17 episodes

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!

We’re former educators and we make it no secret how much we love math. Tune in for our conversations centered on all the ways that make it possible to enrich the entire learning experience for both teachers and students, ranging from specific topics like mathematical modeling to general ideas about student engagement. Every episode of this math ed podcast offers something new.

When we come together to talk through our ideas and the different teaching methods being used today — whether in the classroom or at home — it gives everyone a chance to expand their knowledge. We invite you to listen in with colleagues and friends so you can keep the conversations going, and keep on learning.

Meet your hosts: Curtis Brown and Joanie Funderburk
Curtis Brown leads numerous content development projects including the Families of Functions video series from Texas Instruments. Curtis also taught mathematics and Statistics for years, and he served as Statistics Specialist at the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) and Mathematics Coordinator at LTF. There’s a joy in exploring all the patterns and logic that can be found in mathematics, and Curtis is eager to jump into each podcast episode with new, interesting takes on the day’s topics.

Joanie Funderburk serves as Texas Instruments’ Strategic Alliance Director, advocating for high-quality STEM education and elevating the voice of educators in state- and national-level policy decisions. Joanie’s previous experiences, from teaching math for nearly 20 years to her roles as the Director of Facilitators at Illustrative Mathematics, and Manager of Professional Learning at Student Achievement Partners, have allowed her to learn from teachers across the country. Joanie pours her enthusiasm for math into this podcast with a belief that continuous learning benefits everyone.

Room to Grow - a Math Podcast Room to Grow Math

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 8 Ratings

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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!

We’re former educators and we make it no secret how much we love math. Tune in for our conversations centered on all the ways that make it possible to enrich the entire learning experience for both teachers and students, ranging from specific topics like mathematical modeling to general ideas about student engagement. Every episode of this math ed podcast offers something new.

When we come together to talk through our ideas and the different teaching methods being used today — whether in the classroom or at home — it gives everyone a chance to expand their knowledge. We invite you to listen in with colleagues and friends so you can keep the conversations going, and keep on learning.

Meet your hosts: Curtis Brown and Joanie Funderburk
Curtis Brown leads numerous content development projects including the Families of Functions video series from Texas Instruments. Curtis also taught mathematics and Statistics for years, and he served as Statistics Specialist at the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) and Mathematics Coordinator at LTF. There’s a joy in exploring all the patterns and logic that can be found in mathematics, and Curtis is eager to jump into each podcast episode with new, interesting takes on the day’s topics.

Joanie Funderburk serves as Texas Instruments’ Strategic Alliance Director, advocating for high-quality STEM education and elevating the voice of educators in state- and national-level policy decisions. Joanie’s previous experiences, from teaching math for nearly 20 years to her roles as the Director of Facilitators at Illustrative Mathematics, and Manager of Professional Learning at Student Achievement Partners, have allowed her to learn from teachers across the country. Joanie pours her enthusiasm for math into this podcast with a belief that continuous learning benefits everyone.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires macOS 11.4 or higher

    Uncovering Assumptions in Math Instruction

    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 they actually might not yet have access to!
    Our hosts get into some math content, specifically talking about the equals sign, solving systems of equations, and the standard algorithm for multiplication. In each of these examples, the common structures of instruction can lead students to an incorrect or incomplete understanding, or can force a focus on procedures without the concepts that back up these ways to doing. Curtis and Joanie had some personal “ah ha” moments during the episode as we discussed these math topics. 
    Frequent listeners know that Joanie and Curtis don’t claim to have silver bullet solutions, but they suggest that slowing down when planning and teaching, regularly collaborating with other teachers, and stopping to identify assumptions can all contribute to better teaching and learning. Listen to hear more about why Joanie recommends teaching “for big circles, and not pinpricks.”
    We encourage you to explore these resources, mentioned and referenced in this episode:
    Teaching Children Mathematics article (subscription required) The Equals Sign: A Balancing ActElementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally by John van de WallePresentation of From Student-Invented Strategies to Standard Algorithms: What’s the Rush by Fran HuntoonDiscussion about teaching algorithms on myNCTM (membership required)Did you enjoy this episode of Room to Grow? Please leave a review and share the episode with others. Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy. 

    • 34 min
    Celebrating Learning with Self-Reflection

    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 experiences.” 

    In the conversation, Curtis and Joanie suggest that reflecting at the end of a lesson, unit, month or school year provides the opportunity to be energized by and to benefit from what we’ve experienced and how we use that learning to continue to improve.
    After making the case for self-reflection, the discussion shifts to specific ideas for student and teacher self-reflection. Ensuring that students understand the purpose of self-reflection is integral to making the process meaningful for students, and increases the likelihood that their reflective practices will contribute positively to owning their own learning, and to building positive mathematical identities. Some specific reflection questions and protocols are discussed, giving you ideas you can apply in your own setting as we all wrap up the 2021-22 school year. 
    We encourage you to explore these resources, mentioned and referenced in this episode:
    Dewey quote and Damore’s definition of Self-Reflection came from this post: Routines for Self-Reflection: https://thinkingpathwayz.weebly.com/routinesselfreflection.html Journal of Practitioner Research article on reflection as a tool for continuous improvement: https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1044&context=jprEdutopia article with specific ideas for engaging students in self-reflection: www.edutopia.org/article/frameworks-reflection   Tuning protocol as a way for groups of teachers to reflect specifically on student work: http://essentialschools.org/horace-issues/the-tuning-protocol-a-process-for-reflection-on-teacher-and-student-work/ Teachers and Change: The Role of Reflective Practice: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042812039870 Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy. 

