Resource Reviews 1/07
by Connect Staff
The Math Coach Field Guide: Charting Your Course, edited by Carolyn Felux and Paula Snowdy, is a valuable collection of narratives advising math support teachers, specialists, resource teachers and coaches. What are the most effective ways of helping elementary teachers in mathematics? Many years of experience back up the suggestions of these eleven authors. This book takes the place of sitting down and chatting with experts and is a useful guide for novices and longtime practitioners alike. 124 pages.
Math Matters: Grades K—8, Understanding the Math You Teach, by Suzanne H. Chapin and Art Johnson, is a comprehensive guide for all levels of elementary and middle school. Each of fourteen chapters in this second edition tackles a math topic (number sense, algebra, measurement, etc.) and introduces basic concepts, defines terms, and offers explanations that are clear and support confident teaching of that topic. Written for the busy educator, this is an excellent and easy to understand resource that can be used for quick reference questions as well as to fortify overarching ideas and understandings of the "big picture." Web resources are included. 348 pages.
You're Smarter Than You Think: A Kid's Guide to Multiple Intelligences, by Thomas Armstrong, is written directly to children, explaining Gardner's multiple intelligences. This book outlines eight different kinds of intelligences or, "smarts," including word smart, music, logic, picture, body, people, self and nature smart. Each chapter explores what it means to be smart in one way, what to do if you're not strong in that area, how to support it if it is a strength, and suggestions of activities that would be enjoyable or beneficial in that area. When these ways of teaching and learning are explored as a class, a respect and recognition of various ways of processing are emphasized. Children regard themselves, and others, with new esteem for talents and skills that might otherwise go unnoticed. 192 pages.
Teaching the Best Practice Way: Methods that Matter, K—12, by Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar, is a collection of examples of educators who use authentic practices. In seven chapters the authors outline what they think are the building blocks of good instruction. These are described as: teaching as thinking, representing to learn, small group activities, classroom workshop, authentic experiences, reflective assessment, and integrative units. Different teachers are showcased and each writes a few pages about valuable teaching. The introduction addresses how these methods stand up to standardized tests. Written anecdotally, this book also provides examples of children's work, sample activities, and suggestions for how to start. 343 pages.
Black Ants and Buddhists, by Mary Cowhey (see her article A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Test in this issue), is a moving and funny book about one teacher's adventures in teaching all subjects critically, with rich examples in math and science. Cowhey encourages her first- and second-grade students to question, to reason, to express and communicate. Through investigating questions of their own, community involvement, and social action, students learn both the basic academics and the greater lessons of being a human in the world. Simultaneously inspiring and challenging, this book is nothing short of a call to action. 244 pages.
Assessment for Learning, by Paul Black, Dylan Wiliam and additional authors, explains their study of formative assessment as a tool to support positive progress in learning. The authors critique the effectiveness of on-going formative assessment and propose ways to improve upon its use in classrooms. Their research documents the value of this type of assessment as a continuous feedback loop for teacher and student. In this book, they argue for better implementation of formative assessment, especially to aid in ending the negative impacts of conventional, high stakes assessment on low-achieving students. The book introduces research and also provides action steps for schools. 135 pages.
Arbor Scientific's resource page has lots of links to good sites such as the Exploratorium, NSTA, etc. Arbor Scientific itself also has a small but useful collection of science teacher publications and products in their catalog. http://www.arborsci.com/Resource.htm
NCTM's online publication describes focal points, the most important mathematical topics for each grade level. It comprises related ideas, concepts, skills, and procedures that form the foundation for understanding and lasting learning. From this page, the book is downloadable by chapters. NCTM relates the focal points to their previously published Standards. http://www.nctm.org/focalpoints.
- Synergy Learning has a small dedicated staff of educators with experience both in the classroom and staff development.