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Teaching for Numeracy Across the Age Range

Peter Stuart Westwood
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Mary Beth Rollick
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This useful book is intended for teachers, pre-service teachers, teacher educators, researchers, parents, and tutors. It defines numeracy as “understanding and applying knowledge and skills involved in measurement, calculation, estimation, and quantitative problem solving” and emphasizes the importance of numeracy for all ages. The book belongs to the Springer Briefs in Education Series so each chapter concisely summarizes ideas on the development of numeracy and on number sense. Several characteristics make this book particularly useful: its succinct coverage of the importance and ways of developing numeracy at all ages; its extensive bibliography at the end of the book and additional online and print resources at the end of each chapter; its index so that topics such as “dyscalculia” can easily be found in the body of the book; and its international scope for ideas on nurturing numeracy.
Chapter 1 is an overview that briefly looks at the curriculums of Australia, UK, and the United States and discusses concerns over the state of numeracy and of the importance of the affective dimension in learning mathematics. URLs are provided for online resources from each country. Chapter 2 continues the overview and highlights early researchers such as Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner who proposed theories of conceptual development of numeracy. This chapter makes a case for the development of numeracy and number sense during the early years because “approximate number sense” is highly predictive of later mathematics achievement.
Each of the following chapters focuses on a different age range: preschool and kindergarten years, primary years, high school years, and adult numeracy. The chapters describe component knowledge and skills for each level and suggest ways that these can be taught, applied, and supported. Chapter 4, for example, focuses on the primary years. It advocates using strategies that move from concrete, semi-concrete, visual, semi-abstract, then abstract. Important considerations at the primary level include ensuring that a child develops both confidence and fluency in basic arithmetic and problem solving.
Since the goal of the book is to strengthen numeracy standards, Chapter 7 discusses effective teaching approaches and the importance of mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT). The chapter highlights the importance of practice with feedback and acquiring automaticity with basic facts. To this end it provides resources for practicing basic facts with application, memorizing them for fluency, and maintaining them with games. The chapter also discusses interventions and assessments and gives suggestions for determining whether an intervention is worthwhile and for multiple types of assessment options.
One of the strengths of this book is the plethora of resources offered. Each chapter ends with a listing of online resources but additional ones are offered in the text. One example of a resource with URL listed in the text is called “Teaching Your Child” and the given URL opens a web site which describes numeracy activities, games, and songs to enrich daily routines of preschool children.
A couple of the links gave an Error 404 code. Broken links are not an uncommon occurrence when listing web addresses. This book has so many resources listed that a few broken links should not cause a problem.
Mary Beth Rollick is Professor Emerita at Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio. She enjoys tutoring students to help them find the joy of mathematics as well as to understand the “why” and the “how” of mathematics.