Review by Mary Boes, Spring Lake Public Schools, Spring Lake, Michigan. From the January 2000 issue of Teaching Children Mathematics, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Reprinted with permission from NCTM © 2000. All rights reserved.
This book offers a vision for fostering mathematical ideas in kindergarten for both beginning and experienced teachers. The book challenges teachers to develop an idea-centered classroom, to reflect on their teaching, and to engage in professional development. This teacher resource can help all of us better understand how to nurture the growth of mathematical ideas.
The layout is teacher friendly and easy to use in planning instruction. The ideas in the book will help build a child’s senses of security, autonomy, and community, each of which supports learning.
Through actual conversations between learners and teachers and between learners and learners, the book models how to teach children to think about their learning and reflect on mathematical ideas. It discusses the three basic teaching formats—explorations, workshops, and meetings—which together provide a balance of child-initiated play and structured investigations. The six content strands into which the book is organized are (1) numbers and operation; (2) patterns; (3) sorting, comparing, and ordering; (4) geometry and spatial sense; (5) measurement; (6) data analysis, statistics, and probability. The book expresses ideas consistent with NCTM’s 1998 Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, Discussion Draft. Many teachers have difficulty understanding the new representation standard; this text does an excellent job of connecting a variety of representations to enhance mathematical ideas.
The only weakness in the book is the constant mention of the classroom teacher’s name to the exclusion of those of the students leading the learning. This environment is, however, a kindergarten classroom that is supported by the teacher’s leadership modeling.
I highly recommend this book for all kindergarten teachers. The ideas presented in the book were wonderfully received in my classroom. The use of language suggested played an extensive role in the growth of mathematical ideas as we explored these approaches.
I am sure that our future includes Growing Mathematical Ideas in First Grade, Second Grade, and so on, and I am equally sure that this resource book will be on many teacher’s desks, filled with tabs marking the enjoyable activities that lie between its pages.
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