Publication Type: Web Article
Year of Publication: 2007
Cossondra George, a Michigan middle-school teacher, questions some of the recommended assessment methods in the book such as curving test scores, but finds new, inventive ways to teach concepts like multiplication of negative numbers. She calls the book, which focuses on mastery of concepts and not just rote memoritazion, “practical and applicable.”
Citation: Krulik, S., Jaye, D. & Posamentier, A.S. (2007). Exemplary practices for secondary math teachers. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Exemplary Practices for Secondary Math Teachers
by Alfred S Posamentier, Daniel Jaye and Stephen Krulik
2007 (230 pp., paperback; also available as e-book)
$27.95 ($21.95 for members)
by Cossondra George
Middle Grades Math & Social Studies
When the first chapter of this book was geared towards new math teachers in their first years of teaching, I was a bit disappointed. Granted the advice was sound but not very applicable to my own teaching position.
However, as I continued to read the book, I was quickly engaged in more practical ideas I could relate to. The book's focus is built upon students mastering math concepts not just rote memorization of formulas and algorithms. A significant portion addresses how to use technology appropriately in a math classroom. Other chapters offer advice on how to best teach using a textbook, how to select a textbook, and how to collect your own math library. Step-by-step ideas for planning lessons and units, as well as practical classroom management strategies for homework, attendance, etc. are included.
Chapter 6 gets into "Some Specific Ideas for Teaching Certain Lessons." Though not all the lessons introduced were appropriate for my 7th grade students, I did get some great ideas for my classes. For example, one topic I do teach that my students struggle greatly with is multiplying two negative numbers. A real-life example of how to apply this concept to a video of water being drained from a tank gives me a wonderful tool to use with my students the next time I teach this lesson. Another lesson I was drawn to was on using a paper-folding activity to teach the Pythagorean Theorem. While I already have some cool ideas to teach this concept, having one more for students who are struggling is a great thing.
Questioning techniques are suggested in this chapter as well. Most of these techniques are ones I already use but the list is a comprehensive one — reminding me of the importance of using questioning effectively.
One of the challenging problems suggested had an Interpret the Remainder set of questions. I had never considered the importance of having students explore this area. This material is easily adapted to a wide range of learners and something I will use with my 7th graders at the beginning of the year to get them thinking mathematically.
One area in the text I disagreed with was the assessment section. While the information presented on how to construct assessments and rubrics effectively was useful, I was concerned to see the authors suggest curving scores if all students do poorly.
While allowing students to retake a test (specifically, another version of the same test) is suggested as an alternative, they recommend averaging the two scores. Personally, I feel strongly students should always be allowed retakes of tests, and the new score should replace the original.
Student math journals are addressed in this book also. This is an area I struggle with each year in my classes. The book suggests collecting journals at least once a marking period and grading them based on neatness and completeness. I wonder how this practice impacts the true grade of mastery reported to parents. My student journals are more a learning tool for them than an assessment tool for me. That's a teacher preference, of course, and the authors' ideas for math journal entries were very useful.
I love the suggestions for creating a math club and/or team to support math enthusiasm among students. I can't wait to explore this with some of my students this year, and this book gave me some wonderful ideas on getting started.
A large section of the appendix is devoted to serving special education students in the regular math classroom. I found this section particularly enlightening, giving me ideas for supporting struggling and special needs students in my program.
The book finishes with a comprehensive list of resources for almost any question you might have about teaching math. However, all the sources are print sources. I wish they would have supplemented with online resources since purchasing these types of materials is expensive.
Overall, I found this book to be practical and applicable. It is not an exciting read, but it's a book that reminds us of what best practices in math are. I'll keep my copy close by on my desk. After teaching math for 7 years, I feel I have a renewed sense of purpose and direction for my class as the new school year begins.