Strategies for Math Students with Irlen Syndrome

This is the third video in our series honoring Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week.  At last year’s CAMT conference Marge Harris shared strategies she has successfully used to help math intervention students with Irlen Syndrome.

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Irlen Syndrome and Math Symptoms

This is the second in our series of posts on math intervention students with Irlen Syndrome.  In this video clip Marge Harris, Irlen screener and Math Interventionist, explains how to tell which math students may be affected by Irlen Syndrome.

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Identifying Irlen Syndrome in math students

October 20-24 is Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week.  Many of the students who struggle in math may have Irlen Syndrome.

Marge Harris is a math intervention teacher at St. Piux X High School in Houston and an Irlen Syndrome screener.  She is extremely knowledgeable of the effects of Irlen Syndrome on math intervention students and how to best help them.  She addressed a group at CAMT (Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching) on this very subject.  Throughout the week we will share video clips from this presentation.

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CBS News features ChalleNGe Academy Schools

You may have seen one of the recent stories on the CBS Evening News showing high school dropouts getting back on track.  The news series follows the Youth ChalleNGe Academy Program run by the National Guard.

We are very familiar with this wonderful program and its success.  Texas ChalleNGe Academy in Iraan-Sheffield, Texas has been an Ascend Math Gold Medalist School. The math results they’ve achieved with high school dropouts and students in danger of dropping out is nothing short of sensational.  In just three months, under their program all their students using Ascend Math gained a full grade level of math or more with 19% gaining two or more years’ grade level growth. Their Principal, Candra Cade is an active member of the Ascend Math Advisory Council.  See more on the Ascend Math Results page, under Alternative Schools.


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Consider Nominating Someone for CEC Special Ed Awards!

CECDo you know a special educator who is making a remarkable difference?  Do you teach exceptional students who are overcoming personal challenges to make great progress in math and reading? Why not nominate them for a CEC Award? Please take a minute to learn more about the CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) Award Programs.

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Arne Duncan Offers Grants to Train Turnaround Leaders

Arne Duncan announced late last week “more than $20 million for 12 new awards from the Turnaround School Leaders Program, under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, to prepare leaders of reform efforts in the nation’s lowest-performing schools.

I wish I had the opportunity to introduce him to Gil Rey Madrid. Principal Madrid is the quintessential example of what it takes to lead a school through the worst of times to the best.  A few years back his middle school did not make AYP in math.  In less than two years, he led the school to the highest math performance of any middle school or junior high in his region of Texas.

I encourage you to listen to a little of Mr. Madrid’s philosophy and strategies.



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On Praising Math Intervention Students

Most math teachers I’ve spoken with agree that struggling students feel they are not smart and they are not good at math. Telling them they are can actually run counter to helping them build a positive attitude.  Learning how to praise a student and how often to praise a student are critical skills that all successful math teachers learn.

A recent article on developing a growth mindset by Savanna Flakes, EdS suggests using praise to reinforce the belief that students can achieve at high levels through hard work and effort. “Focus on highlighting student effort throughout a task,” she advises “not only the final product.”

This is exactly why we spent the last year creating interactivity, including ongoing praise for effort, throughout each Ascend Math video lesson.

To read Dr. Flakes’ excellent article click here

You can view samples of Ascend Math’s interactive video lessons at

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The Math of Autumn Equinox

Today, is the first day of autumn (the autumnal equinox) – the time at which the Earth reaches a point in its orbit known as the equinox, where the sun shines directly on the equator, favoring neither the Northern nor Southern Hemisphere. For just one day, both hemispheres of the Earth experience 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

The great sandstone monoliths at Stonehenge in southern England are said to mark the autumn and spring equinoxes, as well as the summer and winter solstices, the longest and shortest days of the year respectively.

There is lots of math involved here to be shared with students from the geometry of Stonehenge to using trigonometry to calculate daylight hours for any latitude.

Try this math problem with your middle school students:

We all know that the further north we go the less sunlight we get in the winter.  Columbus, Ohio is at 40 north latitude. However, if you were living in Juneau, Alaska you would be at 60 north latitude. On the first day of autumn both receive 12 hours of daylight.  However, on Dec. 16th, the first day of winter, Columbus will receive 9.17 hours of daylight while students in Juneau will receive just 5.56 hours.

Compared to Juneau, how much more daylight will Columbus, Ohio receive on Dec. 16th?  Provide the answer in hours to two decimal places and as a percentage.

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Teachers Share Top Apps for Education

Reposted from NPR

With more students bringing their own devices into the classroom, teachers are finding that apps aren’t just fun — they’re valuable tools to help manage student behaviors, to communicate with parents and to connect learning with social media. In short, they help inform how and what to teach.

Take a look at this short list of top rated education apps compiled by National Public Radio.  Tell us what you use. Leave a comment on our blog.

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Happy Blogversary: Top Ten Blog Posts of the Year!

It was one year ago that we launched the Ascend Math blog. In that time, we’ve provided nearly 100 posts covering important topics like the latest research on BYOD, common core, and math intervention strategies What’s more, we provided teachers and students with fun math problems to solve during the Winter Olympics, March Madness and throughout the summer.  Many of these math problems submitted by classrooms were among the most viewed on this site.

To celebrate our one year anniversary, below are the Top Ten most viewed blog posts of the year:

  1. Ascend Math Announces Gold Medal Awards
  2. Southfield 5th Graders Create Earth Day Math Problems
  3. 8th Graders Outperform International Average in Math
  4. Head to Head Testing of Ascend Math in Sanders USD
  5. Special Education Administrator Shares Strategies for Math Intervention
  6. March Mathness Problems from Northside Elementary
  7. Research: Smaller Classes are not the Solution
  8. ELL Students doing well in Math but may be Hurt by Common Core
  9. District Administration Magazine Names Ascend Math to Top 100 Products for 2013
  10. Helping High School Special Ed Students with Math Skill Gaps




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