Thursday, October 3, 2013

Master Fractions and Set the Stage for Success, As Featured in The Wall Street Journal

Algebra Readiness begins in elementary school. Three essential topics in elementary school mathematics are 1) numerical fluency, which includes the effortless recall of addition facts and the times tables stemming from mental math strategies for computation, 2) foundational understanding of the nature fractions, and 3) the basics of problem solving. Mathnasium was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal and highlights our unique and effective approach to teaching fractions. Read the full article here.

As students move into middle school, work with fractions expands to embrace rational numbers (common fractions, decimal fractions, percents, ratio and proportion, and negative numbers). At the same time, student’s problem solving horizons broaden to include multi–step word problems, both routine and non–routine.

Successful mastery of these elements sets the stage for success in Algebra, the rest of high school math, and college. If any of these areas are under developed, the road ahead is fraught with danger.

Visit a Mathnasium Learning Center and see where your child stands.

- Larry Martinek

Monday, September 23, 2013

Breaking Down the Question Barrier

Children need to be exposed to the forms of mathematical thought as well as to the details. What is missing in most instruction is the timely unfolding of these basic forms of mathematical thought. The use of consistent, familiar forms clearly depicts the underlying structure and helps eliminate confusion and uncertainty.
Without the structure provided by the Question Forms, classroom instruction often disintegrates into the usual collection of details—facts, operations, and procedures—that have characterized unsuccessful mathematics education for decades. All students (“at–risk,” “at–level,” and “talented” alike) benefit from having new material in mathematics presented as reoccurring manifestations of the same set of basic ideas with which they have already become familiar.

Let’s start with questions in the “single-form” format. Each is a breakdown of the format of questions based on one single concept; this allows your student to lay down a base to build a foundation on.

Counting, Grouping, Intervals: 
Count from _____ to _____ by _____s 
     Count from 2 to 16 by 2s...from 1 to 15 backward by 2s.

Denomination and SAMEness:
 What is another name for _________? 
     Name 2 numbers that add–up to 100.

Subtraction and Addition:
 How far is it from _____ to _____?
     How far is it from 5 to 11?...from 13 to 20?

_____ is greater than/less than/equal to _____ .
     Name 3 numbers that are between 7 and 10.

 How much are _____ groups of _____ ? 
     If you see 8 eyes, how many people are there?...16 eyes?...100 eyes?

 How many _____ are there in _____?
     How much is 1 + 1?...2 + 2?...4 + 4?...8 + 8?...16 + 16?...(continue as far as you students can go mentally.)

Fractions and Fractional Parts:
 How much is _____ (fractional part) of _____? 
     Half of what number is 7? 1? 12?
How much is half of 8?...of 12?... of 18?... of 200?...of 1,000?

“The Whole is equal to the sum of its Parts”: _____ (whole) = _____ (part) + _____ (part) 
     A cook bought two bags of apples. One bag of apples weights 15 pounds and another weighs 10 pounds. How much is left after the cook uses 17 pounds of the apples for pies?

_____% of _____ is _____. 
     How much is 50% of 6?...of 20?

 _____ is what part of _____? 
     Is 7 half of 14, or is 7 twice as much as 14?

Change and Variation:
 As _____ gets bigger/smaller, _____ gets bigger/smaller. 
     Does it cost more to buy 5 apples or 10 apples? Why?

_____ is to _____ as _____ is to _____ . 
     Does it cost more to buy 5 apples or 10 apples? Why?

- Larry Martinek

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School Refresher

Did you know your student could lose anywhere from two to two and a half months worth of math knowledge over the summer months? By enrolling your student at Mathnasium now, they can move ahead in their class and continue to learn new things.

Refresh their (and your) knowledge with key terms from the Mathnasium Glossary below.

addition counting “how many altogether.” The process of forming a whole.

complement “the rest of it.” the remaining part with respect to the whole.

counting the process of determining quantity (how many, how much).
denomination the collective name of a group of similar things (apples, dogs, inches).

division counting “how many of these are there inside of that.” The process of separating a whole into equal parts.

fraction the result of breaking a whole into equal parts; one or more of those equal

group one or more of the same thing (1 apple, 9 dogs, 5 inches, 8 things).

half the first fraction. A whole divided into two equal parts; one of those parts. “Two parts the same.”

interval the distance from one number (or unit) to another. The space between two numbers.

