Monday, February 6, 2012

Math Exchanges - Brilliant!

I woke up Saturday thinking about my dinner plans and realized I never posted about reading Math Exchanges this past fall.  I was having dinner that evening with a group of teachers and Kassia Omohundro Wedekind the author of Math Exchanges would be there.  I apologized for not sharing my thoughts sooner than this and told her the book is brilliant.  It truly is.  I have read a lot of professional math books and Kassia brings to the profession some new thinking, organization, and much needed thinking for working with children in small groups.

"Being a reflective learner often involves slowing down our thinking and really analyzing what is behind what we are doing."  When we talk about reading lives and reading strategies this is exactly what we are hoping for.  Kassia guides the reader and shows us how to do this mathematically.  Math exchanges is when teachers work with small groups of children.  I love the words Kassia's uses to describe these sessions;  joy, rigor, reflect, deep understanding, nurture, and construct.

I found Chapter 4 to provide some really new thinking for me.  I've always used problem solving and asked students to share their strategies.  However, I never thought about understanding problem types.  Kassia introduced me to Cognitively Guided Instruction.  It's really about the articulation and having a common language for different types of problems.  There are join and separate problems and within each there are three more types.  Kassia is constantly giving you examples of each type and describes student thinking as they are problem solving.  She also includes work with multiplication and division.  I also can't help but mention a special chapter is devoted to kindergarten and the importance of counting.  This book is listed as a K-3 book but I really think if you believe in a workshop model for teaching, teachers in 4 and 5 will benefit from reading this text.

It was a pleasure to meet you in person Kassia at dinner!  I was a bit jealous Nicole's Book Nook got to sit directly next to you during dinner, I could of talked all night about math and K students. Thank you for spending time with my Ohio friends while you were in town.


  1. Hi Mandy,

    Just catching up after the wonderful whirlwind trip to Columbus. It was wonderful meeting you in person. I wish we had more time to chat. I'm sure our paths will cross again. Thank you so much for your words about my book.


  2. Mandy,
    I too enjoyed reading Kassia's book. I found it to be perfectly timed as we are moving away from using Everyday Math. It really helped me to think about developing the young mathematicians in my classroom. Her connections to literacy really helped me to think about math and, as you know, I enjoyed thinking about math stories in a new way. I'm going to reread the book with #1stchat beginning February 29th. I think revisiting it this time of year will be helpful.