Unpacking Dyscalculia/MLD, the Science of Math, and Effective Math Instruction

Cuisenaire rods are an effective tool for multi-sensory, systematic math instruction.

Are your students struggling with math? Are you struggling with how to best teach it?

Take a deep breath and relax… you are in the right place.

Based on my 10+ years of experience in K-8 math and special education, I strongly believe the reason so many students are struggling with math is because the methods we have traditionally used are misaligned with how the brain actually learns.

Research in the science of math shows that we have an innate ability to subitize, or see small quantities and just know how many there are without counting. This visual ability is housed in the right hemisphere of the brain, while language and symbolic representations are housed in the left hemisphere.

Methods used successfully for decades in teaching students with dyscalculia demonstrate that strengthening this subitizing ability is at the heart of what is needed to develop number sense and further mathematical skills. 

Yet most math curriculums are missing the mark! They focus on visual representations that emphasize counting, rather than subitizing, along with a heavy load of language and symbolic forms that do not yet have meaning to students.

Interested in learning more?

Decoding Math

Decoding Math is our signature teacher training program. It begins with laying groundwork in the science of math, dyscalculia, and math learning disabilities, then moves into effective instructional approaches, tools, and methodology for developing number sense, addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, and fractions. The training concludes with a deep dive into math assessments, planning effective math interventions, and writing the math-related components of IEPs.

What is Decoding Math? Decoding Math is an approach to instruction that first and foremost is aligned with the science of teaching and learning. Next, it uses effective visual representations and tools like dot patterns and Cuisenaire rods to develop conceptual understanding and efficient strategies. Third, it uses a methodology that is explicit, systematic, multisensory, and cumulative in nature. Put together, this approach can be thought of as Structured Numeracy.

What people are saying about the Decoding Math course

“I’m finishing up this class and I wanted to say THANK YOU!!! I have been teaching for over 15 years and this is by far the most comprehensive, informative, and helpful course I have taken. There is so little information and support out there for teaching math to kids with disabilities and this class was so valuable. The videos were especially helpful.”

-Lara Holman, Middle School Intervention Specialist, Upper Arlington Schools, Ohio

View more testimonials

Course At-A-Glance

Learn about the science of math, dyscalculia, and math learning disabilities, and how math instructional approaches that are aligned with neuroscience can create better learning for all. In this course you will discover manipulatives and instructional methodology that ensure everyone can learn and love math. Finally feel effective in teaching struggling learners, planning math interventions, administering math assessments, and writing the math-related components of IEPs.

Receive the training, practice, materials, and support you need!

  • Online course includes 10 modules; 3 hours each for a total of 30 hours
  • Self-guided – enroll any time and work at your own pace
  • Minimum 1-year of access from registration, with videos and content available on an ongoing basis after that to support implementation over time
  • Each module consists of recorded video presentations, articles to read, videos, and multiple resources, a discussion question, and a short quiz.
  • Take Part 1 (Modules 1-5), Part 2 (Modules 6-10), or Full Course (Modules 1-10)
  • Part 3: “Live” Online option provides a deeper dive with a community of support and is eligible for 3 graduate credits

“This box isn’t big enough to hold a detailed account of all I learned! I’m so excited at how much I learned by taking Decoding Math! It really opened my eyes to new and more efficient ways of working with kids who have math learning disabilities and I’m really having fun planning out the upcoming school year.”

Course Description

Mathematics learning can be difficult for many students, particularly those with dyscalculia or math learning disabilities (MLD). This course will familiarize educators with the multiple cognitive mechanisms involved in mathematics learning and performance, and develop an understanding of the core neurobiological deficits which are foundational to dyscalculia and MLD. Based on the science of math and current research on mathematics teaching and learning, participants will learn how instruction can be better aligned to develop our intuitive understanding of numbers. This course will introduce participants to instructional methods that help all students develop a conceptual understanding of mathematics and mathematical language, gradually leading to procedural fluency. Participants will receive instructions, scripts, and resources for teaching with these methods, supporting participants in their ability to implement these strategies effectively.

“This course was a wonderful learning experience for me. It has helped me tremendously when it comes to creating a focus for learning for my intervention students using researched based strategies. I have completed interventions with several students using dot cards and Cuisenaire rods to build their number sense skills, which has been very successful.”

