Book Study: Teaching Numeracy, Preface and Introduction - Math Coach's Corner


I love the excitement that this book study series has generated! I was tickled that we cleaned out Amazon’s supply of the book in about two days. Luckily, one of the authors, Margie Pearse, has contacted Amazon and more are on the way.

This post contains affiliate links, which simply means that when you use my link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, and I only link to books and products that I personally use and recommend.

If you don’t have the book in your hands, you’ll see from the format of the book study that it’s not a problem. Over the next seven weeks we will be reading Teaching Numeracy, 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking. Each Monday, I will write a blog post with my thoughts on the reading, and I hope you all will participate by adding your comments. In the Preface, the authors state, “Research mixed with practical ideas is, in our opinion, a magical brew for teachers.” I couldn’t agree more, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this book. My hope is that we all think deeply and make concrete plans for implementing these important instructional practices in our classrooms this fall. Push yourself to put your thoughts in writing by commenting as we read each section!

Reading Schedule

Preface and Introduction

There’s no way you could read the Introduction and not come away with a good understanding of what is meant by numeracy. The authors cite numerous studies and resources about what it means to be numerate. To put it in my own words, I’d say that numeracy is not just doing math, but using math. In other words, if you can’t apply the math you know, you’re not numerate. Here’s a thought I hope you’ll comment on: I have always thought of numeracy and number sense as being interchangeable, but now I’m not so sure. Are they the same thing? If not, how are they different? The idea of connections between literacy and numeracy is not new to me, but I think it’s typically thought of from the perspective of using literacy strategies to teach math. Books such as Laney Sammons’ Building Mathematical Comprehension: Using Literacy Strategies to Make Meaning are a good example. And of course, we’ve all realized that most math tests are actually reading tests–if you can’t comprehend what the problem is asking, you can’t solve it. But the authors make a very strong case about the far-reaching importance of numeracy outside of the classroom through quotes such as this:

Evidence shows that poor numeracy skills are a greater impediment to life chances than poor literacy skills and that by raising standards of numeracy we will be improving the career prospects of our pupils (Groves, 2001).

Which brings me to my final thought/question: My experience has been that there is something of a “literacy versus numeracy” mentality (pg. 2). For example, in my district, we have had reading interventionists on our elementary campuses for as long as I can remember, but only in the last four years have we added math interventionists. And I think teachers are still largely drawn to the primary grades (K-2) because they want to teach children to read. I do feel, however, that slowly the scales are balancing. I appreciate the talking points provided in this Introduction regarding the need for stronger numeracy instruction. Looking forward to lots of active participation as you all share your thoughts in the comments!

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