ASCD 2015 Conference

Big Ideas Math will be exhibiting at this year’s Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference in Houston, TX from March 21st – 23rd. If you are attending, stop by and visit us in booth #927. We’ll have great giveaways as well as information and samples on our NEW Integrated High School Series debuting at NCTM Boston in April.

 We look forward to seeing you at the conference!



Have You Got Your Homework?

Our wonderful consultants make this job amazing. We sat down with Big Ides Learning Consultant, Mary Quadrini to have a go on the topic that every teacher deals with – homework. Mary offered some great advice:

Mention math class and invariably the subject of homework will surface. In no other course in school is homework assigned as regularly as in mathematics. If you Google “Math Homework Help”, you will get more than 27 million hits! Parents, students, and teachers all have strong opinions about it.


Does Homework Help Student Achievement?

Research studies are divided on this matter, but generally, students in grades 6-12 benefit the most from completing homework assignments. A good deal of that achievement is tied to the type of assignment students are given and how they feel about their ability to complete it. For students in grades K-6, student achievement gains are less reliable because it is often difficult to determine who is doing the work. A recent study on math homework in the Journal of Advanced Academics provides some new guidance for math teachers: It’s not the amount of time students spend on homework that is important in raising achievement, but the sense of self-efficacy they develop while carrying out assignments


What Homework Should Teachers Assign?

The most important thing to remember when choosing a homework assignment is to assign what students can do.  Homework is practice of the skills and concepts that students have learned in class, under your instruction.  Your classroom is where the productive struggle with math concepts should be done, not at home, where both parents and students become frustrated.  Keep the assignment short and sweet. Homework should never compensate for a poorly planned lesson (“finish this for homework”).  Sending students home with an assignment they fail to understand only starts the cycle of spending too much precious class time reteaching the concepts students never mastered in the first place.

Most teachers rely on the exercises in their textbook or practice pages for homework.  Some teachers are adamant about not assigning odd-exercises from the text as they usually provide the answers, while others insist that students have access to the answers.  One such teacher is Marlo Warburton, from Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley, CA.  She assigns only a handful of questions, with a mix of skills, conceptual understanding and application and requires her students to check the answers.  Then they must work to justify the answers given in the book, showing the process needed to get to the answer.  She has them self-assess their success on answering the questions, noting whether they got the answer correct before checking the answer, after checking the answer or not at all.  I like this process as it puts the onus of learning, not completing, on to the students.  Students have a period of time during which they may “fix” their homework, once they have understood the process of obtaining the solution.  You may read more about Marlo’s technique for homework in the March 2014 issue of NCTM’s Mathematics Teacher.

Another teacher used the concept of a course syllabus to issue a week’s worth of differentiated homework assignments to students.  Assignments categories were Basic, On Level and Advanced.  She gave students choices and suggested they work with other students on the assignments.  Often, when given a choice, students remarkably aim higher than we would have thought they would, especially when encouraged.

It is important that the homework assigned to students be perceived by students as attainable and relevant to what they are learning.  Incorporating the use of technology can be especially useful.  One Big Ideas Math teacher gave her middle school students an assignment to pick a game from our Game Closet to teach to his/her family and write a paragraph about why they liked the game.  Another teacher asked students to read the next lesson in the textbook online and take advantage of the video tutorials built into the online text.

One of my colleagues always had students write a short paragraph about their homework experience during the week.  She asked them if they were able to catch any mistakes they made.  She asked them to describe what they do when they were stuck on a problem (study buddy, using tutorials, family friends, etc.)  This self-reflection helps students develop good study habits that will support them beyond your class.


What Should Teachers Do With Homework?

Remember, homework is practice on what students have learned in class.  Putting high grading values on homework only asks for trouble (copying, struggling to write anything on the HW paper.)  Students should have their homework ready at the start of class.  I always collected it just to get it off their desks and to help students focus on the lesson’s work.  Homework reflects students’ efforts to learn and to acquire fluency.

Having students check each other’s work in class provides an added benefit to students in that they must defend the processes they chose to solve problems.  The more they talk to each other about the mathematics they are doing, the better they will retain it.

Homework is an integral part of learning.  The more confident students are about being able to complete a homework assignment, the more likely they will complete it.  Making assignments accessible, relevant and engaging will help students achieve in mathematics.  The more students do, the less the dog has to eat!


What do you think about Homework and what Mary had to say? Let us know in the comments below.