    • 28 min
    Giving Meaningful Feedback

    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 helps the receive to understand their next actions. Although it makes sense that students must engage with feedback in order for it to be meaningful, we were intrigued by the suggestion that the receiver of feedback should work harder as a result of the feedback than the giver of the feedback! In other words, our students should work harder than us, their teachers! 
    We explore some concrete ideas for making your feedback more meaningful, reflect on our own mistakes around providing feedback, and emphasize the fact that in all aspects of a teachers work, relationships matter most. 
    We encourage you to explore these resources, mentioned and referenced in this episode:
    Blog post from Edutopia. The five suggestions here are backed by research. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/tips-providing-students-meaningful-feedback-marianne-stengerArticle from the South Carolina Center for Teaching Excellence. This resource is general for all content areas, is a quick read, and includes a list of specific ideas for effective and efficient feedback. https://sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/cte/teaching_resources/grading_assessment_toolbox/providing_meaningful_student_feedback/index.php Article from ASCD (free if you haven’t already accessed your limit of free articles). Grant Wiggins authors this article that Curtis and Joanie refer to multiple times during this episode.  https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/seven-keys-to-effective-feedbackArticle/research summary from the Tang Institute. Although this resource appears longer than the others, the summaries and graphics make it very readable. This would be a great resource for a PLC or professional learning setting.  https://tanginstitute.andover.edu/files/Feedback-in-Practice.pdfShare your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com . Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy. 

    • 32 min
    What’s in a Grade?

    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 requirements, and we recognize the challenges of balancing grades with academic performance as well as other classroom contributions that we value.

    We wrestle with what grades communicate to different audiences. What does a grade tell a student? The student’s family? Other school personnel? The student’s next school? How does a student’s participation in the academic work of math class shift based on the value they put on their grade in math class? And we consider the guiding question of “what is the impact of…?” as educators consider the structure and components of their grading practice.

    We wrap up by reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on our educator friends. We believe that the last two years have brought incredible challenges to educators already giving everything they have to their students and communities. We are in awe of you, we admire you, and we thank you for all that you do each and every day. 
    Additional resources to explore:
    Blog Post: “Grading Is Due for an Overhaul” https://www.nais.org/magazine/independent-school/winter-2022/grading-is-due-for-an-overhaul/ Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com . Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy

    • 30 min
    Supporting Curious Students

    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 creativity in math classrooms. We talk about the importance of fostering intrinsic motivation so that a passion for learning follows them into their lives beyond school.
    We wrestle with the challenge of wanting to provide structure and efficiencies in ways that can sometimes unknowingly stifle students' creative freedoms. We acknowledge that in our desire to make learning meaningful and impactful, we can inadvertently provide too much structure or control, stealing students' "lightbulb" moments in their learning journey. We know that no teacher creates classroom practices that detract from learning, and that there are appropriate times and situations where more structure and more directed learning is the best way for students to learn. But we also challenge that a teacher should always be the sole source of knowledge and learning in the classroom. We also recognize that teachers' tendency to control the classroom is based in a feeling of responsibility for students' learning. We suggest that fostering creativity and curiosity allows students to take more responsibility for their own learning, which can be freeing for us as educators.
    We wrap up by sharing some practical ideas for fostering curiosity and creativity. We know that this will look different in every classroom and would love for you, our listener, to share how you do this in your setting! 
    Additional resources to explore:
    ·       Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk Do Schools Kills Creativity? https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_do_schools_kill_creativity?language=en
    ·       Daniel Pink’s Drive – Book: https://www.amazon.com/Drive-Surprising-Truth-About-Motivates/dp/1594484805; RSA Animation summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc
    ·       Peter Liljedahl’s Building a Thinking Classroom in Mathematics – https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/building-thinking-classrooms-in-mathematics-grades-k-12/book268862 
    ·       Creativity by asking questions: https://www.creativityatwork.com/teaching-for-creativity-asking-questions/ (100 questions activity)
    ·       Ways to develop creativity in our students: https://www.edutopia.org/article/4-ways-develop-creativity-students
    ·       NCTM article - Graphing Portfolios in Calculus: Reinforcing Concepts and Inviting Creativity: https://pubs.nctm.org/view/journals/mt/98/6/article-p404.xml?tab_body=pdf (Members only access)
    Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com . Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy. 

    • 33 min
    Curiosity and Exploration - Passing the Legacy to Our Students

    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 learning. 
    Creating these experiences for students requires intentional teacher planning, and doesn't mean that we allow the learning to be a free-for-all! Teachers will need to find balance between providing the structure required to keep the learning focused, while allowing students the freedom to explore, question, and engage in the learning. And since math classrooms are already packed with content, we discuss how to find the time to include curiosity as part of the learning experience.  We hope these ideas help you to pass along a legacy of curiosity to your students!
    Resources to explore:
    To help identify the big mathematical ideas for your course or grade level, check out the Focus By Grade Level documents from Achieve the Core: https://achievethecore.org/category/774/mathematics-focus-by-grade-levelFor more practical steps on developing student curiosity in your math classroom, check out this blog post from David Wees: https://davidwees.com/content/how-do-you-help-develop-mathematical-curiosity/Read about the brain research that supports the importance of curiosity in education: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-curiosity-enhances-learning-marianne-stengerShare your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing roomtogrowmath@gmail.com. Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy. 

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

math_count ,

Reflective and Inspiring

I love listening to the thought processes and experiences of Curtis and Joanie. The topics are timely and relatable to the classroom.

alison_pruett ,

Great for math educators

I love listening to Curtis and Joanie! They feel like my friends/colleagues just having a discussion about math education.

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