Fun Halloween Math Problems

An adult skeleton has 206 bones. There are 27 bones in a hand and 26 bones in a foot. How many bones are not in the hands or feet?

Count Juan Toothree is giving a party at his haunted castle. Throughout the evening guests come and go. 10 guests go in.  2 come out. 12 more go in. 3 come out. 6 go in. 8 come out.  10 more go in. 1 comes out. And just before midnight 2 go in and 8 come out.  How many guests are at the party at midnight?

After scooping out and carving the Jack O Lantern, the class counted 162 pumpkin seeds.  Their teacher roasted the pumpkin seeds for a tasty treat.  She wanted to divide the seeds up evenly among all her students. There were 18 students in the class. How many pumpkin seeds did each student get?

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Creative Elementary Math Intervention Strategies

Kathy Kreidler of Taylor County Elementary just presented to two packed houses at the FCTM (Florida Council of Teacher’s of Mathematics) Conference. Kathy is an extraordinary, innovative educator dedicated to helping her students connect with math. Take a look at this video clip below.  You’ll see how she uses a game show format to engage her students.

Kathy and Taylor County Elementary were the recipients of the Ascend Math Gold Medal for Most Exceptional First Year Implementation.  Taylor County set up a special program for 4th and 5th graders that scored lowest on the state test the previous year. Under Kathy’s guidance and working with Ascend Math all gained in their scale scores and 85% gained one or more grade levels in math.

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Educational Technology: the Good, the Bad, and the Buggy!

A recent article by the Global Digital Citizen Foundation caught my eye.  The article Why We Shouldn’t Fear Technology in the Classroom, didn’t really grab me for the headline but for the “so called” fears they listed. Let me share those with you as well as my thoughts on each:

Time:  Yes, it can take time to learn a new software program and many out there can take far too long time to learn. Good educational technology provides a tremendous time savings that is almost immediate. HINT:  Ask educators who have used the technology program how long it took them to get up and running and if it has saved them time?

Classroom Management:  “When it comes down to class management, the addition of computers can add more stress if handled incorrectly,” or so says the article.  Some technology companies understand better than others how to make the process of setting up the new program seamless. HINT: Ensure that the new technology is engaging and motivating to the students. When students want to use the program classroom management becomes much easier.

Safety Fears:  This simply should not be a fear anymore. All legitimate educational technology companies take great pains to safeguard student information. HINT: Ask to see their privacy policy.

Support and Help:  Unfortunately, I’ve heard from many hard working educators who felt they were left high and dry with a technology program that simply never worked right. HINT: Ask about customer support before bringing in a new technology program. Even better, talk to someone using the program and ask about customer support.

Adequate Training: This goes hand in hand with support.  Yes, all good technology providers offer training.  But how much training is required to become competent at using the program?  This is important for both the educator and the student using the program. This comes right back to the time factor. How complicated does the program seem to be?  HINT: When looking at case histories and results pay attention to the timing. How long did it take the schools to get results?  That’s the best indication of ease of use.

Kevin Briley is CEO of Ascend Education, creators of Ascend Math, intensive math intervention that meets each student at their lowest skill gap and guides each through an individualized study plan, often resulting in 1-2 grade levels of improvement in the first few months.

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Could you be a teacher in the 1880’s?

Could you be a teacher in the 1880’s? The math problem below was used as a test for new teachers at the Quasset school in the 1880’s.

Three boys, A, B, and C went to Putnam (a nearby town) to sell eggs. Boy A had 10 eggs. Boy B had 30 eggs. Boy C had 50 eggs. They each sold their eggs at the same rate and received the same amount of money. How much did they sell their eggs for? The answer is at the end of the article.

PUZZLE SOLUTION Boy A had 10 eggs. Boy B had 30 eggs. Boy C had 50 eggs. To end up with the same amount of money, each boy sold 7 eggs for 5 cents, then sold the remaining individual eggs for 15 cents each — so each boy earned 50 cents. (Multiple solutions to the problem are likely.)

For more about the Quasset school check out:


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Seventh Graders Achieve Outstanding Results on State Test

crosbyState test results for Crosby Middle School in Crosby, TX rose substantially for seventh grade students using Ascend Math® last year. In fact, they saw a 0% to 38% improvement in the pass rate for students with a history of not passing the STAAR (Texas state assessment). Last year, Crosby Middle School educators set up a pilot program using Ascend Math for their struggling seventh grade math students.

Students who did not meet grade level previously were placed in a tier 3 math class. The first six weeks working with Ascend, 60% achieved one or more grade levels in math. Throughout the year, that percentage continued to improve.  Read more about Crosby’s math intervention results.

“We were seeing kids who were coming into the program that were performing at least in part at a third grade level,” said Todd Hicks, Principal at Crosby Middle School.  “They were growing two, three, and even four grade levels by the end” One of the biggest concerns was how these at-risk students would perform on end-of-the-year testing.

Overall, Crosby’s passing rates for seventh graders improved from 68% to 83%. This included the at-risk students working with Ascend Math and those outside of the program. Statewide, seventh graders improved passing rates from 67% to 72% according to TEA.