Law of SAMEness It is only possible to add and subtract things of the same kind, things with the same name, the same denomination (an apple plus a banana is not a “banapples”).

mathematics the study of wholes and parts, and the relationship between them.

matrix literally, “mother.” That which gives form, origin, or foundation to something enclosed or embedded in it. A place of origin and growth. Related words include environment, framework, womb, structure, model; enclosed, enveloping, surrounding.

measurement the determining of quantity.

multiplication counting “in equal groups.” The process of forming a whole from equal groups.

part a component of the whole. A fragment, fraction, section, portion, region; a piece broken off.

percent literally, “for each 100,” “parts per hundred,” “how many for each hundred.”

proportion literally, “according to amount.” The relation of one part to another or to the whole; relative size. Comparison, analogy, balance, symmetry.

ratio a comparsion of two numbers by division.

subtraction counting “how far apart two numbers are” and “how much is left.” The process of removing a part(s) from a whole.

whole undivided. The one composed of the many. That which can be broken–down into parts. All of the quantity under consideration.

zero the number that counts none. That which has no parts.   

- Larry Martinek

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Back to Basics: The Essence of the Mathnasium Difference

Principles of Math can come across confusing to students, especially when they are bombarded with multiple rules and confusing practices. Mathnasium focuses on introducing new subject matter with a consistent and knowable approach, allowing students to build upon a foundation of knowledge while understanding and adding new principles.

To begin Early in a child’s learning, values are expressed in groups of 10s:

• 10 pennies make a dime.

• 10 dimes make a dollar.

   10 “one-dollar” bills make 1 ten dollars, and 1 ten–dollar breaks down to 10 “one–dollar” bills

• 100 pennies make a dollar.

• 100 dimes make ten dollars.

• 10 hundreds make a thousand.

• 1,000 thousands make a million.

Some things ”make sense” to cut in half: a candy bar, a piece of wood, numbers... Other things don’t: people, pennies, cars... To diagnose the correct approach, assess the subject matter. Use the examples below as guidance.

• If twice as many people as you expected come on a picnic, then you will need twice as much food.

But, if you are baking bread, twice the regular heat will not get the job done twice as fast.

• When you double the number of pieces, the size of each piece is half as much as it was. (This is the inverse relationship: when one thing goes up, the other goes down.)

Contrary to its reputation, Math is not all numbers, in fact, word prefixes play a large role in setting the numerical value. Take these examples:

• “mono–”means 1: The monorail at Disneyland runs on 1 rail.

• “bi–” means 2: A bicycle has 2 wheels.

• “tri–” means 3: a Triceratops has 3 horns.

• “qua–” means 4: a quartet has 4 players

• “dec–” means 10: a decade is 10 years

• “cent–” means 100: percent means “for each 100”

• “mil–” means 1,000: a millennium is 1,000 years—a mile is “1,000 paces”

Finally, I touch on a few points of knowledge for your student (if this is for parents, “parents have kids… teachers have student) that will assist him or her build the base for understanding the previously dissected, whole and parts method.

• A quarter of an hour is 15 minutes (not 25).

• There are 4 quarts in one gallon. A “quart” is a quarter of a gallon.

• Whole basketball and football games have 4 quarters.

• Four quarters make a whole dollar.

• One half dollar is the same as 2 quarters.

• Half-time in a basketball game comes after 2 quarters.

These basic understandings set the cornerstone for laying the foundation of knowledge to continually build and evolve your student’s mind, the Mathnasium way.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Whole Equals the Sum of its Parts

Word problems can be tough even for the math-minded. The challenge lies in correctly converting words to the numbers and symbols of an equation. One method that helps is the concept that “the whole is equal to the sum of its parts.” Start with these three questions:

• What is the whole in this question? Is its value known or unknown?

• What are the parts in this question? Are their values known or unknown?

• What is the relationship between the whole and its parts? Which remains constant in the question? Which changes? How does it change?

By figuring out what are the parts and what is the whole, we can decide whether we need to perform a synthesis (“building up”) or an analysis (“breaking down”) to solve the problem at hand.

If the whole is unknown, then the task is to build it up from its known parts:

• If the parts are equal, we multiply.

• If the parts are not equal, we add.

In other words, affirming that “the whole is equal to the sum (total) of its parts.”

If the whole and one or more of its parts are known, then the task is to find the remaining part(s) by breaking down the whole, using the known part(s):

• If the known parts are not equal, we subtract.

• If the known parts are equal, we divide.

Basically, “Each individual part is equal to the whole minus all of the other parts.”

By identifying which category the problem falls under, we can designate a relationship and determine the plan of attack; this is called the whole-part method. Below are a few examples of the method in action.

Ex. #1:

A box contains some marbles. 6 of the marbles are red, 5 are green, and 14 are orange. How many marbles are in the box?

In this question, the whole (the total number of marbles) is unknown. Since the parts (the number of red, green and orange marbles) are known, we can use the Key Synthesis Concept to find the whole:

total # of marbles = (# of red) + (# of green)+ (# of orange) = 5 + 6 + 14

= 25 marbles.

Ex. #2:

A train traveled 200 miles at an average speed of 50 miles per hour. How long did the trip take?

In this question, the distance traveled is the whole and is known. In each hour the train traveled an average of 50 miles, so:

time of trip = (distance traveled) ÷ (average rate of speed)

= 200 miles ÷ 50 miles per hour = 4 hours.

