Although this book is not divided into sections by section headings, it falls naturally into three distinct parts. The first chapter is an introduction to teaching mathematics that discusses lesson planning, technology, and general advice on how to be a better mathematics teacher. The second chapter is completely devoted to the NCTM principles for school mathematics. It gives a brief overview of each of the principles: equity, curriculum, teaching, learning, assessment, and technology. Chapter 3–12 are devoted to each of the NCTM Standards for grades 6–8. The only drawback is that these chapters (on the standards) are not ordered in the same way as in the NCTM Principles and Standards book, although one might argue that this book has a better ordering. It puts the “general” standards first (representation, connections, communication, reasoning and proof, and problem solving). Then chapters 8–12 focus on the “content” standards (numbers and operations, measurement, data analysis and probability, algebra, and geometry).
The book includes exercises entitled “Your Turn” throughout each chapter. At the end of each chapter, it includes a section called “sticky questions,” which ask your opinion or what you would do in a specific situation. Here is an examples of a “sticky question”, from the introductory chapter: “What will you do if your administration does not support the use of technology in the mathematics classroom (calculator or computer)?” (p. 23)
The “sticky questions” are followed by a section called “TAG,” which stands for Tricks, Activities, and Games. These are clever mathematics problems that can be used in the classroom. One of the TAG questions from chapter 2 is “How do you show 15 minutes with only two hourglasses, one that goes for 7 minutes and one that goes for 11 minutes?” (p. 36)
The book has a conversational writing style so it is very easy to read. One of the things that I liked most about this book is that it includes a lot of mathematics — great problems, exercises, and activities. It also contains a solutions manual with all solutions to the “Your Turn” exercises as well as the “TAG” problems. Throughout the book, it the authors emphasize that most middle school students have a hard time moving from understanding at the concrete level to understanding at the abstract level. It addresses this issue and offers advice to teachers.
This book could be used as a textbook for a middle school methods course and would also make a good reference book for mathematics education majors and classroom teachers.
Sharon Schaffer Vestal is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. In her (lack of) free time, she enjoys spending time with her family.