Cover Your Bases!

I've developed a love for a variety of number bases.

In seventh grade I was surprised to learn there was such a thing.

I had been stuck in Base Ten without knowing it.

I did basic computations by rote with very little deep comprehension.

Number bases opened my mathematical mind.

It was that insight, knowing that understanding place value...

Engaging with Numbers

Math is rich with patterns and logic.

Galileo understood and said: “The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the words are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures. Without numbers it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word and we are wandering about in a dark labyrinth.”

Together with my students we have continuously revised our basic number line and graphs through careful listening, watching and exploring.

We initially used the standard odd/even 1, 2,3, etc.  – which is insufficient! We needed leading zeros to assist with comprehending place value.

We now begin with 001 on our first day of school and progress to 176 as each school day arrives. The Friend of the Day chooses how we count. We quickly become familiar with the symbols you can see on the number line – like the Fibonacci spiral numbers, Prime numbers, and integer Square Roots. Students easily skip count by twos, threes, fours, fives, sixes, sevens, eights, nines, tens, elevens and twelves by the end of the year.

Of course we also have various number graphs, number fans, change coins, interactive place value pockets, calculators, cubes and chain links for each day in school. Because the children are in charge of these counting possibilities they are completely engaged. Sometimes math goes on for an hour at their request! No complaints!

We can also count in ASL, in Spanish and in Japanese every day! No wonder it can take an hour!

Because we learn the also Elements of the Periodic Table they are on our number line. Some students love to look up the Element on their day.

Please enjoy the following video –

Five year old William is Friend of the Day.

We have a special math unit in Base 004 called Handies. I’ll share about Handies soon!

What is Learning?

Learning is "the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught."

So let's check out knowledge acquisition: "facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject."

What my experiences in learning and teaching have offered me is...

What’s in the box?

Was it once alive? Is it made if wood? Yes. It it spherical? No. Does it have six sides? Yes, it's a cube. Does it have dots? Can you count with it? Could it be made of a different material? Glass? Plastic? Is it a wooden die? Yes!

Encouraging intriguing questions is at the heart of everyday life at Sugarwood School.

Creating and answering meaningful...

Why Bi-lingualism

There are only positives for learning multiple languages.

Here is an arrangement of a few benefits from my vantage point.

Learning two or more languages offers people, children in particular, flexible thinking skills and strategies. Knowing there are other humans speaking many different languages around the world opens our minds to a tangible feeling...

Mismatched Values

Is it valuable for our children to be learning to do things for others because it builds relationships and community? YES.

Isn't it be beautiful to hear children asking to help others for the joy of helping others? YES.

High grades, stickers, money and other extrinsic rewards doesn't make us superior, smarter, better. Nor does it make us feel...

Little Leaders

Building autonomy takes practice like everything we master. Teaching others builds our sense of autonomy like nothing else.

Before sharing the teacher role, I innocently went about the day leading everyone as I myself had been mentored.

Once I experienced sharing the leadership role, I quickly saw the necessity for sharing that powerful role. Students...


I am convinced that with optimal conditions, our capacity for learning is limitless.

The brain learns. That is it’s function.

"What" we learn needs careful attention.

We fool ourselves. Our memories are unreliable. Our ability to rationalize and believe in myths continue to impair our reasoning.

Let’s examine some key conditions that will ...

What did you learn today?

Great question but is it huge, too much, too broad?

We all want to know something about what happened while we are apart. We all want to learn more about the thoughts of the people we love. We all want to share our experiences and be heard.

What opening starters might help initiate meaningful conversations after a big day?

Slipping easily into talking...

The Language of Misconceptions

There are beliefs and stories and there are scientific realities and principles.

When we attempt scientific explanations we must take care not to use words that are specifically human:

try, want, love, like.

Stating that a stream of water likes or wants to run downhill creates monumental misconceptions.

Insisting that wind tries to rustle leaves or...