Ex. #3:

Another sandbox contains 100 pounds of mixed sand, 15% of which is brown sand. The rest is white. How much white sand must be added to make the mixture only 5% brown.

In this question, there are 15 pounds (15% of 100) of brown sand. As we add white sand, the whole (the total amount of sand) changes, but the amount of brown sand remains constant (at 15 pounds).

What we want is “15 out of the (new) total” to equal “5 out of 100” (5%, the desired outcome).

We can ask the following equivalent questions,

“15 is to what number as 5 is to 100?” or
“5 out of 100 = 15 out of what number?” or “5/100 = 15/what number.”

All of these methods yield the same answer: 300 pounds. Since the box already has 100 pounds of sand, 200 pounds (300 – 100) must be added.

The whole-part method allows us to identify the first step of a word problem bringing us one step closer to the solution and making math make sense.

- Larry Martinek 

Friday, June 7, 2013

18,000 Students looking forward to a Summer of Algebra, Angles, and Arithmetic

For most kids, summertime means swimming, sports and sun. But for 18,000 students around the country, the summer months will also be filled with algebra, angles, and arithmetic.

Yes, math.

Mathnasium is anticipating its largest summer enrollment ever this year, with 18,000 students ranging from elementary level to high school expected to take math classes at its franchise locations across the country. The reason? Many students – and their parents – are looking to prevent the notorious summer slide, during which kids lose math concepts and skills developed during the prior school year.

“Much like the muscles athletes use in competition, a student’s math muscles have to be exercised to remain in top form. Research has shown that during the summer months, students literally lose up to 2½ months of computational math skills developed during the year. However, 18,000 students across the nation have decided to fight the summer slide this year and work out their math muscles at Mathnasium. When school starts again in the fall, they’ll be well ahead of the game,” said Larry Martinek, Chief Instructional Officer at Mathnasium.

Summer math students typically spend two to three hours a week at their local Mathnasium franchise locations, working from a customized curriculum designed to mesh with their skill levels and needs. The sessions include specially developed math workouts and math games sessions designed to both motivate and educate.

The sizable enrollment in the Mathnasium summer classes demonstrates the importance of math skills to many areas of academic achievement at all educational levels, as standardized math testing is often used to determine advancement, class selection, and placement. Importantly, summer math at Mathnasium is equally applicable to students who need to address deficiencies in their math repertoire as well as those who wish to progress further than their normal classwork allows.

“I’m expecting about 70 students to sign up for summer math this year, which equals nearly half of our enrollment during the academic year. These students are committed to math for a variety of reasons, with some looking to fill gaps and others wanting to take advantage of the summertime to move ahead. One thing they all have in common is the desire to have a little fun but at the same time be challenged, and that’s something I hope all our students come to understand. Math can be both fun and exciting – and it’s something that everyone can learn,” said Alan Flyer, Owner of the Mathnasium franchise in Roslyn, N.Y.

Mathnasium’s summer math programs are being offered at Mathnasium’s more than 400 franchise locations across the U.S. and abroad.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Making Math Make Sense

Utilizing the Mathnasium Method, our franchisees and tutors take pride in teaching our students with a different approach, one that makes sense to them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Truth about Parallel Lines

Parallel lines are lines that are on the same plane and never intersect.  The distance between the two lines remain the same and do not change, no matter the length of each line.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Numbers add up for Hooksett Mathnasium franchise owner

Math is sometimes seen as a subject students either love or hate, something they simply get or don't get.

Not necessarily so, says Mathnasium, which brought its franchise and its motto, "children don't hate math," to Hooksett earlier this year.

"A lot of students over the years come to feel like math is something that's just torture, and they kind of hide in the back of the classroom. They hope the teacher doesn't call on them," said Martha Gagnon, center director. "They might be embarrassed, frustrated, so by the time they come to us, they just hate math."

Mathnasium aims to help them get over their anxiety.

"Once they see that we can help them make sense of math, they start to overcome their frustration, and they end up wanting to come to Mathnasium," she said. "Maybe no one ever explained it to them that way, and a lot of students end up having all of their grades improving, not just math, because they have a better outlook, more confidence."

Mathnasium, a franchise tutoring center for students in grades 2-12, opened in January. The center's memberships function like those with a gym: once a member, students may come to gymnasium as often as they like, even every day. The programs are tailor-made to student needs.

Students take an oral diagnostic-test, followed by a written test based on the oral's results, which is used to create a customized learning plan for the child.

A third of the time is spent with this customized lesson plan. The other two thirds are given to something called "number sense" and working on homework.

"A lot of the students have a real hard time with their homework, and their parents don't feel comfortable helping them because they didn't learn things necessarily the same way that students are learning them now, and it ends up being a frustration in the family," Gagnon said.

