Moving Above and Beyond

“Practice makes perfect,” they say.  “la práctica hace al maestro,” ellos dicen.

The idea that we have to be “perfect” puts a lot of pressure on the struggling learner. It can make our kids become terrified of making mistakes, or of looking “stupid” (the S word!)  Perfection, in the end, is an impossible goal. Do you know anyone who is perfect? Intelligent, yes; successful, sure. But perfect?

La idea de que tenemos que ser “perfectos” pone mucha presión en el aprendiz que lucha. Puede hacer que nuestros hijos se aterrorizan de cometer errores, o de mirar “estúpido” (la palabra E!)  La perfección, al final, es una meta imposible. ¿Conoces a alguien que sea perfecto? Inteligente, sí; exitoso, claro. ¿Pero perfecto?

I prefer the phrase “Persistence makes progress”  Yo prefiero la frase “la persistencia hace progresos.”

Progress is a lifelong journey of learning and hard work towards gaining the benefits of being an intelligent and educated person in tomorrow’s world.

El progreso es un viaje de toda la vida de aprendizaje y trabajo duro para ganar los beneficios de ser una persona inteligente y educada en el mundo de mañana.

In our class, I give students very little homework. I know they have enough in their other classes. However, I do encourage students to go above and beyond, to stretch their thinking by bringing math into their everyday lives: reading, playing games, even watching videos or helping mom and dad with cooking or shopping. People put math to practical use in all these places.

En nuestra clase, les doy a los estudiantes muy poca tarea. Sé que tienen suficiente en sus otras clases. Sin embargo, animo a los estudiantes a ir más allá, a estirar su pensamiento trayendo las matemáticas a su vida cotidiana: leer, jugar juegos, incluso ver videos o ayudar a mamá y papá con la cocina o las compras. La gente pone matemáticas a uso práctico en todos estos lugares.

I have compiled several resource pages for parents and students. Take a look. On the main page you can find an index for your grade, and on the grade-specific page, I have broken it down by unit. Feel free to choose activities from any unit at the student’s grade level.

He compilado varias páginas de recursos para padres y estudiantes. Echa un vistazo. En la página principal usted puede encontrar un índice para su grado, y en la página específica del grado, lo he desglosado por unidad. Siéntase libre de elegir las actividades de cualquier unidad.

Above and Beyond activities allow parents to share in and support their student’s learning at home. They show me that my students take their learning seriously and choose to succeed.

Las actividades “Above and Beyond” permiten a los padres compartir y apoyar el aprendizaje de sus estudiantes en casa. Me muestran que mis alumnos toman en serio su aprendizaje y deciden triunfar.

As an extra incentive, I offer Above and Beyond points to students who complete these activities. Simply put a signed note in the student’s folder, or e-mail or text me with the following information: what activity did your child complete? (please be as specific as possible, for example: Jesús watched three Unit One math videos on You Tube. Vivian helped me bake a cake by measuring out the ingredients.”  How long did it take? I need parent confirmation that the child completed the task before awarding points.

Como incentivo adicional, ofrezco por “Above and Beyond” de los puntos a los estudiantes que completen estas actividades. Simplemente ponga una nota firmada en la carpeta del estudiante, o envíeme un mensaje de correo electrónico con la siguiente información: ¿Qué actividad completó su hijo? (por favor, sea lo más específico posible, por ejemplo: Jesús observó tres videos de matemáticas de unidad uno en You Tube. Vivian me ayudó a hornear un pastel midiendo los ingredientes.” ¿cuánto tiempo se tardaron? Necesito la confirmación de los padres de que el niño completó la tarea antes de otorgar puntos.

After earning 100 points, a student will earn an incentive/prize from my prize drawer.

Después de ganar 100 puntos, un estudiante se ganará un incentivo/premio de mi cajón de premios.


The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


Hello, friend! If you are on this site, it is likely because you are a student or the parent of a student involved in the Making Mathemagicians program.

What is “Making Mathemagicians?”
Making Mathemagicians is a program developed by Sarah Thiagarajan (through Rocketship Mosaic Elementary School) to help students who are struggling with math learn the strategies and skills they need to succeed.