“The students that we originally picked for the pilot program had been unsuccessful on the Texas STAAR test for at least the past two years,” reports Principal Hicks. Overall, our Ascend Pilot classes had 38% of the students pass the seventh grade math STAAR this year.  We are very pleased with the scores”

Crosby Middle School is one of three recipients of the 2015 Ascend Math Gold Medal. The Gold Medal Award was established in 2010 to honor the schools or districts that best demonstrate a dedication to ensuring that all students become successful at math. A Gold Medal celebration will be held in Crosby Middle School’s honor at Estância Churrascaria in Austin, TX at 12:00 pm on Monday, October 26. Parties interested in attending should contact Renata Palms at Ascend Education 318-865-8232.

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Groundbreaking study released: Which Math Skills Are Students Missing

Ascend Education announced today the release of a new study showing the frequency of math skill gaps found in U.S. students.

Which math skill gaps are most common to students in a particular grade? What percentage of students identified for intervention have skill gaps two grade levels below their current grade? How many at three grade levels or more?   A new report released by Ascend Education attempts to answer these and other pertinent questions regarding students in need of math intervention.

The study, “Which Math Skills are Students Missing?” includes data from more than 18,000 U.S. students nationwide identified for math intervention. All students were given a level recommendation test to assess their functional grade level. Each student was provided a series of pre-assessments on objectives beginning at their functional grade level according to the level placement test. Each student’s individual math skill gaps were identified, captured and compiled along with the others.

“The study shows it is not unusual for 80% or more of students to share a few skill gaps but following that, the distribution of gaps becomes far more dispersed.” said Kevin Briley, CEO of Ascend Education. “Rarely, do students share the same exact set of math skill gaps. Consequently, teachers are hard pressed to teach to the individual skill gaps without the help of technology.”

The study provides a ranking of the most common skill gaps exhibited by intervention students working at a specific grade level. It also lists these skill gaps within the proper scope and sequence.

“This study can be helpful to educators wanting to know which skill gaps can best be taught in small groups,” added Briley. “However, it also strongly supports the need for individualized instruction and study for each student identified for math intervention.”

To learn more, read the white paper:  Which Math Skills Are Students Missing?

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Do the Labor Day Math to see that more school pays!

Share these math problems with your math class this Labor Day week. The facts below come by way of the Economic Policy Institute through Forbes.

$28,659: Median annual earning of a U.S. worker at least 25-years of age with a high school degree.

$49,648: Median annual earning of a U.S. worker at least 25-years of age with a bachelor’s degree.

$60,709: Median annual earning of a U.S. worker at least 25-years of age with a master’s degree.

On average, how much more per year are workers 25 years of age or older with bachelor’s degrees receiving than those with just a high school degree? How much more are those with master’s degrees earning than those with just a high school degree?

What is the percent increase in earnings from a high-school degree to a bachelor’s degree and from a high school degree to a master’s degree?

Do you or your students have an idea for a Labor Day Math Problem?  Just add it as a comment.

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Intensive Intervention Pays Off for ELL Students

Congratulations to the students and educators at Carlin Springs Elementary, a largely Hispanic school with a high ELL population. Their third-grade students had a pass rate on the state’s standardized math test of 95 percent, a gain of 47 percentage points from two years ago.

Their remarkable efforts remind me very much of another school with an 80% Hispanic population in west Texas. Fort Stockton Middle school did not make AYP in math. They had tried several strategies but could not break the pattern of failure. Principal Gil-Rey Madrid had had enough. He started an intensive math intervention program mid-way through the school year. The students responded and test results went up. The following year, he focused even more heavily on what brought them success. The payoff was worth it. Fort Stockton Middle School was recognized for the highest math performance among middle schools and junior high schools in their region. The use of Ascend Math was a focal point in their intensive math strategy.

Watch the video.

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Technology that works for Special Ed Students has side benefits

A recent article in Education Dive explores ways in which technology can make invisible the help that special education students receive compared to their general ed counterparts.

“There’s some anecdotal evidence that the technology itself, with its multimedia presentation and interactivity, may also make it easier for students with disabilities like autism to digest material…And increasingly, assistive technology tools that allow students to read larger text if they have a vision impairment or absorb material at a different level is available on the same devices other students would be using: iPads, laptops and phones. Rather than an obvious gadget for a disabled student marking them as different, every student would be using a device. A teacher would be able to provide support invisibly, through a student’s device, without drawing attention to the student’s disability.”

How Tech Driven Learning Can Benefit Students with Disabilities

We see this every day with Ascend Math, our intensive online math intervention program. special ed and gen ed students working side by side both benefitting from the same online interactive technology.

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Study Shows Wide Disparity in Student Intervention Needs

Soon, Ascend Education will release a study revealing the math skill gaps most prominent among students in need of intervention. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time this kind of important data will be made available publicly. The study will include data from more than 18,000 students identified for math intervention.  Today, I want to give you a sneak peek at one of the key findings.

All students in the study were given a level recommendation test to assess their functional grade level.

7th grade math skill gapsLook at the findings for those students in grade 7 who were below grade level in math.  Nearly one out of four students had skill gaps two grade levels below their current grade.  Another 26% had skill gaps three grade levels below the seventh, 26% had gaps four grade levels below, and an astounding 19% of students had skill gaps five grade levels below their current grade.

The other grades studied look similar. There is a clear pattern here.  How can a teacher, no matter how dedicated and brilliant, attend to students with needs this widespread?

Please keep watching this blog for updates on this critical study.

Ascend Math is an intensive math intervention program that reaches down to the student’s lowest skill gap and provides a truly individual study plan unique to each student.



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