Big Ideas Learning Conference Recap: NCTM 2014

We had a fabulous time exhibiting Big Ideas Math at the NCTM  2014 Annual Meeting in New Orleans last week. We would like to thank all of you that visited our booth, shared your stories and brightened our days with your Big Ideas Math experiences and love for the book and program that we work to provide you with. It was fantastic to hear such enthusiasm surrounding Big Ideas Math from amazing educators and professionals at the conference.

This year we debuted our new High School Series.

 We received an abundance of praise and excitement from current Big Ideas Math users, and excitement from those that were new to the program. A lot of attendees were eager to get copies so that they could start using them in their classroom.

In addition to our new books, we also show cased our Dynamic Technology which features STEM videos found in the High School Series and our Dynamic Assessment and Progress Monitoring Tool.

On Friday, April 11th Dr. Ron Larson had a book signing at National Geographic Learning and Cengage Learning’s booth where he gave away t-shirts, signed books, and posters. In addition to the book signing, Big Ideas authors Dr. Ron Larson and Dr. Laurie Boswell signed books at the Big Ideas Learning booth. Many that came were very appreciative of both authors commitments to education.

 For more pictures from NCTM, click here

We had a fantastic time at NCTM in New Orleans. We look forward to NCTM in Boston in 2015. How was your time at NCTM? Let us know in the comments!

Big Ideas Learning Debuts NEW Websites!

Big Ideas Learning is excited to announce the debut of our website,, and the redesign of

Currently, when a visitor goes to he or she is redirected to the Big Ideas Math companion website, Beginning on Saturday, April 5th, will now feature information about the Big Ideas Math program, Big Ideas Learning Professional Development, and the Big Ideas Math Blog.

To coincide with this release we have also updated the Big Ideas Math companion website. The new website will feature a sleeker design, but will include the same functionality and familiarity of the current website to allow teachers and students continued ease and access.

To access all of your Big Ideas Math program resources, choose your role from the homepage OR select the “Teachers” or “Students” tab.

From the teacher view, once you are logged in, you will have full access to the Dynamic Classroom and all of the other resources on the website in the same area you have become accustomed to.

Students can login to access the Dynamic Student Edition or can view the Easy Access Home Edition without a username and password.

Thank you for being a Big Ideas Math program user and we look forward to continuing to provide you with the latest technological resources to enhance your 21st century classroom experience.



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As always, the Big Ideas Learning technical support team is here to assist you if you need any additional guidance.You can contact technical support from 8:00am to 5:00pm EST Monday through Friday by calling (877) 552-7766.

You can also e-mail technical support 24 hours a day by visiting A member of our support team will reply within 24 hours.

Big Ideas Learning: Social Media Recap – March

As this month raps up and we look to April, you may not have had a chance to catch up or see our great links, pictures, and posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Big Ideas Learning recaps content posted throughout the month of February in this month’s Social Media Recap.


  1. Big Ideas Learning Leadership Conference & Recap“I wanted to share a funny story… Tonight, I showed my new Big Ideas T-shirt to my boys that are in 3rd grade and 10th grade.  Immediately, they both shouted out their answers to how many 1/2′s are in 1/4.  The 10th grader shouted out ‘2’ and the 3rd grader shouted out ‘that’s easy, 1/2!’
  2. 69th Annual ASCD Conference & Exhibit In Los Angeles, California. - “This year we offered a sneak peek of our NEW High School Series (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2) making its official debut at NCTM in April.”
  3. Big Ideas Math 3-Tier RTI Model – “The Big Ideas Math program completely supports the 3-tier model. Using research-based instructional strategies, Big Ideas Math helps teachers reach, challenge, and motivate each student utilizing the three tiers.”
  4. Larson Texts, Inc. and Big Ideas Learning, LLC Receive Awards from the Text and Academic Authors Association – “Big Ideas Math: A Common Core Curriculum 2nd ed., by Dr. Ron Larson and Dr. Laurie Boswell, has received the Textbook Excellence Award (“Texty”) recognizing excellence in current textbook and learning materials in their 2nd edition or later.”

We’re on Instagram! Follow us @BigIdeasMath

Helpful links/articles:

  1. How to get reluctant children to embrace math
  2. Why 5-Year-Old Kids Can Do Algebra
  3. A Math Teacher Explains So-Called “New Math”
  4. Math: Make Your Career Count
  5. 20 Signs You’re Actually Making A Difference As A Teacher

Upcoming: NCTM Annual Meeting & Exposition – New Orleans

On April 9-12th, 2014, Big Ideas Learning will debut it’s High School Series at NCTM Annual Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans. If you’re heading to the meeting, be sure to stop by booth #1718 to talk with authors Ron Larson and Laurie Boswell, our mathematicians, consultants and Big Ideas Learning team. We can’t wait to see you at the conference!