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  • Lesson 1-2: Discussion Prompt

  • Kyle Pearce

    May 1, 2019 at 11:39 am

    After watching the video in Lesson 1-2 answer:

    What are the characteristics of students in

    • The “good at math” group
    • The “poor at math” group; and,
    • common amongst any in both of these groups?


  • Gretchen Burch

    January 28, 2021 at 3:18 am

    “good” seek understanding, fast thinkers, multiple strategy approach to a problem

    “poor” slow thinkers, struggled to understand, single strategy approach to a problem

    common among many in both groups: want to understand, are capable of doing the mathematics, want positive feedback, trouble thinking on their own

  • Robert Barth

    January 28, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    Good at math: Willing to try, not afraid to make a mistake, willing to talk ideas out with group members

    Poor at math: afraid to be wrong, so therefore will not attempt, thinks asking for help is a sign of weakness

    Common in both groups: The both know more than the think

    • Kyle Pearce

      January 29, 2021 at 6:47 am

      Love the commonality you shared! So true… students are constantly doubting when they are full of ideas, tools, and strategies that they can use to help them problem solve.

  • Stephen Prince

    January 29, 2021 at 11:29 pm


    Want high grades to impress parents/peers

    Good at answering teacher questions (as questions are targeted and differentiated)

    Could have neat workbook

    Could be competent at other subjects (knowledge is domain specific)

    Unresilient (even some top pupil struggle when first reach a challenge)

    Good student:



    Good pre-requisite knowledge

    Can follow instructions

    Retains most of new knowledge practiced in class

    Clear workings shown with an understanding that method is equally important as the solution

    Poor student:


    Poor attention

    Poor pre-requisite knowledge

    Struggles to follow simple instructions

    Can do many of tasks in class but struggles to retain most of new knowledge practiced in class

    Thinks the only important thing is the answer

    • Kyle Pearce

      January 30, 2021 at 6:30 am

      Thanks for sharing! The commonality that jumped out at me was the lack of resilience that both groups tend to demonstrate. We often get tricked into thinking that some of our successful students are resilient, however when we challenge them, they quickly shut down – sometimes throwing more of a stink than students who have struggles.

  • Trina Gratrix

    January 31, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    “Good At Math Students”:

    -are confident

    -have good problem solving strategies

    -have a growth mindset

    -know how to advocate for themselves

    -have been successful in the past

    “Not Good at Math” students:

    -lack confidence

    -struggle with solving

    -do not feel successful

    -have a fixed mindset

    -struggle to ask questions when stuck

    -easily shut down

    -can be behavior problems in class

    -are difficult to engage

    Students in both categories:

    -need support

    -deserve good and thoughtful feedback

    -are students who deserve the best from the class

    -are capable of learning

    • Kyle Pearce

      February 1, 2021 at 7:16 am

      Great list here!

      Something I often ask during this lesson is about whether some of the items listen in the “not good at math” group might also apply in the “good at math” group? In particular, do we have enough information to know for certain?

      Often I find that I make assumptions about the “good at math” group simply because I haven’t witnessed characteristics that I see in the “not good” group. Then I wonder whether I’ve ever put the “good” group through a similar level of struggle as compared to the “not good” group. What are your thoughts?


    February 1, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    Good at math group: often like routine, are good with math facts, like to please others/adults

    Poor at math group: often need more wait time; may not respond to the routine, may not see the point, maybe asks a lot more “what if” questions that seem off topic to most people

    Common: want to feel good about class, a mix of introverts (like to follow step or just be left alone) and extroverts (in a group setting wanting to share their thinking/wanting to just talk)

  • Gail Offstein-Sajo

    February 1, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    I don’t like the stereotype… I feel similarly to to Amalia.

    I used to think that to be good in Math meant to answer questions quickly and correctly all the time. I was not good at Math: I learn slowly and ask questions about my learning. Now, I think that deeper learning is more important. I also think many of our students are not so quick in mastering western learning styles. I work with Indigenous students and their families, many of whom are very adept in Math and in traditional ways of knowing, often times not computing with their non-Indigenous teachers.

    All children are good at Math, at problem-solving and helping each other to be “successful”… the problem is not that children are grouped in either “good” or “not” categories… all belong in the middle (in my mind). The issue is that someone or the system slowed their learning down…maybe to a crawl. Providing interesting, open-ended, non-linear, non-procedure-driven experiences is the key here. Unfortunately, too many of us have spent our lives working within a safe box, and so are unprepared to take the risk that students can solve problems to great depth and breadth if we just let them do it. Parents and teachers sometimes are the worst offenders for inculcating procedural, one-solution, do-it-my-way thinking… not what we need as a model for 21 Century learning.

