If you have an interest in how mathematics should be taught at the elementary or middle school level, then you should check out this book. It includes the typical topics found in texts for elementary and middle school teachers of mathematics. One of the goals is to help a teacher understand the ideas found throughout the elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Is it also meant to help teachers more effectively present these ideas to their students.
Today’s Mathematics opens with a discussion of NCTM standards and the teaching of mathematics. In addition to sections of early chapters devoted to what the content and teaching standards are as well as how to assess them, the standards are referenced as they appear in the chapters more focused on content. This makes it easy for the reader to understand the connection between the two.
Virtual manipulatives are introduced in the chapter on technology in K through 8 mathematics education. A CD including such manipulatives is included with the text. The chapter on technology is followed by one discussing the roles of problem solving, decision making, and communication in mathematics learning.
Most of the remainder of the book deals with the mathematical content that teachers of this level must master and communicate to their own students. The research snapshots found throughout the book are informative and useful. The integration of technology does not stop at the chapter on that topic, but practical ways to incorporate virtual manipulatives into lessons are found throughout the book. A new teacher or one looking to breathe new life into some of his or her lessons will be pleased at the wealth of sample instructional and assessment activities found in this text.
The book could be used for a mathematical methods course or a mathematics for teachers course. It would also serve as an excellent reference for a practicing teacher. If you are interested in starting a math circle for elementary or middle school teachers this text could be a wonderful starting point, especially if you are trained primarily as a mathematician with less background in educational theory. This is a book that any mathematician interested in pre-high school mathematics should have on their bookshelf.
Suzanne Caulk is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Regis University in Denver, CO. She is very interested in modular forms. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.