3 Professional Development Books Every Math Teacher Should Read

If you’ve spent any time on my website already, then you know that I am all about conceptual learning and rigorous thinking in math. Research backs it and teachers see that it works.

If you’re like many teachers, though, these concepts are new. It wasn’t how you learned math. It wasn’t how you trained to teach math.

Yet, the stakes are high. Students who don’t understand math lock themselves out of crucial STEM based careers

So, how do you learn to integrate those practices into your math teaching? As a math teacher, you give your students hands-on guidance, examples and real-world applications to understand new concepts.

Here are three of my favorite math professional development books that give you all that and more:

1) Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching By Jo Boaler

Most of us have heard about Carol Dweck and her research into the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Jo Boaler applies this idea to learning and teaching math.

We’ve all had students (often girls!) tell us that they’re not good at math. Is that a fixed mindset, or what?

Boaler explains how it’s possible to move children from fixed mindset math thinking to growth mindset math thinking. This includes the many children who experienced “math trauma” and damaging messages in the past. She uses a two pronged approach of better teaching methods and growth oriented messages so that all children can learn and excel at math.

Boaler presents the science behind the theory. Then she offers practical ideas and suggestions for changing our messages, improving our math activities, and overhauling our assessments.

The original book is now expanded as a series, with books dedicated to all different ages and levels.

2)  Visible Learning for Mathematics By John Hattie, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey

A math teacher can get lost in the forest of math resources and activities available today. Do I need to cram in more variety? Which approach is right for which student or age level? How do I have time in my math block for it all?

The premise of Visible Learning is that it’s not about which activity you choose. It’s about when you choose that activity and how you implement it. The authors present three phases of learning:

  • Surface learning phase when students learn new concepts on a procedural level.
  • Deep learning phase when students become proficient in the procedures and deepen their understanding to conceptual learning.
  • Transfer phase when students move on to independent thinking and application of the new concept.

Visible Learning is very hands-on. It includes templates, rubrics, charts, examples, and videos. It takes strategies such as vocabulary, meta-cognition, questions types and many more and shows how to use them for the different stages of the learning cycle.

You don’t have to be a math teacher to know that 300 million is a very, very large number. That’s the number of students involved in the research for this book! Like the previous resource, it’s also expanded into an entire series.

3) Reimagining the Mathematics Classroom  (an NCTM publication) By Cathery Yeh, Mark W. Ellis, Carolee Koehn HurtadoBy Cathery Yeh, Mark W. Ellis, Carolee Koehn Hurtado

Setting up math rotations involves more than cutting up flash cards. Successful math rotations depend on the proper use of physical space. With the wrong set-up, Jimmy and Johnny are wrestling on the floor instead of playing math games.

And that’s just one example. How do you create a classroom space that encourages deep thinking and understanding? How do you set up your classroom routines with both structure and flexibility?

Reimagining the Mathematics Classroom is a great resource for these kinds of questions. It gives advice on rules, routines, assessments and integrating technology. The book even includes extensive advice on the elusive goal of parental involvement.

You’ll get loads of examples, pictures and case studies to learn from. Buying the book also gives you access to supplementary materials on NCTM’s More4U website.

These are my top picks for math professional development books to help you help your students with best practices in teaching math.

Any faves of your own? Let me know!

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