Here’s how to Close the Math Gaps…starting today!


I get asked all the time,  “How do I close math gaps?”

The answer is you’ve got to work on it a little at a time.  Although we’re in that period of time between the end of the holiday festivities and the start of the New Year, this is the perfect time to start. 

“Seriously Nicole, you make your kiddo do math over the holiday break?”

Well…yes…sorta…but just a little.  We’re going to do a few short drills each day to keep math fresh (because you know, starting from scratch after the holiday is gonna be a disaster.  It will be like my son forgot everything we learned all year long.)  So I’m going to figure out where the gaps are and start to close them.

“Nicole…but I need a break too.  What if I don’t want to do this during the holiday break?”

That’s fine.  Start it in January.  But if your kiddo is showing signs of math gaps, now is the time to catch it BEFORE it becomes a real problem.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. I’m looking at his last week or two of online grading reports and seeing which problems he got incorrect.  (If you want to follow along, log in and go to Student Reports.  If you don’t have online grading, look back at what your student did on paper and look for the trends there….then go sign up for online grading.  It will seriously change your life!)

2. For each incorrect problem, I’m writing down the concept the problem was testing.  Another way to do this is to look at the little number that’s written in parentheses under the mixed practice problem number.  That tells you the lesson it came from.  Here are the topics I found we need to work on:

  • Multiplying Decimals – he keeps trying to line up the decimals as he does in addition vs. counting how many decimal spaces he needs.
  • Creating Equivalent Fractions – he sometimes forgets the Nicoleism “what you do to the bottom, you’ve got to do to the top” part.  He just needs a little reminder here.
  • Simplifying Fractions – we’ve got some work to do here.  He has trouble picking the greatest common factor without writing them all out, so it takes him a long time to simplify.
  • Turning Improper Fractions Into Mixed Numbers – the issue here is really the simplifying of the fraction part after he divides the numbers.  So really it’s the same simplifying fractions issues.
  • Multiplying Fractions With a Whole Number – he keeps forgetting that whole numbers have a denominator of 1, meaning 5 is the same number as 5/1.  A few drills and he should be able to get this.
  1. Now I’ve got my topics.  It’s time to close the gaps.  I’m going to pick one topic today:  Simplifying Fractions.   I’m going to use two tools on the website:  One Minute Tutorials and Mastery Bank.  (These are both parts of the Premium plan and yes they are so worth the few extra bucks.) 

4. First, I head over to One-Minute Tutorials. I search for the topic in the search bar or I read through the table of contents.  Once I find the topic, I have him watch the 60-90 second tutorial (yes, it’s that quick).  He will see me explain the topic and then do an example.  If you don’t have a premium account, you could go back to the actual lesson and have them rewatch the video.

5. Now I head over to Mastery Bank.  I search for the same topic.  I type in how many problems I need.  For Simplifying Fractions, I’m going to pull up 7 problems today.  (After all, It is winter break and I’m not a scrooge.)  If you don’t have a premium account, you could create some problems yourself or Google a math worksheet on the topic.

6. I’m thinking these 7 problems might take him 30 minutes.  I know he can handle that.  Tomorrow I’ll pull up 5 problems and add on the mixed numbers.

Again, if you don’t want to do this over break, start back this way in January.  Close math gaps now.  It’s okay to get off the train tracks for a week and handle gaps before they become a bigger issue.  This will empower your student and give them the skills they need to feel good at math.

Hope you are enjoying the peace (and chaos) this time of year brings.

With love,

Nicole the Math Lady 


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hello Nicole!!!!!!!!!! How’s it going. I have major math gaps and my mom is plain worn out with trying to help me!!!!!!! I want it be more enjoyable and easier for her!!!!