  • Teresa Corbo

    February 1, 2021 at 7:37 pm

    The “good ” math students have good memorization and recall skills . They come to me with good math skills. They are good rule followers. They may see math the same as the teachers. “Poor ” math students do not share their ideas so they are not validated.

    They both want to succeed and they both may not remember things long term.

  • Lena Tunon

    February 1, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    good at math: established habits of perseverance/growth mindset, accustomed to praise/success, outspoken/confident

    poor at math: gives up easily, not articulate, gaps in automaticity/understanding

    common: curiosity, positive feelings after successful moments

  • Scott McNutt

    February 3, 2021 at 12:36 am

    Interesting Venn Diagram because I have seen students transfer from one end to the other through out the year. For example, Students will show qualities of a Bad math student during linear functions, but will then show qualities of a good math student during quadratics.

    Good Math Student Group:

    • Can Solve, justify, and model problems
    • Faster at calculations
    • Family support is strong
    • Will lead discussions and have higher engagement in small groups
    • Will Question
    • Learn from Failures

    Common Math Student Group:

    • Can grow to be better math problem solvers
    • Have ideas to share
    • Desires Success
    • Love Positive feedback and needs encouragement to thrive

    Bad Math Student Group:

    • Get stuck when multiple steps/calculations are involved
    • Fear of Mistakes
    • Dwell on failure
    • Not likely to ask questions
    • Fear of perception of their intelligence
  • Nathan Vaillancourt

    February 3, 2021 at 8:21 am

    I think it’s worth mentioning again that which students are in which group often comes down to teacher perception, along with the characteristics that we use to classify them. Many times how we would classify students isn’t how they would classify themselves.

    “Good” math students: complete the homework, good math facts recall, compliant

    “Bad” math students: don’t do the homework, struggle with mental math

    Common to both: a desire to be successful. Nobody wants to fail at something, but the traditionally “bad at math” students have had so little success that they’ve often resigned themselves to that fact and so can appear apathetic.

    • Jon Orr

      February 5, 2021 at 6:30 am

      So true @nathan-vaillancourt We’re the ones putting the labels on them based on our own definitions! It’s good we recognize this!

  • Michelle Grebe

    February 3, 2021 at 10:48 am

    Good at math:

    – they get it, understand some important relationships of concepts

    – they have built confidence in their math abilities, see themselves as a math person

    Poor at math:

    – have not engaged in the mathematical processes

    – do not understand the math instruction and examples

    – missed some needed background

    – think they are simply not smart in math (not a math person)

    Common to both:

    – intellectually capable of understanding

    – both groups benefit from concrete models and visual representations of math concepts

    – both benefit from taking steps from what they already know to extend to a new problem

  • John Gaspari

    February 3, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Good at Math

    • able to follow algorithms
    • know their math facts
    • can manipulate numbers
    • confident

    Bad at Math

    • can’t use or follow steps in an algorithm
    • don’t know their math facts
    • struggle working with numbers
    • easily frustrated

    Common to Both

    • use strategies to make sense of numbers
    • want to do better in math
    • can see math in a visual way
    • become embarrassed if they don’t understand a math concept
    • love praise and feedback
    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  John Gaspari.
    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  John Gaspari.
  • Laura Las Heras Ruiz

    February 7, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    Good at math:

    • High logical thinking.

    • Confident solving problems

    • Confident to be able to understand things after if they don’t understand at the first time.

    • Don’t afraid to solve problems

    • Understanding deeply the rules of math.

    Poor at math

    • Difficulties or very slow understanding logical things.

    • Not confident with new math situations.

    • Not confident to be able to resolve problems

    • Not interested in math.

    • Difficulties to maintain the concentration.

    • MÀGIC THINKING: they don’t understand the rules or they don’t feel able to understand them, So, they just memorise the rules and they use them if they remember, if not, everything are possible to do.

    Common characteristics

    • They can be hard workers or not.

    • I’m sure that their brain is really similar so they should be able to learn math.

    • Both are in the trouble of teenager.

    • Jon Orr

      February 8, 2021 at 5:59 am

      Hey @laura.las heras ruiz Good list here. I feel that this one:-

      MÀGIC THINKING: they don’t understand the rules or they don’t feel able to understand them, So, they just memorise the rules and they use them if they remember, if not, everything are possible to do.

      might belong in the both column. I was a memorizer and had a hard time understanding what I was doing, but I was considered good at math.

      • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  Jon Orr.
      • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  Jon Orr.
  • Kay Walder

    February 8, 2021 at 11:07 pm

    Good at Math- confident problem solvers, motivated and devoted, has grit, hopeful

    Poor at Math- not confident problem solvers, vocabulary and previous concepts are weak or nonexistent, gives up quickly, no grit, no hope, does not see a purpose in learning math

    Common- both make mistakes, both need to solve problems to learn, both need to ask questions and be curious, both need to actively listen, both need to struggle to learn

  • Holly Blahun

    February 9, 2021 at 3:36 pm


    • Practice
    • Take notes


    • Practice & correct mistakes (check answers)
    • Make note of what they don’t understand to review or ask for help later
    • Attempt a solution
    • Ask questions when unsure


    • Practice, but don’t check answers – or don’t correct if checked and wrong
    • Give up without trying
    • Sit quietly when struggling

    I tried very hard to keep external factors out of this list (family support, health.. etc). Also, if I could think of a counterexample student, I’d leave it out (Bad – don’t know math facts; I know some very smart math kiddos that are poor at their multiplication facts). Much of what I listed fits more into Good/Bad students rather than Good/Bad @ math.

  • Jeremy Lewis

    February 9, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    There’s a lot of good ideas on here. I’m more interested in the common attributes of both types of students, as I’m hypothesizing that we will learn to use that to our advantage. So from what I can think of, both groups have the following in common:

    – Enjoy talking about personal interests

    – Enjoy making decisions that have consequences (ex. gamification)

    – Show most growth when working within their zone of proximal development

  • Cathy Honness

    February 12, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Good at Math: Number sense, see a purpose for Math, confidence, parental positivity and support, organization and structure, mindset of overcoming failure in order to try again.

    Poor at math: avoidance tactics, lack of confidence, lack of prior knowledge, very little grit and perseverance, lack of organization

    Both: curiosity at the beginning, influenced by prior experiences with Math, established mindsets–whether good or poor and age-appropriate learner characteristics

    • Kyle Pearce

      February 13, 2021 at 7:15 am

      Thanks for the great share!

      I wonder re: good at math and number sense… is it known facts or is it a true ability to reason with numbers (or maybe both?)

  • Kathleen Bourne

    February 14, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    “Good” like rules, can and will memorize and apply them.

    “Bad” think that they’re missing the “magic math gene”, it’s not likely they feel, that they can learn, so they copy each other,the teacher, the internet.

    Both groups want to succeed, find the right answers.

  • Grace Evans

    February 16, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    As a coach, I hear teachers talk about their high school students not knowing their multiplication tables, and listing that as a reason students can’t factor quadratics. Or, “they can’t add and subtract, so we can’t work on solving equations.” It’s a perception I’m starting to call the “math as a stack of bricks” mentality: if an earlier brick is missing or weak, you can’t stack anything on top of it.

  • Grace Evans

    February 16, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    I’m taking this course as a coach. I taught the way you encourage teachers to teach, because I was trained in the way of Magdalene Lampert, Deborah Ball, and “that kind of teaching”. Now I manage a team of 13 teachers in grades 7-12, and I’m trying to figure out how to change their minds about math and math class. How do you get teachers to see themselves as the droning teacher in the meerkat video….and then do something different?

  • Helen Calaway

    February 24, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Good at Math: Work quickly, generally don’t want to be wrong, work better alone, are better at completing rote practice problems

    Bad at Math: Work slowly, dread going to math, anxiety about testing, have many missing assignments,

  • Breanna Greer

    December 13, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    Good at math: Seek understanding, not afraid to fail, motivated, multiple strategy approach to a problem

    Poor at math: Afraid to fail, struggles to understand, unmotivated, single strategy approach to a problem

    Both: Want to understand, are capable of doing the math, want positive feedback

  • Kerri Brodie

    January 4, 2022 at 8:12 pm

    Good at Math: work hard/persevere; answer questions in class; ask questions; feel confident in their abilities; have good number sense; want to understand why things work the way they do

    Poor at Math: give up easily and get frustrated; don’t like to speak up in class; afraid to ask for help; have trouble making connections; just want to be told how to do problems

    Common to Both: Want to do well; don’t like to make mistakes; think there’s one right answer or way to do things in math

    • Kyle Pearce

      January 5, 2022 at 7:18 am

      Thanks for sharing your ideas here with the group!

  • Stephanie Pritchett

    January 18, 2022 at 12:58 pm

    “Good” – Know their math facts, fast at math, can follow procedures, rules

    “Poor”- Don’t have math facts memorized, slower at math, get confused or can’t remember rules

    “Both’- Math applicable to both, curiosity, like to have fun

  • Michelle Grebe

    February 3, 2021 at 10:56 am

    Good points! I resonate with the characteristics you shared.

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