Math Doesn’t Suck

April 24, 2014
Rating: 4.0. From 1 vote.
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Math Doesn’t Suck

Content: Math
Grade(s): 3rd – 7th
Perspective: Secular
Prep Time: Minimal
Teacher Manual: No
Parent Involvement: Moderate
Cost: $ || ?
Pages: 320
Publication Date: 2008
Publisher: Plume
Date of Review: 04/24/2014
Reviewer: Alessa Giampaolo Keeener, M.Ed.

This isn’t your father’s math textbook. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to call it a math curriculum. But, if you’ve got a math-phobic kid who likes all things girly and is into pop culture then this might just be the book you need to get the learning done. Add in your own extra daily practice, like Key To workbooks, and, viola, you should be able to get that math credit onto your transcript, after all.

An essential component of any good math curriculum is one that relates the lesson to a real life application. Author, Danica McKellar does just that in one of the most accessible ways we’ve seen in reaching girls who don’t have a natural love for math.

Don’t let the talk about lipstick and boyfriends fool you, though. In some cases, they’re cleverly disguised mnemonic devices to help readers remember a certain math process. Work through this book and you will learn solid math while also getting a good share of girl empowerment messages in each chapter.

Each chapter focuses on a specific math concept. The chapter begins with a little anecdote that makes you feel like you’re huddling over milkshakes, dishing with Danica. After that, the chapter features short sections that teach the concept. Step-by-Step gives you handwritten examples and straightforward directions that walk you through the specific math process. What’s It Called covers important vocabulary. Quick Notes offer a handy review of the concept. Takeaway Tips give you extra helpful hints. And, Watch Out alerts you to math traps and mistakes that are easy to make.

As a bonus, you’ll also stumble across quotes and quizzes that challenge the reader to rethink their attitude about math, learning, and self-esteem. Styled in the fashion of tween girl magazine quizzes, parents, tutors, and teachers have a great jumping off point for talking about some of the issues that might be making math a less popular subject for your student.

A serious downside to this book is that you only get a small handful of problems to work in each of the Doing The Math sections. You’ll need to supplement with other material if you’re looking to demonstrate mastery. But, the good news is that all answers are included in the back of the book.

Chapters

Ch 1: How to make a killing on eBay (Prime Numbers and Factorization)
Ch 2: Do you still have a crush on him? (Finding the Greatest Common Factor)
Ch 3: You can never have too many shoes (Multiples and Lowest Common Multiple)
Ch 4: Everything you ever wanted to know about pizza (Intro to fractions and mixed numbers)
Ch 5: How many iced lattes can these actors drink? (Multiplying and diving fractions… and reciprocals)
Ch 6: When to seriously stop raiding the refrigerator (Equivalent factions and reducing fractions)
Ch 7: Is your sister trying to cheat you out of your fair share? (Comparing fractions)
Ch 8: How much do you and your best friend have in common? (Common denominators… adding & subtracting fractions)
Ch 9: Choosing the perfect necklace (Complex fractions)
Ch 10: What every savvy shopper should know (All about decimals)
Ch 11: Why calculators would make terrible boyfriends (Converting fractions and mixed numbers to decimals)
Ch 12: How to entertain yourself while babysitting a devil child (Converting decimals to fractions)
Ch 13: Sale of the century (Converting percents to/from decimals and fractions)
Ch 14: A choreographed performance (Mixing fractions, decimals, and percents)
Ch 15: The universal language of love… and math (Intro to word problems and “percent on/off”)
Ch 16: Does she ever get off the phone? (Ratios)
Ch 17: The perks of a southern drawl (Rates and unit rates)
Ch 18: Filmmaker extraordinaire (Proportions)
Ch 19: Are you drinking enough water? (Unit conversions)
Ch 20: Who’s the cute new foreign exchange student? (Intro to solving for “x”)
Ch 21: Romeo and Juliet (Intro to solving for “x” word problems)

About the Author:
Danica McKellar, better known for her roles on The Wonder Years, The West Wing and Dancing With the Stars, is also an internationally recognized mathematician and advocate for math education. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA with a degree in Mathematics, Danica has been honored in Britain’s esteemed Journal of Physics and The New York Times for her work in mathematics, most notably for her role as co-author of a groundbreaking mathematical physics theorem, which bears her name (The Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem.) Her passion for promoting girls’ math education began in 2000, when she was invited to speak before Congress on the importance of women in math and science.


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