College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan. - March 2012 > Lloyd Co-Authors New Book about Middle Grades Mathematics

Lloyd Co-Authors New Book about Middle Grades Mathematics

New book helps teachers of middle school mathematics to deepen their understanding of the topic.

Gwendolyn Lloyd(February 2012)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Gwendolyn Lloyd, Penn State professor of mathematics education, has co-authored a new book with Beth Herbel-Eisenmann of Michigan State University and Jon Star of Harvard University. The book, titled Developing Essential Understanding of Expressions, Equations, and Functions: Grades 6-8 (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2011), is part of NCTM’s Essential Understandings series. This series, edited by Penn State faculty member Rose Mary Zbiek, aims to help teachers deepen their understandings of mathematical topics that are critical to students’ learning but challenging to teach.

“One area of the school mathematics curriculum that is very important to students’ learning but also quite challenging to teach is algebra,” said Lloyd.

In the book, Lloyd and her coauthors provide opportunities for teachers to explore mathematical ideas that are central to understanding algebra in the middle grades. The book is framed by what the authors call five “big ideas”: expressions, variables, equality, representing and analyzing functions, and solving equations. Teachers are invited to investigate these ideas through a series of reflective problems and questions, as well as discussion sections that put the ideas in context and help to “unpack” the ideas.

“Our hope is that teachers can work collaboratively and discuss the problems and questions in the book—for instance in study groups or university courses,” stated Lloyd. “Some teachers, however, will read and work with the book individually. The book is written as a sort of mathematical conversation between the authors and teachers.”

Lloyd, along with Thomas Cooney and Sybilla Beckmann of The University of Georgia, previously co-authored another book in the Essential Understandings series. That book, Developing Essential Understanding of Functions for Teaching Mathematics in Grades 9-12 (NCTM, 2010), addresses functions for high school teachers.

Lloyd stated, “These books provide unique opportunities for teachers to enhance their understandings of key algebraic ideas. Algebra is so important in secondary mathematics and beyond, yet it presents an area of real struggle for many students. As we help teachers develop new understandings of algebraic ideas, we are equipping them to support their students’ learning more effectively.”