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Math was Made for “Aha Moments”

Teachers share those delightful flashes of insight when everything suddenly clicks

Five years ago, the good folks at Miriam Webster added the phrase “aha moment” to the 2012 edition of their dictionary. They credited Oprah Winfrey with coining and popularizing the expression, which they define as “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.” Fortunately, you don’t have to be a billionaire media giant to have an aha moment.

We recently asked DreamBox Nation teachers to share their flashes of insight. In reading their responses, we experienced an aha moment of our own. Math, by its very nature, is revelatory. Think about the time you first recognized a pattern, identified a relationship, or solved a particularly challenging problem … Aha! Am I right?

At DreamBox, it’s actually our job to nurture aha moments in both students and teachers. Sometimes just hearing someone else recount the moment that things finally clicked for them can have a domino effect on others. Here are the sudden realizations experienced and witnessed by three members of DreamBox Nation. Maybe you’ll read something that switches the light bulb on for you. Enjoy!

    • Martha Ahlborn, Third Grade Teacher

      My “aha!” moment with DreamBox: Differentiation has gotten so much easier! There are times when I don’t feel 100 percent comfortable moving on to the next unit in math, but due to time I must. Now, with DreamBox, I can assign students continued practice and monitor their progress. Additionally, I can assign different topics to those students who have met expectations and want a greater challenge.


My favorite student “aha!” moment: Math builds! My students are realizing that math topics are much more connected to each other than before. A skill acquired in one area can help them master another. It’s “way cool!”

  • Cassandra H., Fourth Grade Teacher

    My “aha!” moment with DreamBox: This is my first year using DreamBox, so I have been learning the lesson presentation along with students. Toward the end of the year, there were several times that I used the DreamBox lesson to support whole group teaching and students said, “Oh, I remember that from DreamBox!”

    My favorite student “aha!” moment: I had a student from Honduras who spoke very little English, and started school mid-year. Despite these challenges, she was exceeding her goal in DreamBox after only a few months. The other students helped explain how the lessons worked and her math skills improved drastically in a very short time. She loved the program!

  • Kahlie Benz, Fifth Grade Teacher

    My “aha!” moment with DreamBox: My teaching aha moment was when I discovered that I can assign lessons that correlate to the objective we are learning in class. This has reinforced learning.

    My favorite student “aha!” moment: During the DreamBox Math Challenge, I had several students who came to school over their Spring Break to complete lessons. They had a blast, and at times forgot they were doing math! Anything can be fun if you approach it with the right mindset.

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