Number sense is the intuitive grasp of numbers and patterns which is as innate in the mind as language. Mathnasium attempts to reintroduce that concept to students, freeing them from the frustrating mire of rote memorization.
Jillian Roster, left, and Bailey Caulfield study at Mathnasium, which recently opened in Hooksett. (COURTESY)

The center also works to instill this number sense in students who struggle with it, using exercises to get children off of counting on their hands or get them to think in doubles, for instance.

"Number sense is something that comes naturally to some kids and not to others," she said. "What we do is we try to work with them on things like counting and grouping, proportional thinking so that when they get older, they're not coming up with an answer to a math problem and not even know when their answer is completely off the wall, and the earlier we can start working with them, the better."

Gagnon's background is in computers, and she once served as the youngest programmer at New Hampshire Insurance. After returning home from a three-year stay in Alaska, she began thinking about the next step, which she found after she heard a radio advertisement for Mathnasium.

"I've always loved math, and I was kind of at a crossroads, so I decided to pursue the opportunity," Gagnon said. "I went out and met with Mathnasium in Los Angeles, and I guess you could say the rest is history."

Mathnasium is open Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost varies between programs, but according to Gagnon, parents generally end up paying something in the range of $20 to $25 per hour of instruction. The center also has an SAT prep program, which is offered to regular high school members at no extra charge.

-- Brendan Clogston
New Hampshire Union Leader
Sunday, May 5, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Importance of Telling Time in a Digital Age

Most students today grow up with tablets, cell phones, and laptops at their fingertips. These tools can aid learning, but they can also encourage laziness. With the Mathnasium Method, students are taught to use their brains, not their iPads. I’ll demonstrate this by using an example of how kids can learn to tell time.

By second grade, most students can count by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s, up to at least 200. We can make it easy for them to “tell time” by expanding this to include counting by 15s, 20s, and 30s, as well as counting by 10s starting at any number (7, 17, 27...).

When you stop and think about it, all points on the clock can be reached quickly by counting various combinations of 30, 20, 15, 10, 5, and 1.

When students are taught these counting skills before they deal with clocks, learning how to tell time is a very straightforward process. Without these skills, it’s quite a chore.

Here’s a way to teach students these skills:

• Counting by 10s starting at any number goes like this: start at 23: twenty–three (23), thirty–three (33), forty–three (43)... as though you are just counting by 10s, except that you say the three. So, counting by 10s starting at 37 becomes thirty–seven, forty–seven, fifty–seven...

• Counting by 15s can be done by counting by 10 and then counting by 5: 15 + 15 = (15 + 5) + 10 = 20 + 10 = 30. 30 + 15 = (30 + 10) + 5 = 40 + 5 = 45. 45 + 15 = (45 + 5) + 10 = 50 + 10 = 60.

• Counting by 20s is almost the same as counting by 2s: 0, 20 (twenty), 40 (forty), 60 (sixty), 80 (eighty)...

• Counting by 30s should be presented after the child can count by 3s. Counting by 3s is similar to counting by 2s. Counting by 2s can be explained as, “Say the number, skip the next number, say the number...” Then counting by 3s becomes: “say a number, skip the next two numbers...” Now counting by 30s becomes: 0, 30 (thirty), 60 (sixty), 90 (ninety)...

With the help of parents or teachers, telling time can be introduced to a student as early as kindergarten. The sooner students learn to count quickly using the above methods, the sooner they’ll be using terms like “quarter till” and “half past.”

- Larry Martinek

Friday, May 3, 2013

Study: MRI Scans Can Predict Outcome of Math Tutoring

Stanford, Calif. — When it comes to math, MRIs may be better than IQs — and even past math scores — at showing whether a tutor can help a child master everything from trapezoids to trigonometry.

A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine says that the size and circuitry of certain parts of children’s brains are excellent predictors of how well they’ll respond to intensive math tutoring.

The researchers’ most surprising finding was that children’s IQ and math scores had no effect on tutoring outcomes, yet brain scan images “predicted how much a child would learn,” said Vinod Menon, a Stanford professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences who was the study’s senior author.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Menon’s research team took MRI scans of 24 third-graders just before they underwent eight weeks of rigorous math tutoring.

A control group of children also had their brains scanned, but they didn’t get any tutoring.

The kids who were tutored showed across-the-board gains in their arithmetic skills, with the levels of their improvement varying wildly — from 8 percent improvement up to 198 percent. The children in the control group showed no signs of improvement.

The researchers found that the kids who responded the best to tutoring tended to have a larger and more active hippocampus. Named after the Greek word for “seahorse,” the spirally hippocampus is known to play an important role in learning and memory. But its role in mastering specific skills — like math — hadn’t been explored until now.

Even more than its size, the hippocampus’s ability to get along with other parts of the brain was the biggest predictor of math success.

