Math On-A-Stick: New Favorite at Minnesota State Fair

math-on-a-stickThose who talk to me for any meaningful amount of time usually are quick to detect an accent, and most can attribute it to the Upper Midwest. I’m a native of the Twin Cities, and “How to Speak Minnesotan” is the most widely lent title in my sizable collection of books.

I love to return home anytime (yes, even in winter), but especially at this time of year when the Minnesota State Fair is open for a 12-day run.

Fate or Coincidence

MN State Fair: Cheese CurdsThis year, four Minnesota schools booked training in mid- to late-August, giving me the opportunity to visit “The Great Minnesota Get-together” for the umpteenth time! Yes, I was excited to see Bob’s Snake Zoo (where I worked a long, LONG time ago) and the 4-H displays, the Miracle of Birth barn and Machinery Hill, and to dine on BOTH cheese curds and the fresh, roasted corn on the cob.

But this year, I couldn’t wait to visit a new attraction: Math On-A-Stick*, the brainchild of educator Christopher Danielson. Inspired by the Fair’s literacy-oriented “Alphabet Forest,” Danielson approached the Minnesota State Fair Foundation to ask about hosting a similar experience with a focus on mathematics. The Foundation liked the idea and Math On-A-Stick debuted at the 2015 State Fair. Here’s a short description from the Fair’s website:

The Math On-A-Stick experience is a welcoming space where kids and grown-ups can explore fun math concepts at the fair. Play with geometric and reptile-shaped tiles to create designs and patterns. Sort, count and look for what’s the same and what’s different in groups of colored eggs on captivating cards. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the fair to enjoy a shapes or numbers book

It was wonderful to spend time at Math On-A-Stick with Christopher, volunteers staffing the exhibit and especially children so engaged by all the hands-on activities available.

Below are some images showing kids (and adults) digging into math.


Math On-A-Stick: Danielson

Cassy with Math On-A-Stick Mastermind, Christopher Danielson

Christopher Danielson is host of the Talking Math With Your Kids website and author of the forthcoming book, Which One Doesn’t Belong? (Of which I have pre-ordered and am anxiously checking the mailbox for.)

*The Minnesota State Fair is famous for the variety of food (and other things) served On-A-Stick: more than 90 vendors [link:] offered such items this year.

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Reader Survey: Help Us Help You

As the popularity and influence of Singapore Math® programs grow, so does interest in focused professional development around Singapore-based concepts.

Each month, we receive dozens of inquiries from teachers and schools seeking training to ensure that they are using the curriculum as effectively as possible. We are in the process of planning future educational programs for teachers and schools, and would love to know how we can help you!

If you are interested in learning more about Singapore Math or taking your current math teaching skills to a higher level, please take a few minutes to complete this survey.

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4,000 Teachers, 100,000 Students: Celebrating 7 Years with BER

DSC_0797 (2)In 2008, I left teaching in the classroom to champion Singapore Mathematics and expand its reach to elementary schools and children everywhere. The following year, the Bureau of Education and Research (BER) gave me an amazing opportunity to pursue this goal by presenting Singapore Math workshops throughout North America.

Some attendees at my BER seminars came with prior knowledge about the Singapore curriculum, but a bigger number were being introduced to Math from Singapore for the first time.

At a Seattle workshop earlier this year, BER’s Mark Ita surprised me (and other attendees) by presenting me with a handsome plaque, which read, in part:

In Recognition of Your Distinguished Teaching and Your Outstanding Contribution to the Education Profession

4,000 Teachers, 100,000 Students

DSC_0800 (1)The stats scribbled on a Post-It Note on the back of the plaque included some tangible data to support this statement:

  • 165 Seminars
  • 4,000 Teachers
  • Over 100,000 Students
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Cassy with BER’s Mark Ita

It is highly satisfying to know that I have impacted this number of teachers and students through my BER presentations. On the other hand, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that there are about 35.2 million Pre-K to Grade 8 students in the United States. Clearly, there is much more work to be done!

I am very grateful to BER for giving me the opportunity to present Singapore Math workshops on their behalf over the past seven years. Sincere thanks to Rich, Boyce, Mark, Nargis, Lisa and the entire travel logistics team, and the dozens of project managers who have provided encouragement and support along the way. Thank you so much!


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Oxford University Events featuring Singapore Maths (and Me!)

Photo: Pablo Fernández/Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: Pablo Fernández/Flickr Creative Commons

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be speaking at not just one, but two different international conferences at Oxford University in England this June. And I am deeply honored by the invitation to present a Keynote address at one. Here are the details:

researchED Maths and Science Conference

Saturday, June 11th, 2016 — Oxford’s Mathematical Institute

reseachED are holding an inaugural conference in Oxford aimed at primary and secondary maths and science teachers. I’ll be on a panel with Sue Lowndes and Dr. Fong Ho Kheong that will explore the implementation of the Singapore approach in non-Singaporean countries; what do we know, what we have learned and what should we do going forwards. I’ll be the representing U.S. contingent.

International Forum: Implications for UK practice in using the Singapore approach to teaching and learning in mathematics

Monday and Tuesday, June 13 – 14, 2016 — St. Anne’s College, Oxford

I will be speaking at two sessions at this conference. On Day 2, I’ll present a keynote entitled: You’ve adopted the Singapore approach to teaching mathematics – now what? Singapore maths curricula have a proven track record for meeting standards in mathematics. They can, however, be seen as a departure from prior curricula that teachers have used. This session will explore what teachers and senior leaders should consider throughout the implementation process.

