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Learn How To Teach Math: Growing Your Math Pedagogy

Updated: Jan 13

When I first started teaching, I was teaching only Math and Science and had only received one class on teaching math in college. And even then, it was not focused on teaching early elementary mathematics.

There was one person in my building who saw how willing I was to learn more, and really grow my practice, and she gave me my first book on teaching math. After that, I kept looking for more and this is a round-up of the books I have found the most helpful for increasing my capacity as a math teacher.

Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics Developmentally Appropriate Instruction for Grades Pre-K-2 (Student-Centered Mathematics)

Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics by John Van de Walle et al. is the book that started it all for me! There are versions for 3-5 and 6-8 as well! It has a good mix of math development and lesson and center ideas. It discusses how to create a student-centered environment, address problem-solving, language learners, etc in its first part. The next part discusses different concepts in detail like number sense, place value, computation, early algebraic reasoning, geometry, data, and more.

Math Recovery Series

The Math Recovery Series has a wealth of information but is harder to make sense of. The idea of the math recovery books is that students are given an assessment and depending on how they answer questions, they either move one or the assessment stops. Their “ceiling” is where they are in the progression of certain topics and the books then give ideas for activities to do to support students in moving to the next level of progression. The “purple book” is most common if you have taken the Add Vantage Math Recovery Course (it's expensive but very good) and touches on number words and numerals,  early counting and addition, structuring numbers (decomposing numbers), advanced counting, addition, subtraction, two-digit addition and subtraction, and early multiplication and division.

For the grade levels I was working with, and counting specifically the green books offered more detail, but they all offer so many insights!

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zarretta Hammond is not specifically a math book but goes into how the brain learns and processes new information. I found it to be really helpful in terms of structures and strategies to leverage when planning lessons to take advantage of how the brain learns. Once you have an understanding of that, you can apply that knowledge to all subjects not just math. It does get scientific, but again, a great book to look into.

Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics

Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics by Peter Lilijedahl has become a very popular book in the math world with good reason! It offers an actionable framework for teaching problem-solving for grades K-12. I was skeptical about a book that is written for K-12 but I tried it for a whole year in Kindergarten and it worked wonders! If you have been struggling to teach problem-solving or getting students to participate in problem-solving, this is the book for you!