Resource Alert: Nix the Tricks!

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

It’s time to take the tricks out of math instruction! Research shows that when students are taught for understanding, rather than with tricks, they retain the content better. A great example is subtraction with regrouping, which is often taught with little or no connection to place value. Maybe this sounds great to you, and you’re just wondering where to start.

Let me introduce you to On their website, you can download an absolutely free resource, Nix the Tricks, that outlines the most popular “tricks” used to teach math and provides suggestions for the correct way to teach each skill. It is a collaborative effort between high school math teacher Tina Cardone and MTBos, an online math community. It is updated frequently, so be sure to sign up for their emails. The even have a Facebook page!

nix the tricks

Download the PDF version of Nix the Tricks here



  1. Tatum Bunker

    I’ve always believed students must deeply understand the math skills first. Then later on, they will be able to know why the “tricks” work. Thanks for this post! ~T

    • Kimberly Goldsby

      I am interested to learn more about your research based theory.

  2. Noura

    I hate tricks. I wish teachers would stop using them.They are insulting. Students are always ready for deeper instructional opportunities. We don’t need to underestimate their abilities; instead, we need to make ourselves more comfortable with the concepts we’re teaching.

    • Colleen Stumpf

      I am having to unteach material because the concepts were lost when a prior teacher used tricks to “get through the book” before testing. It does not do anything to help the student.

      • Donna Boucher

        I was a 5th-grade teacher for years, so I feel your pain. It’s a huge disservice to teach students tricks.

  3. Pam Hamilton

    After 32 years in the classroom, this book is a breath of fresh air! I love the concrete then pictorial then abstract methodology for teaching math, and the strategies in this book are perfect for this. Thanks for sharing, Donna! I couldn’t teach math in grades three through six without you!

    • Donna Boucher

      Thank you for the kind words, Pam! And I couldn’t agree with you more about Nix the Tricks. I felt as if I had found a treasure when I first saw it!

  4. Jennifer Sterling

    How do I get a copy of this?


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