The type of MRI used by Menon’s team is called an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), which measures changes in the flow of oxygenated blood from one part of the brain to another.

Like watching electricity flow between two points, the machine reveals how much one section of the brain is wired to other parts, “much like you might measure the synchronization of two different clocks,” Menon said. “The more tightly linked they are, the more learning benefits we see in these children.”

Menon believes the tighter the connections between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex — a part of the brain that influences decision-making and behavior — the more rapid the retrieval of stored knowledge.

The fact that a brain scan — rather than IQ or math scores — could predict how students would respond to tutoring also surprised Michael Posner, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Oregon who was not involved in the study.

But Posner is convinced that the “variety of very modern imaging methods” used by Menon were accurate. “That’s one of the main reasons this study is important,” he said.

Posner was also surprised by the involvement of the hippocampus, rather than other regions of the brain, in learning math. “The hippocampus isn’t a system that one would’ve thought specific to mathematics,” Posner said.

“For me, the intriguing speculation is that the reason these areas are better in these children is not because they were born better, but because they had acquired important learning skills at an earlier age - and not necessarily mathematical skills,” Posner said. “It might say that our early education should be designed to make the child a successful learner, no matter what he or she learns.”

Menon said he hopes that someday brain MRIs - which would cost parents upward of $500 - will help guide educators about the best approaches for teaching math.

But Kobad Bugwadia, owner and director of the Mathnasium tutoring center in Campbell, Calif., isn’t so sure.

He said he thinks the results of the study are useful for understanding how the structure of the brain influences learning, but stops short of envisioning the scans as a way to predict math performance.

“Maybe how quickly children learn could be different,” said Bugwadia, who left his job as a successful Silicon Valley electrical engineer to help children shed their fears about math. “But at some point, I strongly believe that they all have abilities to do well if given the right tools and opportunities.”

- Jessica Shugart
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mathnasium: Where kids go to work out their brains

Math joke! There are three types of people in the world -- those who can count and those who can't.

Perry Lalliss, Mathnasium director and owner, is out to change the misplaced perception that there is a "can" and "can't."

"We want people to really understand math," he said. "We really are here for number mastery rather than for memorization."

His mathematics learning center franchise is located in Lindon at 135 S. State St. with tables and tutors ready and waiting for members who need help. Students at Mathnasium range from second graders to seniors in high school.

Lalliss compares learning math to the sport of basketball. A young child will first learn the fundamentals of basketball -- dribbling, shooting, passing.

"Let's say they never really master those and they move on. Well, the other team members master those and they go on to the next level. Eventually if you keep being on a team with all those kids they are not even working on fundamentals anymore, they are working on the plays and things. And if you don't have the fundamentals to do it, you are not even going to be able to play with those people. It's the same thing with math," Lalliss said.

There is a three-prong approach each Mathnasium uses: giving an assessment or evaluation, helping critical thinking and helping in the here and now with student homework, a big part of validation.

"We want to get them caught up if they are behind and keep them on task," Lalliss said.

Parents usually enroll their children for six to 12 months visiting the learning center two to three times per week. According to Lallis, with math illiteracy at an all-time high and college and technical careers becoming increasingly competitive, parents want to give their children an advantage and Mathnasium is the tool they use to meet that goal.

"We make math make sense" is the math education center's motto. One of the fastest growing franchises and ranked in the top 500 by Entrepreneur's Magazine for seven consecutive years, Mathnasium is established on every continent but Australia and Africa.

The Mathnasium in Lindon is the second center in Utah County, Lalliss said. The first was Highland. His choice to open the center where it is was made by practical deduction. He has done his math.

"Most Mathnasiums are about half this size, some are a little bit bigger than this, some are even smaller, but yes, I figured this area would support a lot more students and based on some other Mathnasiums that I know fill them up and then you can only put so many students in a smaller space so I figured if I started big I wouldn't have to worry about expanding later on," Lalliss said.

So far his idea is catching on. Taylor Yoo is a high school student wants to do better in high school math. His mother signed him up to Mathnasium.

"Ever since freshman year I have been getting Bs and I want to do better," Yoo said. "I want to go on to college, major in biology, get into pre-med."

He wants to be a dentist.

"My problems are some of the most basic stuff, I guess. They start with really easy stuff and then move on to like more advanced math curriculum. They find stuff that I didn't even know. They find it and just you know, good for you I guess," Yoo said.

He laughed and said he is not bored with the sessions and has seen a difference in his perception of math concepts. He plans to attend Mathnasium until he gets an A in math.

Mathnasium tutors are there to help.

"I like to teach math. When I got out of college that is what I did," Lalliss said.

The education method he uses is the Mathnasium combination of mental, verbal, visual, tactile and written techniques to help children learn math.

"One thing I've noticed that is very common is one thing that I did when I was younger, is what I call 'cookbooking,'" Lalliss said. "I eventually figured it out but the problem is a lot of students never figure it out. They eventually get to a point where they never figured out these other concepts, they need them now, they don't have them."

