Saturday, August 23, 2014

Elementary Read

Planning my fall pre-service elementary math course, I was thinking about books. In the distant past we've read Deb Schifter's What's Happening in Math Class? (strong teacher narratives), and more recently Jo Boaler's What's Math Got to Do It. (Here's a recount of one of our book discussions about it.) But in my other classes, it's been very good to offer choice to students. (Here's a post about that.) I'm a big believer that teacher-to-teacher reflective conversation is the best PD, and book discussions make good context for those discussions. (A pdf of some research on this by Burbank, Kurchauk and Bates in The New Educator.)

I was finalizing my list for them to choose among, and thought to ask on Twitter. As usual, unexpected generosity in people thinking and answering. (I don't know why it's still unexpected.) Here's the responses:

A Mathematician's Lament.

I don't have a long list I'm drawing from, but Marilyn Burns' "Math for Smarty Pants" comes to mind. 

@j_lanier I second this. Have ordered to share with my elementary teachers in the district.

Rudin! Go big or go home ;-)

Children's Mathematics. 

Euclid’s Elements, because it’s comprehensive :P

Powerful Problem Solving. Lots of great examples.

Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piaget's Theory by Constance Kamii

maybe "Creative Problem Solving in School Mathematics" by George Lenchner.

I second but I also like 10 Instructional Shifts by @steve_leinwand

making sense:teaching & learning with understanding by James Hiebert - geared k-8 but great for all math teachers

#1 for me is What's Math Got to Do With It? by , #2 is Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics by Liping Ma ... #3 is Thinking Mathematically: Integrating Arithmetic and Algebra in Elementary School by Carpenter, Frankl, and Levi

Van de Walle, Teaching Student Centered Mathematics 

What a great bunch of suggestions. So my final list for them to choose from is below. I'm requiring at least two people per book, at most four. (24 students) In addition to the benefits of choice, I'm hoping that a variety of books enriches our classroom discussion.
  • Accessible Mathematics: Ten Instructional Shifts That Raise Student Achievement, Steven Leinwand, (Amazon) [Practical, pre-service teacher approved)]
  • Intentional Talk: How to Structure and Lead Productive Mathematical Discussions, Kazemi & Hintz, (Amazon) [Applies to more than math; good support for helping students learn to converse productively]
  • Making Sense: Teaching and Learning Mathematics with Understanding, Carpenter, Fennema, Fuson, Hiebert, Murray & Wearne (Amazon) [Writers and researchers of the best elementary math curricula around tell what they think is important.]
  • Math Exchanges: Guiding Young Mathematicians in Small Group Meetings, Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, (Amazon) [Similar to intentional talk, more strongly based in literacy routines.]
  • Math for Smarty Pants, Marilyn Burns (Amazon) [Collection of entertaining problems across all kinds of math from a master math teacher.]
  • A Mathematician's Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form, Paul Lockhart (Amazon) [Not sure about putting this on. Many readers are disappointed in the 2nd part, but the 1st part people see as a powerful argument for why math teaching has to change.]
  • Powerful Problem Solving, Max Ray (Amazon) [New book from a very deep thinker about how to teach math.] 
  • What's Math Got to Do with It?: How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject, Jo Boaler (Amazon) [If I was picking one book for everybody this would be it. Dr. Boaler is doing a lot to research and share how to make math better.]
Last cuts: Moebius Noodles,  The Math Book by Clifford Pickover (beautiful history of math), and Deb Schifter's What's happening in Math Class.

5 Practices by Smith and Stein (dropped for Intentional Talk and Exchanges) and the NCTM's Principle to Actions were just not accessible enough in this structure. I think if everyone was reading the same book, those would work better.

This course focuses on pattern, geometry and statistics, with number and operation in another course. Otherwise CGI would be on for sure. The Young Mathematicians at Work books are a fine series we use with our elementary teacher math majors.

P.S. And then, like any modern story, it ends with a sequel invitation...

Good question, extend. If you could get your child's HS math teacher to read one book, what would it be?

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