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A Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers (11th edition)

Updated on March 30, 2015
Flora Crew profile image

Flo is a "professional student" with degrees in psychology and an associates in computer programming and operations.

A picture of the author as lab assistant in a computer lab at Oakton Community College.
A picture of the author as lab assistant in a computer lab at Oakton Community College. | Source

Review of Math for Elementary School Teachers

Because I am interested in education, I tutor English, math and statistics, and have also graded papers as an at home scorer in these areas. I have worked in computer labs, and helped students with technical material. To hone my educational skills in mathematics, I recently took a class in Math for Elementary School Teachers, and was able to enhance my knowledge in this area. The textbook we used for the class was "A Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers (11th edition)" by Rick Billstein, Shlomo Libeskind and Johnny W. Lott. Since I spent a goodly amount of time interacting with the text, I thought I would review the book. The book has fourteen chapters and covers everything from Number Theory to Geometry.

I was under the illusion that since I already had taken a lot of math in college prior to taking a class for teachers that the information would be mostly review. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself challenged with the math as well as the understanding of developmental issues involved in teaching. I put my knowledge of psychology as well as math to work and still learned quite a bit of new material as well on how to convey concepts to students.

The book covered problem solving, number systems, set theory, algebra, plane and solid geometry, graphs, statistics and analysis of data. There was information on whole numbers, real numbers, and rational numbers. Besides all the math content, the book discussed grade level expectations for understanding various topics. In addition to the exercises related to understanding the concepts, there were also problems in the book related to what the expectation for depth of understanding should be at different grade levels.

I especially liked learning about different number systems prior to ours such as the Egyptian and that of the Aztecs. Since I have studied psychology I also found interesting the ideas related to the age or grade level at which a person would understand certain concept and to what depth. I would definitely recommend this book as an aid in learning this topic.

Later, in a speech class, I made use of what I had learned about Mayan mathematics to choose their early knowledge of math as my topic for our group cultural project on the Mayas.


Online Vs Hard Copy

Reader's Choice

There is an online version of the book which is the one I used as wells as a hard copy text. I chose the online version because it was less expensive overall and also because I had free access to it and didn't have to pay for it until a few weeks after the class started. The online version that I had was put out by Pearson Education and there were extra features such as online homework and tests.

It is up to you as to which version will distract you (or your cat) less.

Nice Features of the Billstein book


Some of the nice features of the Billstein book were the inclusion of diversity such as giving explicit information about the counting systems of the Aztecs and the Egyptians. There were also some interesting tidbits about women in math. For example, in talking about tessellations, geometrical designs created by a recurring geometrical figure in which all the space is covered, the text mentioned that a woman without formal training had discovered in the latter part of the last century two tesselations that mathematicians had not know about previously. I got so interested in tessellations that I read up some on it myself by googling it on the web.

Math for the elementary school teacher - Pedagogy

This is a review of a book for Math for Elementary School Teachers. There are other books on the topic but I thought this one was quite good.

A Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers
A Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers

This was a great book. It had great ideas for teaching concepts as well as a thorough grounding in the concepts themselves.


Links to more information about Tesselations

I became interested in tessellations when reading the text and looked up so more information about them on the web.

Study Aids for Math for Elementary School Teachers - Walking the walk

If you are going to teach mathematics, you need to practice learning the tools of the trade. Here are some aids you might want to purchase.

Westcott Non-Shatter Ruler, Clear, 12 Inches,(13862)
Westcott Non-Shatter Ruler, Clear, 12 Inches,(13862)

You are going to need a ruler or straight edge to do the problems in the boo.

Casio FX 260 Solar II Scientific Calculator, Black
Casio FX 260 Solar II Scientific Calculator, Black

You will want a calculator but not an advanced one because you will be tested on your knowledge of how to do some functions.


What helped you to learn math as a youngster?

Math for Elementary School Guestbook - Important concepts

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    • Flora Crew profile imageAUTHOR

      Flora Crew 

      5 years ago from Evanston, Illinois

      @RoadMonkey: Hi RoadMonkey, thanks for your comments. I did not take as many math classes in high school as I should have either. I am enjoying learning more about it now.

    • RoadMonkey profile image


      5 years ago

      I am not sure what helped me learn maths as a youngster, certainly my father drilled me in the multiplication tables, which I may not have liked at the time but which has stood me in good stead for many years now, I always had an interest in it and would have taken it in senior school but the temporary maths teacher they got (because there was a shortage of maths teachers) put me off it. I am actually thinking of going back and learning more maths. I also think it's useful for parents and grandparents and any other carers to understand about maths teaching, so they can help their children for school.

    • Flora Crew profile imageAUTHOR

      Flora Crew 

      5 years ago from Evanston, Illinois

      Yeah, I was always trying to get my youngest nephew to play school with me. I think he hated that worse than he hated real school.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      5 years ago

      My older sister was the greatest help to me in learning math in school, but I'm afraid that I've never developed much of a love of numbers in spite of her best efforts to tutor me. :)


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