He said cookbookers don't really understand the concept and they use the math formulas or procedure like a cook uses recipes.

"Cookbookers see the example in the workbook, they don't really understand, they just do their best to follow it. And so it's very hard for a teacher to pick those students out because what they see is that homework is coming in and it looks fine.

"Sometimes they do fairly good on a test even but it's short term memory so when they lose that recipe because they didn't understand the concept they won't be able to solve the next one. It keeps building on itself until everything comes to a head and suddenly there are teachers, parents, math craziness, and the student is upset. They don't know what is going on," Lalliss said.

- Cathy Allred from the Daily Herald.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Earth Day Celebrations

Being green is more than a trend.  Keep your student educated and aware of the environment around them by celebrating Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd.  This paper craft is a simple print-out with no tape or glue needed!    

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The reviews are in - Math speaks volumes!

Everyday we strive to reach students through the Mathnasium Method from our very own Larry Martinek.  When our students excitedly show us their great grade, add their test to the Brag Board, or even get an answer correct during practice, it makes the process that much more rewarding.

Courtesy of @lapkoi!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When life gives you lemons...learn Math!

With Spring underway and Summer around the corner, we're already planning ways to keep your student sharp throughout the school break.  Encourage your students to utilize skills they mastered during the Summer months.  Set up a lemonade stand with reasonable prices, provide change for larger bills and let them do the math.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Math Equation

Mondays are inevitable, let us help you forget it's Monday with our Pinterest page! For a little while at least...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Larry and the Importance of Higher Education

Learning Objectives: PSAT Math Success

Most high school kids take the PSAT. Scoring high on it is both an indicator of good SAT performance and an opportunity to earn a National Merit Scholarship. It pays to treat the PSAT seriously. It just so happens, though, that doing well on the math portion of the PSAT may have more to do with having a good foundation in the subject than having advanced, harder-to-obtain skills.

A study performed by the Journal of Neuroscience found a positive link between basic, single-digit math calculation and success on the PSAT. An MRI scan showed that students with high activity in the left area of the brain, which focuses on simple mathematical exercises, had higher PSAT scores. Although the PSAT and SAT are designed to measure advanced high school-level skills and concepts, this study shows that doing well on the PSAT can be as simple as possessing basic math reasoning (and using a little memorization).

Mathnasium offers a Numerical Fluency program which assists students of all ages who don’t have a complete grasp of computation with single-digit numbers. We define fluency as the effortless recall of number facts, for example, counting by 6s, 7s, and 8s, as well being able to effortlessly calculate “7 + 8 + 9.” Mastery of exercises like these ensure that students have the mental math skills that leads to success on the PSAT and beyond.

Mathnasium’s customized lesson plans and individualized attention make sure that dedicated students attain Numerical Fluency, paving the way for success on the PSAT and beyond.

- Larry Martinek 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pi Day Recipes

Pi Day or March 14th is just around the corner and we're celebrating in a mathematically, delicious way.  We found 18 different pie recipes for you and your student to celebrate!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mathnasium 'Mompreneur' makes learning Math easy!

Mompreneur, Krista Kamenski Adams, 43, of South Charlotte, began Mathnasium in Charlotte in September of 2006. Krista tutors math to students of all ages and helps prepare them for the EOGs. Keep reading to see if your child can benefit from Mathnasium’s help!

Q. How did you get started with Mathnasium?

A. After teaching for 12 years and private tutoring for 4 years, I knew I wanted to stay in education but not necessarily in the classroom. I like owning my own business even though it has challenges too.

Q. What is your teaching background?

A. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from East Carolina University in 1991, spent 2 years teaching at St Thomas the Apostle in Delaware, 10 years teaching 5th and 6th grades in CMS, and became National Board Certified in 2001.

Q. What drew you to teaching and tutoring?

A. I really enjoy working with and teaching children, especially the pre-teen ages.

Q. What exactly does Mathnasium do?

A. We are a year-round math learning and enrichment center. We work with children of all ability levels.

Q. What grades/math do you tutor in?

A. Grades 2-Algebra 1 during school year in our main program. Summer adds a Kindergarten and 1st grade readiness program. We offer private tutoring for High School Students.

Q. What kinds of events do you hold for students?

A. Every year we host the North Carolina Math Competition which holds local competitions all over the state. The top 20 from each grade level are invited to UNC-Chapel Hill for the State finals. This is sponsored by Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization.

Q. What are the signs that you should get your child a tutor?

A. If you start to notice a lack of confidence in your student as well as struggles with homework, you may want to explore the various learning centers in the area and find the one that best fits your child and your family.

Q. What are the most common challenges?

A. Managing multiple children's homework and activities often make it difficult for parents to provide the all the necessary support at home. Coming to a neutral setting like Mathnasium takes the pressure off of parents and allows for more quality family-time in the evenings.

