Author: Renee Smith
Hi, I am Renee' Smith and I began teaching math in, of all places, a maximum security prison. “I was 21 years old and 99 lbs. soaking wet. Some of my students were convicted murderers and as scary as it sounds, it was incredibly sad. Many of those men had failed in the school system and then turned to crime.” That early experience with public school dropouts, cemented my resolve to help future students understand and succeed in the area of mathematics. To that end I dedicated 16 years to the classroom, teaching 5th grade math through algebra. After obtaining my Masters in Education from Baker University, I joined the ESSDACK team in 2007. I have presented at the local, state, and national levels but my most worthwhile experience at ESSDACK has been working to take the fear out of math for teachers and students alike. Although my primary focus has been providing professional development in mathematics, I also devote time to podcasting and creating materials for teachers to use in their classrooms. My podcasts include, By the Numbers, Just Desserts and Math Snacks. Working at ESSDACK has provided me the opportunity to do many of the things I love. “I have the time to research current educational practices, I get to be creative, collaborative, and I meet tons of new people."

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Common Core Math Resources

It’s a Friday evening and I have just drifted off into the loveliest dream.  I am the young and beautiful Julie Andrews falling for the dashing Christopher Plummer on the movie set of my favorite musical, “The Sound of Music”. 

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10 Things Jordyn’s Math Teacher Needs to Know About CCSS

Two months ago, Jordyn Marie was born.  Nothing can match the joy of having a child, unless it is the birth of a grandchild.  If you ask me, she is pretty darn perfect, and as a devoted Nee’Nee’ (my name

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M4: Midwest Mathematics Meeting of the Minds

I recently attended the M4 Conference in Kansas City, where math leaders from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa met to discuss the Common Core Standards for Mathematics.  I was privileged to hear from Matt Larson the keynote speaker from Lincoln,

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I Couldn’t Have Said it Better

Are You Prepared for the Common Core Standards?  This is the question posed in the latest edition of Education Week Teacher. I encourage you to read how five classroom teachers  from around the nation answered that question.  Their responses include

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Common Core Math Curriculum: How Do We Know It’s Aligned?

As more and more teachers become familiar with the common core math standards, the question that is beginning to crop up is,  “What curriculum (ie. textbook) is going to be aligned to the common core?”.  My standard response has been

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When the Stars Align

Yesterday, it was as though the stars aligned and things I have been working on for over twenty years converged and crystallized in my mind. Years ago when my children were young, I was the public speaking leader for their

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Sense Making

One of the reasons I am so passionate about basic math understanding is a beautiful 24 year old girl named Cameron.  She was a wonderful student, but in her final years of high school she struggled with math.  In a

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Deep Not Wide

For years, teachers have bemoaned the fact that they were forced to teach a mile wide and an inch deep.  The new Common Core State Standards for Mathematics are designed to reduce the number of concepts that will be taught

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New…and Improved? Assessments

When it comes to discussions of the common core, the conversation quickly turns to the question uppermost in teachers’ minds,  “What will the new state assessment look like?”   The truth of the matter is, we aren’t sure yet. Initially, the

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A Whole New Look

or teachers who are proficient at navigating their current state standards, the Common Core Standards may have a completely different look.  In the area of mathematics, the content of the document is divided into domains, clusters, and standards. Domains are

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