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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

A Read to Rejuvenate your Teaching

Several years ago the National Science Teachers Association published the first of a series of books called Stop Faking It! Finally Understanding Science So You Can Teach It. After a long line of science-specific books (with math easily embedded) they published a book in the series simply subtitled Math. In a world of too many articles to readand too many resource books to get your mind around, this book is completely worth your time. A humorous approach and straight talk make this book an easy and valuable read for thenovice or experienced teacher, and everyone else on the planet.

The focus of all of the books in Dr. William Robertson’s series is shifting the emphasis away from memorizing math and science to a concept based approach that allows teachers and students alike to really “get it.” Each chapter addresses a different math concept: fractions, graphs, variables, addition, subtraction and even derivatives. An entire chapter is dedicated to understanding the ever-dreaded word problem.

For whom do I recommend this book? For new teachers who want ideas about how to teach math concepts. For the fifth year teacher who has a handle on things but wants to do a better job of getting their students to understand. For the expert teacher who is looking to make a change in their approach to teaching math. Why, you ask? Read on.


Scattered throughout the text are cartoons that will tickle the fancy of even the most pure mathematician. Each chapter includes examples and simple “things to do” that would be easily transferred to classroom exploration activities. The text explains math in a way that is less fearsome than any other I have read.

For anyone who is teaching a high school math class full of students who would prefer to be anyplace else other than there, this would bean excellent text to supplement your classroom materials. An easy read, layered with humorous jabs and footnotes such as “That would be Gomez Adams from the TV show the Adams Family” (p. 88).

Each chapter includes a bulleted list of summary points and problems that you and your students might actually want to solve. The voice of the text makes the reading casual and approachable, saying to the reader, “Hey, math isn’t so bad. Really, it’s kind of fun.”

I give the glossary a thumbs up as well. Key vocabulary are explained in a way that actually make sense and does not use BIG words within the definition, as some books are prone to do.

In each chapter you come across little boxes titled Guideposts. According to the author, his wife recommended these little inserts to help folks follow his train of thought throughout the book. As he puts it, these notes “remind you of the purpose of an activity or what exactly I’m explaining at a given point.” This is another reason I believe this would be a good resource for upper level students who are bored by remedial texts.

Have a little fun in your endeavor to teach math concepts so that your students really understand them. Check out a copy of the Stop Faking It! Math book and see what you can do to enrich your classroom.

Robertson, William C. (2006). Stop Faking it! Finally understanding science so you can teach it. Math. Alexandria, VA: National Science Teachers Association.

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