Course Topics/Modules

Part 1 – Foundations:
Modules 1-5

  • 1 – The Neuroscience of Math and Dyscalculia  
  • 2 – Cognitive Factors of Math Learning Disabilities 
  • 3 – Developing Number Concept with Dot Patterns
  • 4 – Decomposition with Dot Patterns and Cuisenaire Rods
  • 5 – Teaching Addition and Subtraction

Part 2 – Expanded:
Modules 6-10

  • 6 – Teaching Multiplication and Division
  • 7 – Word Problems and Research-Based Math Instruction
  • 8 – Planning Targeted Instruction, Intervention & IEPs
  • 9 – Teaching Fractions, Decimals and Place Value
  • 10 – Math Assessments & SLD Qualifications

“Throughout the ten modules of the Decoding Math course, I learned an extensive amount about the foundation of math learning as well as the many interventions that can be implemented in order to achieve student success. Thank you for a great course!

DECODING MATH Course Options:

Full Course: The full Decoding Math course is organized into 10 modules with each module requiring about 3 hours of work, for a total of 30 hours. Each module consists of recorded video presentations, articles to read, videos, and multiple resources for instruction and further learning. At the end of each module participants will respond to a discussion question and complete a short quiz. Participants receive access to the course for a full year and may complete the coursework at their own pace. Course content and videos will then continue to be available to participants on an ongoing basis, supporting implementation over time.

Participants may sign up for Part 1 (modules 1-5), Part 2 (modules 6-10), or the Full Course (modules 1-10). Dates for Part 3 (Live Online) are posted below.

Foundations: Part 1

Modules 1-5

Foundations: Part 1 of Decoding Math offers Modules 1-5 with 15 hours of asynchronous, self-guided coursework to be completed at your own pace.

Cost: $297

Register anytime and receive immediate access!

Register Now

Expanded: Part 2

Modules 6-10

Expanded: Part 2 of Decoding Math offers Modules 6-10 with 15 hours of asynchronous, self-guided coursework to be completed at your own pace.

Cost: $297

Register anytime and receive immediate access!

Register Now

Full Course: Parts 1-2

Modules 1-10

Full Course: Parts 1-2 of Decoding Math offers Modules 1-10 with 30 hours of self-guided coursework to be completed at your own pace.

Cost: $497 = Save $97 off parts 1 & 2!

Register anytime and receive immediate access!

Register Now

Live Online: Part 3

Interested in taking a deeper dive? Join Math & Special Education Coach Becky Lord “live” online for a community of support that dives deeper into the Decoding Math content. Come discuss what you’re learning, see the methods modeled, ask questions, practice with targeted assignments, and receive access to additional resources that support implementation. Get the training, materials, and support you need to become the math educator you aspire to be!

Live Online: Part 3 of Decoding Math offers an additional 15 hours of class time and is eligible for 3 graduate credits (parts 1 & 2 required).

2024-25 Dates are here! “Live” Online classes via Zoom will be held:
Tuesdays 6:00 – 7:45 pm Eastern time on Sept 17, Oct 15, Nov 12, Dec 10, Jan 7, Feb 4, Mar 4, Apr 1, and Apr 29

Registration for 2024-25 is open!

Cost: $347

Learn More

“I enjoyed taking the Decoding Math course this year. I am especially glad that I decided to take the live class for graduate credit so that I had the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas with other teachers. The course taught me about many new manipulatives, the neuroscience of learning math, and reminded me of some of the strategies I learned. As a special educator, I found the multi-sensory techniques, assessment tools, and intervention structure ideas to be especially helpful.”

Who is this course for? Decoding Math is intended for special educators, general educators, and tutors who want to understand the science of math, dyscalculia/MLD, and how to teach math more effectively. Topics focus on K-6 level skills and are relevant to older students who are not yet solid in their math foundations. The course is also open to administrators, parents and others who are interested in deepening their understanding of math and developing their skills to teach math effectively.

Purchase Orders: If you would like to enroll participants with a purchase order, please email [email protected]

Decoding Math was developed in collaboration with Crafting Minds Group.