Recommended Read

November 30, 2011 at 2:36 am Leave a comment

I have a goal to read at least one professional book a month.  In order to fulfill this lofty goal, I have to find literature about teaching math that is worthwhile.  By worthwhile, I mean engaging, inspiring, and full of useful thoughts that I can either put into practice, or help teachers put into practice.

I’ve just completed my first book, and  I highly recommend it to every elementary teacher who wants students to develop critical thinking and conceptual understanding in math!  Math Exchanges; Guiding  Young Mathematicians in Small-Group Meetings by Kassia Omohundro Wedekind.

 In the book, Ms. Wedekind describes the different types of problems based on Cognitively Guided Instruction, which I actually have read. She also writes about how we should assess what students CAN do mathematically, and how to encourage students to find the math in their own lives.  The book is a quick read, allows educators to immediately put into practice “Mathematician Statements”, as well as provides strategies to become more reflective in our own  mathematical thinking.

As I began reading the book, I kept thinking, “I wish I could buy a copy for every teacher I work with”!  It’s THAT good!  Our district has been implementing a Math Workshop approach over the past 3 years, and even though we’ve done some professional development on what that is, we still have some work to do.  And as I’ve tried to Google things for Math Workshop, everything seems to come up looking like what is known as Guided Math.  Although I think the two have parallels, there are some slight differences.  There’s even some differences in this book, however, the guiding principles are the same. 

Teach for conceptual understanding.

Assess students to find out where they are in their mathematical thinking.

Teach through problem solving.

TALK about math.

WRITE about math. 

I often have the challenge of helping “reading” teachers become “math” teachers.  By sharing my own personal story of always feeling like a reading and writing teacher, but never feeling like a math teacher, I think I start to chip away at the fears many elementary teachers have when it comes to math. (Hello, I’m now a district MATH COACH.. ironic? )  Math Exchanges helped me look at math through the same lens that I used to only look at reading and writing. It also took me on a journey of learning math the way I wished I would have as a child.  Imagine the money my parents would have saved on tutors!  This is my wish for students today.  Learn how math applies to your life. Find joy in the rigor of problem solving. Look at math problems as a story, and you have to comprehend the story before you can finish it!

 With every professional book and  article I read, every conference or workshop I attend, and with every Tweet I follow, I learn something new. The selection of  professional books about Reading and Writing trumps Math, but the list is growing and I recommend this one be at the top of yours! If you’re curious how to create young mathematicians in your own classroom, run… seriously, run out and get this book.

Thank you Kassia for writing this book and taking the necessary steps to share it with others. What a gift!


Entry filed under: Professional Reads. Tags: , , , , .

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Kristen Hahn

November 2011
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