Using Math for Project-Based Learning

Published: Tuesday, April 6, 2021

In an article for Education Week that came out today, my colleague Larisa Bukalov and I wrote how we use project-based learning in our math classes. As math teachers ourselves, we know firsthand the pressure we face to teach the many procedural skills that are emphasized in local and state standards. Many math teachers believe they don’t have time to incorporate projects. They also feel that projects are better suited for social studies or science. We think of project-based learning as a way for students to learn how to make connections and solve problems – skills that are usually emphasized in a math class. In this article, we also discuss the importance of asking open-ended questions and ways that technology can be used to ask them. 

The article is adapted from our chapter on project-based learning in The Math Teacher's Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students (Jossey-Bass, 2020). The complete text of the article is here: .

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Using Online Whiteboards for High School Math

Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Imagine if you could ask a question in class and immediately get a response from every student. Understanding what students are thinking is one of the greatest challenges for experienced math teachers. In an article for Edutopia, my co-author Larisa Bukalov and I discuss ways that we can better grasp a student’s thought process in math class by using online whiteboards — web-based tools that enable students to write or type content that teachers can instantly see and share. We are particularly fond of Desmos because it allows students to create and manipulate animations. 

Even when we resume teaching in person, we plan to continue using them. Online whiteboards can reduce the need to make copies, cut out cards, and prepare other handouts. Being able to see all students’ work simultaneously helps us quickly identify who’s struggling so that we can walk over to help them.

The full article is here:

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Using Group Work to Make Online Math Instruction More Engaging and Manageable

Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Students learn best when they can collaborate, but the pandemic initially restricted our ability to implement traditional group work. In an article that Math for America Master Larisa Bukalov and I wrote for Edutopia (published today), we describe a simple cooperative learning strategy for our online teaching. This strategy not only makes our workload more manageable — since we’re checking work for each group instead of for each individual — but also encourages students to interact with others and take a more active role in their learning. Our strategy is based on ideas about cooperative learning that we discussed in our book The Math Teacher's Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students (Jossey-Bass, 2020).

Here is a link to our article:

and our book:

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Review of "The Math Teacher's Toolbox"

Published: Thursday, January 7, 2021

MiddleWeb just published a review of The Math Teacher's Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students (Jossey-Bass, 2020), which I co-authored with Math for America Master Teacher Larisa Bukalov. Here is an excerpt of the review (link to the review appears below):

"After repeated negative experiences in math, many people develop math anxiety, which can then be passed on to the next generation of students by their parents or their teachers (pg. 1).

"In this volume, part of the Toolbox series edited by Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Sypnieski (following The ELL Teacher’s Toolbox), Bobson Wong and Larisa Bukalov set out to help people not only overcome their math anxiety, but appreciate math and use it in the real world by equipping their teachers with, as the title indicates, hundreds of tools for their toolbox.


"The wide variety of topics, vital to both a strong learning environment and specifically to building math learners, critical thinkers and problem solvers, are addressed in this extensive reference. Drawing on both tried and true strategies and resources and the newest trends in education, Wong and Bukalov provide a very real classroom approach and perspective to every area of teaching math.

For instance, in their chapter on culturally responsive teaching they discuss strategies to move from being “color (culture) blind” – the idea that all students are the same – to the realization that this approach devalues all cultures. They provide strategies and tools to incorporate and honor the variety of cultures in our classrooms.


"This book should be part of new teacher training for all math teachers and will be a welcome resource in any math teacher’s professional library."

The full review is available at: .

The Math Teacher's Toolbox is available at .

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A Culturally Responsive Approach to Students' Math Anxiety

Published: Friday, December 18, 2020

Larisa Bukalov and I wrote an article for Education Week outlining culturally responsive techniques to deal with students' math anxiety. In this article, which incorporates many of the ideas that we discuss more deeply in our book The Math Teacher's Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students, Larisa and I discuss the importance of building relationships with students, promoting mathematical communication, making mathematical connections, and connecting to students prior experiences. We believe that teachers should constantly reflect on their practices to find ways that students' culture, like other aspectsof their personality, can be used to strnegthen learning.

Our article was part of a number of articles about teaching math in a culturally responsive way. Other responses were written by people like Robert Q. Berry III, Past President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The artices are part of Larry Ferlazzo's Classroom Q&A blog. 

Our article can be viewed here:

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