Who am I?
My name is Sarah Thiagarajan, and this is my fifth year at ROMO.  I started here as a Kindergarten math teacher, and after that, convinced the principal that students here would benefit from math intervention. He agreed, and Making Mathemagicians was born.
I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and earned both my B.A. and M.A.T (Master of Arts in Teaching) at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.  I have been a teacher for 25 years, and I have a wide variety of experiences. As a substitute and a classroom teacher, I have taught every grade from Kindergarten to 12th grade.  In the state of Washington, my teaching license allowed me to teach grades K-12.  I’ve taught in many urban schools, and was also a parent volunteer at my kids’ school, running reading groups and teaching art. I worked as a GED tutor for recent immigrants, and as a substitute in many public and private schools. I taught drama workshops for kids, trained adults for jobs in the U.S. Census,  worked as a para, a speech assistant, and taught Gifted Kindergarten at a Native American Tribal school. I’ve taught for free in a homeschool co-op, and  worked at a specialty school for children with emotional and behavioral needs. Today I do math intervention at ROMO. I respect and admire children, and do my best to nurture their natural-born intelligence.

How are students chosen for the MM program?
Students are chosen after a consideration of their test scores. Initially based on the beginning of the year NWEA, and later through a combination of NWEA, unit and cumulative test scores, and teacher recommendation. Usually, the students chosen are those who fall in the 25th percentile, but occasionally I will select students between the 24th and 40th percentile to join the group, to act as “thinking partners” and, as a result, strengthen their own math skills.

What do the MM classes look like? 
Twice a week, groups of 2-5 students are pulled from Learning Lab to come to group. Groups are held at my table/learning space in the hall outside of room 214. Groups last for 30 minutes. This year, we are focusing on task-based learning, in which students work together to solve a problem. What I do is help them through the process by asking questions and gently guiding them to find the answer and explain how they got there. As we work on our tasks, we will be practicing the strategies we learned in class. We will also reinforce facts and vocabulary.

What are the expectations?
Along with school-wide behavior expectations, students are expected to apply the core values of respect, responsibility, empathy, persistence, and global citizenship to their work as well. Each student is given a folder. They are responsible for bringing this folder to every class. Inside the folder there is a pocket for things to take home, which will include newsletters, corrected work, flashcards or other things to be left at home. This side of the folder should be empty when returning to school.
On the other side of the folder are things to return to school, including an “Above and Beyond” tracker, the Facts Fluency log , and weekly homework.

At the first meeting each week (either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday), students will receive a math board page with 4-6 problems to solve. These assignments are due the following week, but may receive “Above and Beyond” points if returned early.  All homework should be complete and labeled with name and cohort. Writing must be neat and the paper should be smooth, not torn or crumpled. Students whose work is messy or late will have a point deducted from their Dojo score. Students who do not return homework at all will have two points deducted from their Dojo score. (For information on Class Dojo, see below.) It is important that the students attempt the homework on their own. If they get help, that is acceptable, but, except under extreme circumstances, the homework must be completed by the student, not a parent or sibling. Mistakes are not a bad thing; they allow me to see what I need to review and where the child needs more support.

Facts Fluency Log/Above and Beyond Tracker
Your child’s folder will have a Facts Fluency Log and an Above and Beyond sheet in the left (school) side of their folder. When your child practices flashcards or plays a fluency game on the computer, they will log the time spent on the paper, and have it signed by the parent. Students may receive Personal Points for completing minutes on their Facts Fluency Log. The Above and Beyond sheet is where the student keeps track of their points for doing math-related activities outside of class. It could include helping a sibling with math (not doing their homework for them!), doing an additional math sheet, watching YouTube math videos, or playing a math-related game. If your child completes an Above and Beyond activity, I will need a note, text, or e-mail from you confirming they did it in order for me to give them points.

What is Class Dojo?
Class Dojo is a program (Ms. Villalpando uses it, too) that gives points to students who show core values, and deducts points for those who are not making good choices. When parents connect with the program, they can receive updates on their students’ good choices. I will only be sending parents positive points, and I will contact parents personally whose children are earning negative points for poor choices.

Personal Points
Personal points are separate from daily Dojo points, but all points are added together in Dojo to allow students to earn rewards and prizes. Personal points are gained through Above and Beyond and Math Fluency Log completion.

Any Questions?
Feel free to contact me at or leave a comment below. My phone number will also be available on the newsletters I send home. I look forward to meeting you all and working with your amazing children!