Anna's LettersComments Off on “Brain-Crossing”

Dear Families:

As we settle into the end of November, we continue to reflect on a series of events for families that filled the weeks prior.

On Thursday, November 8 and Friday, November 9, our dynamic math team, Shirley and Beth, took advantage of the empty fifth grade classrooms, vacant because of the camping trip, to host a “make and take” workshop to familiarize adults with the tools children use for problem solving.



Thursday showed us a packed room, full of parents across the three early grades of Kindergarten, first,  and second grade. Friday brought a smaller group of parents in grades three and four.  

Both days began with a video of Jo Boaler, introducing the idea of inspirational math, pushing us to seek out opportunities for “brain-crossing” – problems where we think of numbers visually, exercising our whole mind and taking risks as mathematicians – pushing far beyond the use of a formula or rote math. Then, parents worked together in table groups to solve problems using tools that were introduced, and sharing their problem solving strategies aloud.  

This workshop was all about the tools children use when doing mathematics. If you’ve gone into a BNS classroom, you will have seen tons of tools that companies make, alongside tools that children have made.   

We talked about natural tools, like the “finger number line,” and how it’s important to start with our left pinky and count across, mirroring the number line we often see on classroom walls.

We discussed the progression from concrete counters like teddy bears and beans to drawings of those items, to being able to group those items into fives and tens, symbolized by quickly drawn dots. Your children are learning about the relationship of “5-ness and 10ness,” important foundational concepts they will take with them into the upper grades.

Families left with Rekenreks, Counters, Ten Frames, Dice, Dry Erase Markers and hopefully, with a deeper sense of what makes the study of math and numbers so rich and essential for their children, no matter the grade.  

Join us December 5th for our next Parents as Learning Partners, all about Early Childhood Literacy Development, with reading specialist Becky and our intervention team.


All for now,



Quote of the Week:

Last Wednesday, Etta Eatman, a first grade child in Janet and Bill’s class said to her mom, “Mommy!  Guess what Bill said.” “What, Et?” asked mom. “He said that mistakes are beautiful.”







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