Young Math

Submitted By:
Karlyn Adler, The School at Columbia University, New York, NY

But Why Does It Work?: Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Classroom by Susan Jo Russell, Deborah Schifter, Reva Kasman, Virginia Bastable, & Traci Higgins
Heinemann, April 4, 2017 

This book focuses on the art of teaching mathematical argument in elementary classrooms. Instead of honing in on how to support students in solving individual problems, the authors present a protocol and sample lesson structures to help teachers engage their classes in mathematical argument, representation, and discussion. This type of mathematical teaching allows students to make generalizations about the behaviors of different operations, leading to a deep understanding of how numbers and operations relate to one another, as well as the ability to apply this understanding to a variety of problems. The authors also discuss and encourage “productive lingering,” inspiring teachers to give their classes the time and space to unpack different problems and patterns, instead of solely focusing on solving the problem at hand. Such practice allows for more abstract discussions, focused on deriving rules and generalizations about different operations. The authors worked with teachers across elementary grade levels to develop and refine these protocols and lesson plans, and they present their findings in a clear and concise manner, including links to videos, so that teachers can easily apply this mathematical framework in their classrooms. 

Teaching Practice