## My Favorite Resource

*June 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm* *
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Today one of my math teaching buddies asked me to recommend a math pedagogy book she could read on an upcoming road trip. I recommended Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally even though it is not a book you read cover to cover. Instead, it is organized by topic and you can skip around as needed.

I like a lot of other books, but this book is my compass because it addresses both content and pedagogy. It is the ONLY resource that I go back to on a regular basis, and here’s why:

## 1. It tells you where the “ah-ha moments” should be.

I know how to read a graph but when it came to teaching students how to do it I thought to myself, “What can I say besides ‘read the question and use the graph to answer it’ ?”

This book breaks graphs into two categories – those without numeric ordering (bar graph and pictographs) and those with numeric ordering (graphs with number lines). This is a simple idea, but one that is very useful in planning because it provides a structure around which teachers can organize their teaching and students can organize their observations.

## 2. It tells you where the “uh-oh moments” might be.

I taught students that a fraction was the part out the total, but it was still very difficult for them to remember. When I turned to this book I understood why.

It said, *“The way that we write fractions with a top and a bottom number and a bar between is a convention – an arbitrary agreement for how to represent fractions. (By the way, always write fractions with a horizontal bar, not a slanted one. Write not 3/4.) As a convention, it falls in the category of things that you simply tell students. However, a good idea is to make the convention so clear by way of demonstration that students will tell you what the top and bottom numbers stand for.”*

## 3. It tells you how to sequence ideas so that they build on each other.

Now you would have to read all of Chapter 20 to understand what I mean. But seriously, it is mind-blowing. Basically, it breaks the development of geometric thinking into three levels and tell you what kind of thinking characterizes each level. It provides specific examples and lots of pictures. It is *the* way to teach geometry.

## 4. It tells you which activities you might use.

Models for fractions? There are ten different kinds on page 245. Teaching measurement? Start with informal units on page 319. Multi-digit multiplication? Model it the way they do on page 219.

The book is expensive, but completely worth it especially because one copy can be shared by a school. You can buy it at the link below or maybe find it at a library:

http://www.amazon.com/Elementary-Middle-School-Mathematics-Developmentally/dp/0205573525

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