

As we study mathematics we will encounter order, truth and beauty—traits of this universe that point to the character of its Creator. And that is why we should study mathematics, not so we can fulfill a requirement or create a new scientific invention. We learn mathematics because it is an opportunity to worship God with our minds as we seek to know and understand Him better.

Math March Madness by Mathalicious

basketball for march madness

Photo credit

I dare you to say the title of this blog post 5 times fast 🙂 Mathalicious is sharing a free math lesson on probability based on the basketball tournament. It looks like so much fun you should definitely check it out.

They also offer this great student handout that walks you through the lesson. This would be a great idea for a co-op. Have all of the students fill out a bracket too just to get them engaged.


Scalped!: A lesson by Mathalicious



When you buy a concert ticket, how much are you really paying to get into the show, and where does all the rest of your money go? From service fees, to delivery fees, to convenience fees, companies such as Ticketmaster have a dramatic effect on the price of a ticket. And then there are the scalpers…

In this lesson, students use percents to examine how the revenue from ticket purchases is distributed among the various players in the concert game, from artists and venues to distributors and middlemen. Think the face value is how much the ticket costs? Think again.

The above is the opening to a lesson published by Mathalicious. This lesson is one of the free ones, you can also pay a subscription to have access to their entire library. The Scalped! lesson includes video and audio clips about buying concert tickets. It also walks students through calculating percentages. Lots of math and lots of interesting information about the fees involved in concerts.