Q. What types of activities do you do to help the child?

A. We offer math homework support, quiz and test prep, EOG prep, grade-level readiness over the summer, and EOC prep. Our program is individual instruction in a small group setting so that students get both one-on-one instruction and independent work-time. That way they demonstrate understanding of the concepts on their own. The last thing we want is a learned-dependency (when they can only perform when we are guiding them.) Our program offers a nice balance.

Q. What is your favorite part about tutoring?

A. As a classroom teacher I was often not able to meet the individual needs of all my students. At Mathnasium, we can customize and tailor instruction to the individual. Students are not coming to us because they are bad at math - they come to us to practice their math, just as they do for soccer, dance or piano. The more they practice, the more confidence they gain, and the better their math skills get! That is then carried in to the classroom, often across the board to all subject areas.

Read more here:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is your child being left behind in Math?

When students can do these questions (at their grade level and below), mentally — without using pencil and paper — they are likely doing well. For students who can't handle these questions, this is a warning sign. Very often they need help outside of the classroom. Students who can do the questions at and above their grade level may need a more challenging experience. 

See how well your child answers these questions. The results may surprise you!

First Grade:11 + 12 = ___

Second Grade:1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 = ___

Third Grade:How much is 99 plus 99 plus 99?

Fourth Grade:Count by 1¾ from 0 to 7.

Fifth Grade:Which is greatest: 17/18, 23/30, or 18/19? Explain how you got your answer.

Sixth Grade:Halfway through the second quarter, how much of the game is left?

Seventh Grade:How much is 6½% of 250?

Pre-Algebra:On a certain map, 6 inches represent 25 miles. How many miles do 15 inches represent?

Algebra:When you take 3 away from twice a number, the answer is 8. What is the number?

Geometry:What is the Absolute Value of the point (3, 4)?

For the answers, click here or visit our site!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weekly Math Fact: Prime Numbers

The longest prime number has been discovered and it's 17,425,170 digits long, surpassing the prior number discovered in 2008 which was a measly 12,978,189 digits long.

Discovered by University of Central Missouri mathematician Curtis Cooper, the number is 2 raised to the 57,885,161 power minus 1, NBC reports.  A prime number is by definition a natural number greater than 1 that has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself.

This message was brought to you by Optimus Prime Number!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Daily Math Laugh

Rule of Thumb: Math may seem strict, but we have a sense of humor.  Check out our Pinterest for a little laugh!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Larry on the subject of Math Anxiety

The bell rings and everyone takes their seats. The teacher passes out the test and, with sharpened pencils, everyone prepares to turn the page and begin. The student next to you flips open the first page and seems to begin answering questions with ease. Time seems to speed up, nervousness kicks in, and you stare at the first test question but forget how to complete it, even after having studied the material over and over. Panic rises and before you know it, the hour is done, the test is over, but the innate fear of it all hasn’t subsided. Parents, this is what we call “math anxiety.”

Numbers on a page not only confuse some children, but can also potentially give them full-blown anxiety. This “math anxiety” is intense and feels similar to stage fright. In many cases, math anxiety comes from a student’s memorization of the correct procedure and routine to solving a problem, as opposed to developing a core understanding of the problem. When this happens, children quickly forget what they’ve learned, and anxiety sets in.

As parents we want to eliminate as much stress and offer as much support to our kids as we can. Working with teachers and outside resources is one the best way to get your child comfortable with math content. It is extremely important that you let your child know that just because they don’t understand something the first time doesn’t mean they won’t understand forever.

One way to sharpen these skills and avoid math anxiety is through math instruction outside of school. It is a false misconception that extra help is only for children falling behind in school. Additional lessons and preparation is not only beneficial for kids struggling with the material, it also benefits those students who understand the material and want to strive for further concept and skill development. We want to see our kids keep up with the curriculum, not just try to catch up with daily lessons.

One of Mathnasium’s core math lessons helps our students with Computational Fluency and this includes effortless recall of number facts with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These core skills and principles are extremely valuable for building a strong foundation of basic math aptitude, which will carry forward through grade levels.

We will make sure our students are able to:

Be fluent in adding single digit numbers, something they will be able to do quickly and efficiently with practice

Count from any number to any number, by any number; this will aid them with more advanced math problems

Use Mental Math, for example:

• How much is 5, three times?

• 99 + 99 + 99

• 301 – 195

• 4 x 26

• 1,000 ÷ 16

• 7% of 300

• 6 ½% of 150

All of the above skill sets are crucial to the core understanding, and ultimate advancement, of the math knowledge necessary to compete in the global economy. At Mathnasium, we work to eliminate “math anxiety” and replace it with “math confidence.” From this confidence comes long-term success in math.

