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.

Wow, just wow! I love the professional learning that takes place on Twitter. If you are not using Twitter for professional development, check out this post for reasons why you should be and for tips on getting started.

I recently tweeted a blog post about the importance of taking the tricks out of math instruction, in this case, subtraction with regrouping. In response to my tweet, an online colleague directed me to a website called, where 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.



  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!


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