I’ll also head up a workshop session, Filling in Knowledge Gaps: Critical lessons across the year groups.  Upper KS2 students (that’s ages 8 to 11 to Americans) frequently lack the foundations required in order to successfully follow the Singapore curriculum. In this ‘straight from the classroom’ session, we’ll discuss the critical lessons and concepts students must master before jumping into their year-level content.

I understand that registration is brisk at these sessions. Hope to see you there!

Link to event registration pages:

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Who to see at NCSM 2016?

Each year I attend the NCSM Annual Conference for my own personal professional development. The sessions on teacher development and coaching are invaluable! I don’t have my full schedule planned yet, but thought I’d share a few of the speakers that I make a point to see each year.

The National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics is designed for math Lead, Coaches, anyone with a commitment to improving mathematics education. Their vision is built upon the pillars of:


First off, don’t miss my session where Lauri Susi and I will be sharing the latest in Bar Model/Tape Diagram technology! It’s the last session on Monday, so plan to hang around afterward with questions.

Let’s connect! Find me via the NCSM Conference app or email: cassy (at) singaporemathsource (dot) com

April 11, 2016, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

#1706 A Picture + Technology = Understanding x 10

Lead Speaker: Cassandra Turner
Co-Presenter: Lauri Susi
Room: OCC 202

Tape Diagrams, Bar Models, and other pictorial representations sit at the intersection of CCSSM, problem solving and technology! Come solve problems from the simple to the complex, and investigate a web-based program and iPad app that will help anyone incorporate this practical and visual problem-solving strategy into their classrooms.

April 11, 2016, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM

#1101 Who Are You and What Do You Want To Create?
Lead Speaker: Lucy West

What is the most important skill you can cultivate to influence the system in which you work in positive and productive ways? Are you caught in old thinking patterns and outdated notions associated with hierarchical structures and defined roles? Do you have the skill set and the courage to speak up in ways others will listen and even act upon? When the pressures of new standards, high-stakes testing linked to student and teacher evaluations seem relentless and you are faced with tough decisions about where to focus your energy, how do you maintain your integrity yet stay in the game? Join me to reflect on what the research says is the most important condition needed for any organization to thrive.

#1102 A Curriculum Developer Looks at the Common Core and Its Testing
Lead Speaker: Zal Usiskin

The CCSSM constitute an ideal curriculum, while PARCC, SBAC, and the other tests constitute a tested curriculum. To what extent are these curricula in sync with each other and to the NCTM Standards (another ideal), and to what extent do these curricula agree with curricula in other countries?

April 11, 2016, 10:45 AM – 11:45 AM

#1203 Digital Tools and Three-Act Tasks: Marriages Made in the Cloud
Lead Speaker: Arjan Khalsa

Bring your iPad and your inquisitive mind. What do you notice? What do you wonder? How can you lead your district to use free, online tools effectively? This session features mathematical tasks with video anchors and online, virtual manipulatives. Themes will include: inquiry, rich discourse, perseverance, and authentic connections for grades 3–5.

#1207 Working in Harmony: Orchestrating Effective Parent Education
Lead Speaker: Barbara Blanke

It is critical to work in harmony with parents to support ALL students’ mathematical learning. Our coaching teams implemented informational meetings, parent coffees, Problems of the Month, and family mathematics nights to nurture parents’ understanding of the CCSSM. Receive ready-to-use resources to educate and build constructive partnerships.

April 11, 2016, 2:45 PM – 3:45 PM

#1607 Leading Change: Professional Development (PD) Moves That Promote New Ways of Thinking, Learning, and Teaching
Lead Speaker: Kim Rimbey

Meaningful PD opportunities provide time for participants to develop pedagogical content knowledge while reflecting on practice. But teachers want to walk out the door with “activities they can use tomorrow.” Join us as we examine strategic PD moves that customize and enhance presentations while layering classroom tasks with deep adult learning.

April 13: 8:45 AM – 9:45 AM

#3102 Critical Connections
Lead Speaker: Greg Tang

Teaching students to make sense of problems may be the single most important thing we can do. But what exactly does that look like? Join us as we make surprising connections between part-whole models, comparison word problems and simultaneous equations. Mathematics is amazing when it actually makes sense!

#3103 Demonstrating Understanding of Algebraic Concepts
Lead Speaker: Robyn Silbey

Other than following a series of prescribed steps, how can students show they have deep conceptual understanding? First, you’ll explore one algebraic concept that connects ideas and demonstrates true understanding. Then, leader actions and thought processes applying to daily instruction will be shared. Every student can fully understand algebra!

April 13: 11:45 AM – 12:45 AM

#3302 How to Create a Mathematics Teacher Specialist Network
Lead Speaker: Robert Kaplinsky

We have developed a thriving network of over 140 mathematics teacher specialists from five counties that regularly meets to collaborate and save time by pulling the best ideas from the group. Members state that it is the best ongoing professional development they receive. Learn how to grow one in your area and avoid potential implementation issues.

April 13: 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

#3604 Practical Suggestions for Recasting our Homework Policies and Practices
Lead Speaker: Steve Leinwand

Little in life is a greater waste of time than doing and going over mathematics homework. This session will review typical practices, available research, and propose a set of changes that result in far more impactful homework policies and practices.



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