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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What Teachers Need from Districts During the Pandemic

Published: Friday, December 4, 2020

Teaching during this pandemic has been an incredible challenge. The unfamiliarity and isolation of our situation has often made me feel like a first-year teacher. Over the past few months, my colleague Larisa Bukalov and I discovered many ways to improve our remote instruction. At the same time, we've also discovered limitations to our work that can best be addressed with help from school districts and educational policymakers. In an article we wrote for Education Week, we describe four aspects of remote learning where we have made progress but need additional support to make it more successful - guidance, consistency, compassion, and cooperation.

Here is the link to the full article:

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Math Instruction in Times of Crisis

Published: Friday, May 8, 2020

Nowadays, teachers have had to make major changes in our instruction. My colleague Larisa Bukalov and I just wrote an article that summarizes several of the strategies that we've found to be successful (and some that are not!), including four core principles of math instruction (such as students need to feel safe before they can learn and all students deserve access to rigorous math), suggestions for assessment and grading, and ideas for caring for ourselves and for others.

The articles are now available on Larry Ferlazzo's Classrom Q&A blog, published on the Education Week website at and 

We elaborate on many of these ideas in our new book The Math Teacher's Toolbox, which was just released by Jossey-Bass. You can see excerpts from the book on both the Amazon ( and the Wiley Publishing ( websites.

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