by Linda Dacey and Anne Collins
Reviewed by Cossondra George
Middle School Math & Social Studies (MI)
Teacher Leaders Network
This set of 4 flip booklets is deceptive in size and demeanor. Divided into grades 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8, these books are a must-read and must-keep-on-your-desk for any elementary or middle school teacher of mathematics, no matter your particular grade.Each booklet is divided into ‘modules’ or key concepts/lessons (you can view sample page-spreads here.) Each module is then further divided into five sections.
• Mathematical Focus: The basic “what the student will learn” focus statement/s for that module.The activities in the modules range from traditional explanations of algorithms, to fun game-type activities which will engage students while they master the concepts addressed. Each grade level covers a logical sequence of modules that will surely be a beneficial supplement to any math program you might be using.
• Potential Challenges and Misconceptions: This section does exactly what it suggests. I found it to be particularly useful in helping me think through where difficulties might arise at various stages in my teaching.
• In the Classroom: This is the meat and potatoes of the module: how to apply the content in the classroom. The modules are complete with reproducibles in the back of each spiral-bound flipchart. The activities are straightforward and easily adaptable to your own classroom.
• Meeting Individual Needs: The authors give suggestions for everything from helping kinesthetic learners, to how best to observe as students tackle fractions, to picking up on clues given by non-English language learners. This section provides insight into how to meet a variety of needs, and I found that many of the suggestions are easily transferable and applicable to teaching other math concepts.
• References/Further Reading: While this section is not part of the module itself, I found it very helpful to have other places to look for additional information.
As I wrote to my editor, I originally agreed to review all four flipbooks because I selfishly wanted the book for grades 7-8. I planned to pass along those for the lower levels when I was done. But now that I’ve seen them, I’m keeping them all!
The grade 7-8 booklet will be close at hand in my classroom this year, a new and valuable tool to assist me as I try to help students master some of the more difficult concepts in our curriculum. And there are activities in some of the lower grade-level books that I will be pulling out to use with my 7th graders — in particular my struggling students who still have not mastered the concepts of fractions and division (two areas I often find the most lacking in my students). I look forward to bringing them up to speed using some of the well-thought-out tools presented in this series.
Cossondra George is a veteran mathematics and special education teacher in Newberry, Michigan. Her recent article for new teachers, “Making Math Meaningful for All,” has been a popular read at the Teacher Magazine website.