- Larry Martinek

Monday, January 28, 2013

Me + X = Love Facebook Contest

We're asking our fans to find 'x' in the equation ME + x = Love.  What completes your equation, is it your friends, pet, teacher? Tell us by uploading a photo or instagram to our Facebook contest application. The entry with the most votes will receive an Apple iPad Mini! Click here to enter.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Afternoon Cartoon

Want to make change? This cartoon illustrates how making change for a dollar can be an exercise in computation. Try it with your kids, but aim for 5 different ways to make change, not 293!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teach and Move On Method (Part Two)

The Teach and Move On Method lets educators assist students with individual problems, then move to another student, and check back in later.  Mathnasium's Larry Martinek goes into detail on the method, offering tips and suggestions for helping your child by providing the tools and guidance he or she needs.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Step inside Mathnasium!

Mathnasium's open environment encourages learning with a clear and accessible layout! Teachers can easily navigate to assist several students at time, allowing privacy and space.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Larry's Math Mediums

Once you learn math and continually use it, you forget how you learned it to start with.” -Larry Martinek 

What do your kids want to be when they grow up? A ballerina? Or an astronaut? Or “just like Mike”? Growing up, kids idolize their favorite singers, actors, and athletes, but kids might not understand that their heroes weren’t born gifted. You and I know that they worked incredibly hard. Fortunately, this means that many dream professions can be attained with extensive practice. Practice math every day and that goal to become an astronaut will take your child very far.

Working on math skills outside of the classroom is crucial to developing a well-rounded grasp of how math is used in the real world. Just as basketball players and musicians do drills, practicing math concepts and skills over an extended period of time can be immensely rewarding. When your child sees that math is utilized everywhere in everyday life, the importance of math as a subject worth practicing will be obvious.

Here are a few ways you can practice math with your kids and prove the practical significance of the subject:

1. Have your kids help out in the kitchen – Preparing food or baking offers a great opportunity for kids to practice with fractions by measure dry and liquid ingredients.

2. Let kids figure out the change for a $10 bill and a $20 bill when they go shopping with you

3. Let them help trip planning - Sources like Google maps help children visualize distances and calculate travel times.

4. Watch the game together – Sports like football are full of statistics and calculations. Watch the game and talk about how these math skills are necessary, even in the world of sports.

5. Set up a hot chocolate stand – Allowing your child to handle and count currency in real-life

At Mathnasium, we use our proprietary Mathnasium Method to teach skills and convey the importance of math. It’s a tried, true, and perfected method that uses a variety of mechanisms to cement learning just like we suggested above. Here they are:


Questions like “99 + 99 + 99” And “3/4 of 20” are best done mentally. Strong mental math skills help students develop confidence which is the heart of the both self-esteem and a willingness to explore math, in addition to being a much more efficient way to handle many situations. Many of our centers host free Multiplication Madness nights, a fun and motivating way to keep your children’s skills sharp.


Direct Teaching and the Socratic Question are verbal modes of delivery. Also, asking students to explain how they got their answers is a verbal experience that can convey understanding.


A significant number of Mathnasium worksheets contain pictures that help students to focus on the critical attribute(s) of the question at hand.


When appropriate, our instructors use manipulatives (coins, dice, cards, scales, clocks, fraction circles, etc.) to guide and reinforce students’ thinking.


Mathnasium teaches all of the standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, as well as when written procedures are preferable to mental ones, and vice versa.

Mathnasium lessons involve a combination of these methods to provide an integrated math lesson that not only teaches, but builds confidence and self-esteem. In addition, our Brag Boards on Facebook and Twitter allow Mathnasium locations to showcase the hard work and success of their valued students. Thank you for your interest in how we make math make sense to kids, and how you can too.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Your Child, Their Education, & Technology

Here are a few statistics for you when it comes to children and technology.

- 20% of children ages 3 to 8 own their own iPod Touch
- 24% of children ages 3 to 8 own an iPad
- 8% of children ages 3 to 8 own their own iPhone
- 80% of teenagers own an iPod

This means your child most likely fits into one of these categories or can be found using a family tablet.  The question is, how do parents take advantage of the increased use? Educational applications.  

We searched far and low for the highest ranked, user-friendly versions of math-driven applications for your benefit and with the help of  Best Apps for Kids, we've made a list.


Math Doodles: Creating an outlet for your visual learner, Math Doodles makes a fun and even showcase unique careers that involve Math.

Middle School

Marble Math: This app is the perfect combination of education and addiction perfect for the math-challenged user.  

High School

Sushi Monster: Created by Scholastic, Sushi Monster allows the user to choose between addition, multiplication along with the degrees of difficulty. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Teach and Move On Method

The Teach and Move On Method lets educators help multiple students by moving from student to student and working on individual problems.  This allows students to work out the problem individually with assistance from the instructor.  This also keeps the instructor constantly engaged in proactive teaching.