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Books on Teaching Students with Math Difficulties

One of my favorite subjects that I tutor is math and I particularly love working with kids and teens to help them reduce their math anxiety and feel successful with math. I wanted to share a couple of books that I recommend for working with kids who have difficulty with math and share a few strategies.

Book 1: Dyscalculia: Action Plans for Successful Learning in Mathematics

Dyscalculia refers to a persistent difficulty in math that continues even if a student receives appropriate instruction and practice. It might be conceptualized a mathematical equivalent to dyslexia. If you think your child may have dyscalculia, you can find some lists of signs here and here. There are various teaching strategies that can specifically be used for teaching students with dyscalculia, and you’ll find easy to use tips and strategies in this book. It also contains helpful background information on dyscalculia to help you understand it and know how to help your child (or your students if you’re a teacher). Specific topics in the book include assessment, helping students understand the number system and operations, teaching measurement and rational numbers, and helping students make mathematical connections. Book 2: Teaching Elementary Mathematics to Struggling Learners

This one reads just a little more like a textbook. However, it’s really practical and has a bunch of great examples of effective teaching strategies. The title says it’s for elementary math, but I use the strategies in the book for all ages of my students. It includes background information on math instruction along with specific teaching strategies for number sense, whole-number operations, rational-number concepts, geometry/measurement, and algebra.

Even if you use a math curriculum, I still recommend knowing these specific strategies that you can use along with your curriculum if your student is having difficulty with comprehension and/or retention of math concepts. There are specific, research-based strategies that you can use to help address these issues.

Other Books

The math curriculum that I often use is based on these books. I take the content in these books and adapt it into different lessons with specialized strategies for students with dyscalculia or other difficulties with math. Since I make individualized lessons for each student, I can also incorporate their interests into the lessons. This is a great motivational tool!

A Couple of Overall Strategies I would recommend consulting the books for specific strategies, but a few of my favorite strategies are as follows:

  • Use an "Advance Organizer"

  • Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA): this strategy involves using concrete manipulatives and visual representations of math concepts when teaching before moving on to the abstract level of working out written problems on paper. I’ll be writing a blog post on this topic soon, so please check back soon on the math section of my “teaching strategies” page. You can also find out more about the CRA approach with an online search and in the “Teaching Elementary Mathematics to Struggling Learners” book.

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