National Academies Press: OpenBook

Helping Children Learn Mathematics (2002)

Chapter: What Can Teachers Do?

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Suggested Citation:"What Can Teachers Do?." National Research Council. 2002. Helping Children Learn Mathematics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10434.
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What Can Teachers Do?

  • Be committed to the idea that all children can become proficient in math.

  • Develop and deepen your understanding of math, of student thinking, and of techniques that promote math proficiency.

  • Emphasize to policy makers, administrators, parents, and students the need for and the achievability of math proficiency.

  • Use an instructional program and materials that, based on the best available scientific evidence, support the development of math proficiency.

  • Teach mathematics for a sufficient amount of time (e.g., an hour a day).

  • Attend professional development activities that integrate math, student thinking, and instructional techniques.

  • Advocate for ongoing, sustained, coherent professional development activities that support teaching for math proficiency.

  • Organize and participate in study groups at your school that focus on teaching practice.

  • Engage in conversations with colleagues about developing proficiency and about students and their math proficiency.

  • Become a mentor to a colleague learning to teach for math proficiency.

Suggested Citation:"What Can Teachers Do?." National Research Council. 2002. Helping Children Learn Mathematics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10434.
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Results from national and international assessments indicate that school children in the United States are not learning mathematics well enough. Many students cannot correctly apply computational algorithms to solve problems. Their understanding and use of decimals and fractions are especially weak. Indeed, helping all children succeed in mathematics is an imperative national goal. However, for our youth to succeed, we need to change how we’re teaching this discipline. Helping Children Learn Mathematics provides comprehensive and reliable information that will guide efforts to improve school mathematics from pre--kindergarten through eighth grade. The authors explain the five strands of mathematical proficiency and discuss the major changes that need to be made in mathematics instruction, instructional materials, assessments, teacher education, and the broader educational system and answers some of the frequently asked questions when it comes to mathematics instruction. The book concludes by providing recommended actions for parents and caregivers, teachers, administrators, and policy makers, stressing the importance that everyone work together to ensure a mathematically literate society.

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