Author Archives: Elizabeth Gamino

Changing the Narrative

Many times, we hear phrases from teachers and students such as “I am not good at math.” “Math was (is) a very hard subject for me.” It has become socially acceptable to say, “I hate math!” Why do some people have these limiting beliefs of themselves as doers or learners of mathematics?

For the past year, my colleagues and I have worked diligently with teachers and young children with the goal of changing the narrative from a negative perception to a positive one that promotes statements such as “I love math!” “I enjoy being given challenging problems in which to think about,” and “I consider myself a mathematician.”

My personal goal is to have our earliest learners see the beauty of mathematics from the onset of their educational careers and it is my hope that I can change the math narrative of adults as well.

So how do we do this? Perhaps these quotes can help those who are math phobic, or just a bit apprehensive, change their existing beliefs and mindsets about themselves as learners and doers of mathematics, change their math story, and possibility change their lives.

As a learner of mathematics, we must be open to the fact that the mathematics we encounter may be hard, we may experience frustration, we may even want to give up. If we acknowledge this discomfort we will be more likely to persevere and see ourselves as learners and doers of mathematics.


If we can face our fears of math, whether a concept or a course, head on, with courage and an “I can do it” attitude, the better the chances that fear you overcame can be the driving focus (courage) to push yourself further on your mathematical journey.






So many times, we give up (exercising daily, eating healthy, taking higher level math courses) not because we are weak, but because of the feelings we experienced while engaged in the activity. Consider ways to take those feelings and use them as the catalyst to try just one more time.




As an early learning advocate, it is my hope, my calling, to create the conditions that promote early learning math experiences via play. Let’s consider how rich play experiences allow children to be risk-takers, and how we, the adults, can offer encouragement, pose open-ended questions, and open a world full of possibilities for children to explore. “Play is serious work!”



I would venture to say this is a quote many are familiar with. So, as you think of your upcoming math lessons, what might you do to create conditions that promote active learning, those in which students are physically, mentally, and emotional engaged in to change the narrative, shaping the brains of our future mathematicians?



As you may have read in my previous blogs, I like using quotes to begin conversations. If any of these five resonated with you I invite you to start a conversation with me and other readers by leaving a comment or posing a question.

Together we can change our math stories and the math stories of children with whom we work.

Let’s change the narrative together.


The Gift of Play

“When you ask me what I did in school today and I say, ‘I just played,’ please don’t misunderstand me. For you see, I am learning as I play. I am learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. Today I am a child and my work is play.” – Anita Wadley, 1974. The… Continue Reading

Quotes to Spark Conversations

In early September AIMS had the honor of hosting a breakfast for the teachers we are working with this year. It was a time to come together, form friendships, share our goals for the year, and, of course, engage in some mathematics. As an ice-breaker we had the teachers engage in an activity called “Chalk… Continue Reading

Thinking About Children’s Thinking

Over the last month, for the start of the school year, my AIMS Center colleagues and I have had the privilege of working with teachers and observing the interactions of 3- and 4-year-old children, something our team has done for the last two years. As we observe these little ones, we have learned how to… Continue Reading

Tell Me How You Really Feel About Math

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of presenting to over 300 early learning professionals on what is really becoming my passion, the idea of mathematizing children’s environments and making connections between the math they experience while at school and the math that they experience in their daily lives. Though I would love to… Continue Reading

I Wonder

As I write this blog on a hot, sultry day in July, I can’t help but wonder what my friends in education are doing during their final days of summer vacation. Are they relaxing by a pool? Are they at the beach? Are they vacationing somewhere in the United States or abroad? Are they attending… Continue Reading

Count Anything and Everything

A few weeks ago, I was walking across campus and found myself counting the number of steps it had taken me to get from our office to the campus bookstore. After realizing what I had unconsciously done, I purposely counted my steps on my return trip to check for accuracy and, to my surprise, I… Continue Reading

Mathematizing ~ Counting Stories

Mathematizing defined by Allen Rosales is “the process of understanding math within the context of children’s daily lives”. Last weekend, while cleaning my garage, I came across three lesson plan books from when I taught Kindergarten and First grade. Why I hadn’t gotten rid of them earlier, I don’t know.  Rather than immediately tossing them… Continue Reading

Do You Possess the Math Gene?

Do you consider yourself a math minded person? Did you struggle with math in school? Do you feel stressed when calculating tips or splitting a restaurant bill? Did you choose the early learning grades to teach because of your feelings toward math? If any of these questions resonated with you, it’s okay.  It’s not a… Continue Reading

Children Are Natural Mathematicians

In my last BLOG, I wrote about mathematizing our young children’s worlds. No sooner had I written and submitted my BLOG for posting, that my grandnephew came over to visit. Isaac is 3 years old and very shy, but when he decides to talk, he doesn’t stop. This little guy loves to build and create… Continue Reading