Book series addresses tough-to-teach mathematics

Samantha Schwartz
December 18, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A top-selling 16-book series that addresses mathematics and statistics topics that are challenging to teach yet crucial to student development will release the final book in the series this month.

Each book in the series “Essential Understanding,” edited by Rose Mary Zbiek, professor of education, and published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, draws on research and links the findings directly with classroom practice. They address an area of mathematics that is critical to students’ continued academic progress but challenging for students to learn well.

Zbiek says this series will help teachers in a number of ways.

“The books help teachers enrich their understanding of mathematics and statistics content regardless of whether they are 30-year classroom veterans or prospective teachers waiting to student-teach, and regardless of whether they have little preparation or have advanced degrees in the two areas,” Zbiek sad.

The series is intended for individual teachers, professional learning communities and pre-service and graduate courses. They are designed to be engaging and readable within a teacher’s challenging daily schedules.

The series connects mathematics and statistics content directly to school math curricula, assessment strategies and student learning tactics. Authors use the mathematics and statistics that students are expected to learn to identify the mathematics and statistics that teachers need to know.

“Knowing more mathematics isn’t enough,” Zbiek said. “Teachers and instructors at all levels need to know the mathematics and statistics they teach and where that content fits both in the bigger picture of their school curriculum and in the broader mathematical sciences.

Throughout the series, authors discuss “big ideas,” defined in “Essential Understanding” as overarching notions that are central to a mathematical or statistical topic. Each big idea is then fleshed out through a set of smaller, more concrete ideas that are associated with each big idea.

“The idea of rethinking big ideas and asking what mathematics is essential to teachers from prekindergarten to grade 12 is intellectually invigorating,” Zbiek said. “Being able to share it in a practical form that is welcomed by teachers and prospective teachers has been a unique opportunity.”

As the series editor, Zbiek manages the work of 40 contributors including leading scholars and classroom teachers from the U.S. and Canada, like Gwendolyn Lloyd, professor of education. She also oversees the overall editorial work and external reviews for all books.

Zbiek said, “The authors involved have repeatedly noted that their work has been, in the words of one extremely accomplished teacher and writer, ‘the best professional development of my life.’”

  • Rose Mary Zbiek

    Rose Mary Zbiek

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • Essential Understandings

    Essential Understandings book cover

    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated December 19, 2014