Math Dictionary for Kids Goes Beyond Definitions

Math Dictionary for Kids: The Essential Guide to Math Terms, Strategies, and Tables (4th Ed.)
By Theresa R. Fitzgerald

Reviewed by Dylan Schulte

Math Dictionary for Kids: The Essential Guide to Math Terms, Strategies, and Tables (4th Ed.) is an effective book for teachers, students, and parents. I enjoy how the book is aligned with the math content. And the 272-page 4th Edition is literally a dictionary of the kind that most people are familiar with in their lives.

The book does an awesome job defining the majority of concepts that are aligned with Common Core Standards for Middle Grades Mathematics. In addition, the dictionary section is very reader friendly: both teachers AND students have an opportunity to understand the terms/concepts. Lastly, there are helpful examples for the reader that show the context behind the defined word.

I like how the book is sectioned according to the major math concepts that are aligned across the middle grades. Within the dictionary section, there are the following math sections: “Whole Numbers and Operations,” “Measurement,” “Algebraic Ideas,” “Geometry,” “Decimals, Fractions, Percents, and Ratios,” “Statistics and Probability,” and “Problem Solving.” All these topics are aspects that I’ve experienced in teaching in my host school and seen in the curriculum map for 5th grade.

From a teacher’s point of view

Many companies and institutions that write math books are composed of people who have little, sometimes no, experience in today’s classrooms. I appreciate that the book is written by a fourth-grade teacher, Theresa R. Fitzgerald, because she relates her personal experiences and knows the helpful scaffolding strategies for students. Her clear focus in this book will help teachers, students and even parents understand math concepts and how they are integrated across grade levels.

One of my favorite sections in the book is “Learning with Manipulatives.” This section is very beneficial for teachers, providing multiple strategies to help teachers scaffold math concepts for students. Teachers have the opportunity to read about using manipulatives for “Base of 10s,” “Geoboards,” “Geometric Solids,” “Graph Papers,” “Protractors,” and many other topics. Teachers can make an interactive lesson through the “Learning with Manipulatives” section in the book. I look forward to using this in my own classroom in the near future.

More practice problems?

I do wish there were practice problems aligned with the content in the Math Dictionary. There are examples at key points throughout the book, but I feel that students are more likely to gain a deep understanding of math concepts through practice with interesting and challenging problems.

Also, it’s difficult to make the blanket statement that the Math Dictionary will serve the needs of 4th-9th graders, given the differences in math standards and approaches to the Common Core across the states. Even so, I would still highly recommend that teachers and students have access to a book like this!  In particular, teachers will find this book very useful to relate concepts in ways that students can understand.

Dylan Schulte is a senior at Georgia College and State University majoring in Middle Grades Education with Math and ELA concentrations in the John H. Lounsbury College of Education. He is active in the Collegiate Middle Level Association (CMLA), which focuses on supporting professional development of future middle level teachers as well as the development and nurturing of middle level education programs. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_DSchulte

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