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Unified School District of De Pere


Welcome to MathMinds: A Resource for De Pere K-4 Parents

Have you ever said to family or friends, “I’m just not a math person.”  Many of us have. But the reality is adults are all “math people” to some extent….whether you’re calculating your grocery bill or designing a highway. Math is part of everyday life. What’s more, math is vital for our children to thrive-- academically, professionally, financially and socially-- in a rapidly changing world.

That’s why today’s math curriculum, and how math is taught, has changed. Today’s math might look different from what you experienced as a student, but the world is much different too. Math education has evolved to better prepare your child to graduate from high school, get into college, pursue a technical/trade career or forge a different route. No matter what path your child pursues in life, math skills are vital. 

We’ve created this page as a resource for you to learn more about today’s K-4 math program in the Unified School District of De Pere. We’ll  post regular updates with ways you can assist us in making every student a “math person!”

Creating a Math Mindset

Today’s K-4 math is designed to achieve a positive mindset about math. It’s everywhere! It’s used everyday! It can be fun and interesting even if you don’t “get it right” the first time, because there are lots of ways to get to the right answer. Yes, we still learn numbers, equations and more. But we also put into context why these skills matter.

Here’s an example: in a second grade classroom, two apples plus two apples still equals four apples. But the teacher asks students to go a step further: how many apples would we need for everyone in the classroom?  If every apple costs 10 cents, how much money would we need to buy one for each person? Teachers might use number lines, manipulatives (blocks/other small items) or other tools to help students work through these questions. 

You might also notice an emphasis on group learning. That’s because working in teams is a proven way to generate ideas, build understanding and encourage creative problem-solving. It’s likely you’ve experienced this with your own job or in other real-life settings. Developing a range of logical problem-solving skills-- a key component of today’s K-4 math instruction-- can help reduce frustration students might experience as their academic work in all subjects becomes more complex. 

Be Engaged in Your Child’s Math Education

If you’re confused about how or what your children are learning, we hope you’ll continue to visit this page. And don’t hesitate to talk with your student’s teachers. Teachers know parents have a lot of questions about math instruction, and they are eager to provide answers. Plus, they can share strategies to use at home that support your child’s math skills and confidence. We believe every child is capable of succeeding in math and are working hard to make it happen!


Click any of the titles below to see our latest MathMinds posts, and links to additional resources.

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Meet Jo Boaler, Dedicated to Improving Math Education

Jo Boaler is an education author and The Nomellini-Olivier Professor of Mathematics Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Boaler is involved in promoting mathematics education reform and equitable mathematics classrooms. She is the co-founder and faculty director of youcubed, a Stanford center that provides mathematics education resources to teachers, students and parents. She is the author of nine books, including Limitless Mind (2019), Mathematical Mindsets (2016), What's Math Got To Do With It? (2009) and The Elephant in the Classroom (2010), all written for teachers and parents with the goal of improving mathematics education.


12 Tips to Unlock Your Child’s Math Abilities

  1. Never praise children by telling them they are “smart.”
  2. Never share stories of math failure or even dislike.
  3. Always praise mistakes and say that you are really pleased that your child is making them.
  4. Encourage children to work on problems that are challenging for them, so that they can make mistakes.
  5. When you help your children, do not lead them through work step by step, as this takes away important learning opportunities for them.
  6. Encourage drawing whenever you can.
  7. Encourage students to make sense of math at all times.
  8. Encourage students to think flexibly about numbers.
  9. Never time children or encourage faster work.
  10. When children answer questions and get them wrong, try and find the logic in their answers – as they have usually used some logical thinking.
  11. Give children math puzzles.
  12. Play games, which are similarly helpful for children’s mathematical development.

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Want to know more? Check out this link:

Raj ShahMental Math and Understanding Math Concepts (Feb. 17, 2020)
Meet Dr. Raj Shah. He’s the founder of Math Plus Academy, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) enrichment program for kids ages 5 – 14. Shah has a doctorate in physics from the University of Illinois, and spent a decade in research and development at computer chip maker Intel Corp. In 2008, he left Intel to found the Math Plus Academy-- driven by his passion for math and research that shows newer models of teaching are more effective for more students.
“We didn’t teach students to think. We just taught them to do,” he says.
Research shows memorizing algorithms only worked for a small group of learners. Today, we have instant access to computing devices that are faster and more consistently accurate. So teaching kids to think about and understand math concepts is a high priority. Mental math and deep understanding of concepts are more important than memorized procedures.
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Want to know more? Watch Dr. Shah's video