Recipe For Math Wizardry

“What is the point of trying?” “I just don’t get Math!” “I don’t do Math!” “I am not a Math person.” “Can I work on something else instead?”  These are all comments that frequently come out of HS students’ mouths who have not yet had their mind spell broken to conceptualize Math in a comprehensible manner.  So how does one break that spell?  Read on and you will find the Spell Breaker Recipe….

Spell Breaker Recipe for Learning Math


One student’s brain which has closed off to Math

One teacher’s willingness to discover the turn-on switch

Simple Math Fluency and Math Computations skill sheets

Topic being studied in class with independent assignment

A pinch of willingness

1 cup of humor

          ½ cup spell breaking chemicals


Step 1:  Sit down with student and find out what they know how to do.  Work together Math problems that involve Math Computation and Math Fluency skills related to topic.  It is very important at this stage to talk with the student about ways that you find yourself vulnerable when approaching difficult tasks to hook them in on taking risks.

Step 2:  Once the teacher has a general idea of what basic skills may be causing difficulty, the teacher differentiates independent assignment with scaffolds and supports in place so that student has a chance to get to the answer.

Step 3:  Present student with one math problem of the new independent task and a cup of water with the spell breaking chemical.  Watch them work through the task and be successful

Step 4:  Take in the smile that comes across their face once they have figured it out.

Step 5: Congratulate them.

Step 6:  Give them another problem that is slightly more difficult on the independent assignment and encourage them to try. Add some more spell breaking chemicals in their cup.  

Step 7:  Work with them if necessary to assist them with figuring it out

Step 8:  Listen to them say, “I got it!”  “This wasn’t so hard.”  

Hear the new chorus in the room of “This is the best Math class ever!!”


5 thoughts on “Recipe For Math Wizardry

      1. Honestly, I like that you are being honest and the analogy with a recipe makes more real. Comparing teaching with a recipe, give us room for making mistakes and knowing that we might not be getting it right the first time. Most of the time, we think that there is a cookie cutter for teaching and learning. Well, recipes are not always perfect (except your blueberry bars). We might not have the right ingredients, as well as teachers might not find the resources. I will continue using this analogy with my students! Thank you!


  1. Those bluberry bars are wickedly tasty. When I was 10- 11 yrs old my mother told me that if I could read I could cook. After burning the sugar on the bottom of the pan, scorching potatoes and burning off my eyebrows and bangs, I did learn how to cook. All recipes leave certain things to interpretation and experience. No two people make the same tasting dessert. There is a wizardry involved and simply reading a recipe book doesn’t always give you ALL you need to know before cooking as my mistakes show. Hopefully I can help my students see that learning works the same way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s