Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible

5Nov/070

Review: What SUCCESSFUL Math Teachers Do, Grades 6-12

Alfred Posamentier, one of my great heroes, and Daniel Jaye have collaborated to produce a discussion of "79 Research-based Strategies for the Standards-based Classroom", which is the subtitle of the book, What SUCCESSFUL Math Teachers Do, Grades 6-12.What SUCCESSFUL Math Teachers Do, Grades 6-12

Posamentier is dean of the School of Education and Professor of Mathematics Education of the City College of the City University of New York. He has written a number of books that inspire teachers and students to approach Math with a sense of wonder. Jaye is the assistant Principal for Mathematics at Stuyvesant High School, a school for gifted students in New York City.

The book has 6 chapters:

  1. Managing Your Classroom
  2. Enhancing Teaching Techniques
  3. Facilitating Student Learning
  4. Assessing Student Progress
  5. Teaching Problem Solving
  6. Considering Social Aspects in Teaching Mathematics

Additionally, there's a resource section where the authors list over 100 topics for classroom exploration.

Each chapter consists of a number of teaching strategies. Each strategy is methodically broken down into:

  1. Title of the Strategy
  2. What the Research Says. This section refers to and describes specific studies that support the strategy being discussed.
  3. Teaching to the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) Standards. This is an important section in that it explains how employing a particular strategy meets one or more specific principles or standards of the NCTM.
  4. Classroom Applications. This section explains and lists ways to implement the strategy in the classroom.
  5. Precautions and Pitfalls. This section alerts teachers about potential obstacles to realizing the goal of the strategy plus recommends ways to avoid these traps.
  6. Sources. These are the references to the research behind the strategies.

The book is comprehensive, well organized, and thoroughly researched. Although I'm not a teacher or student these strategies all seem very valuable to me.

Some of my favorite strategies include:

  1. Strategy 16: Find out about your students' motivation regarding mathematics, and use that knowledge to refine your instruction.
  2. Strategy 19. Praise mistakes! This strategy addresses the shame and anxiety that many students feel in the classroom.
  3. Strategy 33: To reduce math anxiety, focus on both the thoughts and the emotions of the students.
  4. Strategy 63: Emphasize the general principles that underly solving specific types of problems.
  5. Strategy 69: Find out about your students' families and how their values and practices might affect students' attitudes and performance in mathematics.

Posamentier and Jaye clearly know what they're talking about, both having spent considerable amounts of time in the trenches and both caring very deeply for the success of their students. Their competence shows in the tying together of strategy, research, and application in support of NCTM guidelines. Their caring shows in the overall tone of the book.

I highly recommend this book to all teachers, coaches, and tutors. As a Math tutor and mentor I found a number of important considerations to incorporate in my work with students.

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