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Room to Grow - a Math Podcast

Education Podcasts

Room to Grow is the math podcast that brings you discussions on trending topics in math education in short segments. We’re not here to talk at people. We’re here to think and learn with others — because when it comes to mathematics there’s always room to grow!

Room to Grow is the math podcast that brings you discussions on trending topics in math education in short segments. We’re not here to talk at people. We’re here to think and learn with others — because when it comes to mathematics there’s always room to grow!


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Room to Grow is the math podcast that brings you discussions on trending topics in math education in short segments. We’re not here to talk at people. We’re here to think and learn with others — because when it comes to mathematics there’s always room to grow!




Uncovering Assumptions in Math Instruction

In this episode of Room to Grow, Curtis and Joanie consider assumptions that we make during math instruction and how these have the potential to interfere with students’ understanding of the mathematics. Teachers know more math than their students, and as a teacher, it can sometimes be a challenge to remember what it was like before we knew and understood a math concept. This can lead us to inadvertently assuming that students are following our thinking or considering external knowledge that...


Celebrating Learning with Self-Reflection

As we approach the end of the school year, this episode of Room to Grow addresses using self-reflection to celebrate the learning of the year. Our hosts use this definition: “Self-Reflection is the evaluation or judgement of one’s performance and the identification of one’s strengths and weaknesses with a view to improving one’s learning outcomes (Damore, 2017),” and start with unpacking this quote from John Dewey: “We don’t learn from experiences, we learn from reflecting on our...


Giving Meaningful Feedback

In this episode, we discuss considerations for providing meaningful feedback to our students. We think this is a great follow-up to our last episode on grading! In preparing for our discussion, we learned about the research supporting effective feedback for learning, which includes suggestions around the type of feedback to give, when to give it, and how meaningful feedback is separate from grading. Our research articles suggest that feedback is not advice or criticism, but information that...


What’s in a Grade?

In this episode, we discuss grades in mathematics courses. Although we don’t claim to have a recommendation or even an opinion about what might be the right way to handle grades, we hope to bring up considerations for our listeners to talk about and think through as they reflect on their own grading practices. We wonder if many grading practices are in place are just legacy practices, handed down and sustained by teacher teams and departments, or schools with prescribed grading...


Supporting Curious Students

In this episode, we build on our previous conversation about fostering curiosity in our students by focusing on the role of math teachers in encouraging students to be curious and creative in math class. With full awareness that we are teaching and influencing students who will leave our classrooms and schools to go contribute to the world, and that we are preparing our students for jobs that don't exist now, we acknowledge how important it is to attend to a culture of curiosity and...


Curiosity and Exploration - Passing the Legacy to Our Students

In the first episode of Season 2, Curtis and Joanie discuss one of Curtis' favorite ideas - fostering curiosity and exploration in the math classroom. It's a common idea that math teachers can support students in "exploring the world through math," but in this episode we think about turning that phrase on its head and wondering how we can "explore mathematics through the world?" With this goal in mind, educators could provide experiences where they are asking the questions that drive their...


Balancing Conceptual Understanding and Procedural Fluency

In this episode, Joanie and Curtis consider the balance between conceptual understanding and procedural fluency in mathematics teaching and learning. Acknowledging that this idea is like a pendulum that has swung back and forth over several decades, they unpack the meanings of these terms and discuss the impact and implications on student learning. They use the 2001 publication Adding It Up to describe how conceptual understanding and procedural fluency come together with three other ideas...


Addressing Math Anxiety with Robert Ahdoot - Part 2

In this episode, Joanie and Curtis continue their conversation with Robert Ahdoot, founder of Yay! Math. We continue the conversation from Episode 9, digging into how teachers can address students’ math anxiety. We discuss the idea that teaching could be considered a service profession, and how that perspective can support teachers in building trust with their students. Robert shares a powerful story of a discipline issue in his classroom, and how approaching the situation with the humanness...


Addressing Math Anxiety with Robert Ahdoot - Part 1

Joanie and Curtis host their first guest on this episode of Room to Grow. Robert Ahdoot taught high school math and found his strength in connecting with and engaging students, leveraging his enthusiasm and creativity to build strong relationships with students. He found that his humor, compassion, and excitement for mathematics content helped students overcome their anxiety about and struggles with learning math. Robert brings a contemplative and self-reflective spirit to our conversation,...


Reframing Learning Loss

In this episode of Room to Grow, Joanie and Curtis discuss the challenge of pandemic “learning loss” and provide ideas for math teachers to reframe this concept. They speak about the potential negative impacts of deficit language as students return to classrooms across the country, and emphasize the importance of creating a positive classroom culture for learning, grounded in beliefs that all students can and will be successful. Acknowledging that educators are facing significant...


Creating a Classroom Environment Fertile for Learning

The article referred to in the podcast for building back better can be found here: Restart and Reinvent report: Effortful Thinking:...


How Beliefs Impact Achievement

How does what we believe as teachers impact our students and their learning? What about their beliefs about themselves as learners and doers of mathematics? In this episode of Room to Grow, Curtis and Joanie explore these ideas and more from the perspective of continuous improvement and growing awareness as educators. They share stories from their own experiences where naming a fundamental belief about teaching and learning mathematics provides a powerful reminder of habits, actions, or...


Helping Students Struggle Productively

Productive Struggle is a key component of students’ mathematical learning. But struggle can shift from “productive” to “unproductive” at different rates and for different reasons for different students (and teachers!). Ensuring that students engage in productive struggle is complex, nuanced, and dependent on a healthy classroom culture and strong teacher-student relationships. In this episode, Curtis and Joanie explore what productive struggle looks like and how to recognize when a...


Mathematical Representations

In this episode of Room to Grow, our hosts discuss the importance of mathematical representations for students' deep learning of mathematics. The five representations described in NCTM's Principles to Actions include Physical, Visual, Symbolic, Verbal, and Contextual. Research shows that attending to and making connections between these multiple representations. National Research Council (2001), "Because of the abstract nature of mathematics, people have access to mathematical ideas only...


Mathematical Exploration

In this episode of Room to Grow, Curtis and Joanie dive into ideas around exploration and play in mathematics. Although this may seem frivolous and not a priority for time-constrained math educators, our hosts discuss the positive implications on student learning, mindsets, and engagement in the mathematics. By framing an activity as “exploration,” the stress many students carry around learning math can dissipate, opening their minds to better understanding and enjoyment, and allowing them...


Ensuring Every Student is Learning

One of the biggest challenges math teachers face is the variety of mathematical backgrounds students bring with them to math class. Although state standards describe what students should know and be able to do at the end of the grade, more often than not, students move to the next grade or course with an incomplete mastery of pre-requisite content. In this episode of Room to Grow, Curtis and Joanie suggest that we reframe this reality: instead of thinking this is a problem to be solved,...


Making Modeling Accessible

Mathematical modeling is a cornerstone of students’ K-12 mathematics learning experiences. In their debut episode, your Room to Grow hosts discuss ideas for including more mathematical modeling in your classroom. Joanie and Curtis start by acknowledging that the term “modeling” conjures up many ideas for educators and for students, and define their non-negotiable characteristics of mathematical modeling. They suggest the differentiators include that students must have the opportunity to...