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About Teaching Mathematics: A K–8 Resource, Fourth Edition


Perfect for pre-service and in-service training, professional learning communities, or for refreshing your teaching instruction.

In this fourth edition of her signature resource, Marilyn presents her current thinking and insights and includes ideas from her most recent teaching experiences.

 Part 1, “Starting Points,” reflects the major overhaul of this book and addresses twenty-three issues important to thinking about teaching mathematics today.

 Part 2, “Problem-Solving Investigations,” opens with how to plan problem-solving lessons; followed by whole-class, small-group, and individual investigations organized into five areas of the curriculum: Measurement, Data, Geometry, Patterns and Algebraic Thinking, and Number and Operations.

 Part 3, “Teaching Arithmetic,” focuses on the cornerstone of elementary mathematics curriculum, offering ideas and assessments that build students’ understanding, confidence, and competence in arithmetic.

 In Part 4, “Questions Teachers Ask,” features Marilyn’s responses to pedagogical questions she’s received from teachers over the years.

More than forty reproducibles for About Teaching Mathematics are available to download in a printable format.

Marilyn Burns

505 Pages

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About Teaching Mathematics is a book for K–8 educators that responds to the struggles that teachers wrestle with in the classroom when trying to balance procedural skills with developing deep conceptual understanding. Marilyn Burns not only addresses mathematical content, assessment, and strategies but also offers math commentary. Thought-bubble icons are dispersed throughout the investigations section to provide further explanations.

She presents a plethora of whole-class, small-group, and independent investigations that are ready to use. This book is not meant to be read cover to cover but rather is a “go-to” resource for teachers. Burns connects theory to practice and offers ideas for joining English language arts to math instruction. A link to a compilation of children’s books is also included. Responses to previously posed questions by teachers as well as information on where over forty reproducibles can be downloaded are other items that are part of About Teaching Mathematics.

A strong feature of the book is all the sticky notes written by Burns that discuss teaching tips, give management suggestions, list references where teachers can find more information about a topic, and provide some additional thoughts.

This informative and resourceful book, which is well worth its cost, can be used by teachers and preservice teachers, professional learning communities, and book study groups, as well as for professional development purposes. It is truly versatile in its potential uses in part because it is written by such a respected educator in the mathematics community.

Terri Hrina-Treharn, Rootstown Local Schools, Rootstown, Ohio
Reprinted with permission from Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, copyright 2016, by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. All rights reserved.
Page 250 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL ● Vol. 22, No. 4, November 2016

"Marilyn Burns has done it again. I started teaching math to children with her first edition of About Teaching Mathematics more than thirty years ago. Then I delved into her second edition for many years, especially for the rich collection of problem-solving activities. I embraced her third edition with graduate students in teacher education programs, specifically the 'Raising the Issues (Starting Points)' and 'Questions Teachers Ask' sections because they caused me to think hard about my own practices. Now in the fourth edition Marilyn has expanded the whole-class lessons, including 'sticky note' teaching tips and management suggestions. It's like she's always there for me, helping me teach the way I want to teach math. Thank you, Marilyn. I couldn't do what I do without your resources."

Ann Carlyle, coauthor of Teaching Preschool and Kindergarten Math and Continuing Lecturer,
Teacher Education Program, Department of Education, University of California,
Santa Barbara, California

"I think this resource and the About Teaching Mathematics course is the best resource and professional development available. Per Marilyn, 'We can't teach what we don't know, and we can't teach well what we don't understand.' As in previous editions, Marilyn addresses this critical issue; however, throughout this fourth edition she has added even more learning journeys, gently guiding readers to expand their mathematical understanding by engaging in the mathematics, written as only Marilyn can write—with clarity, warmth, and a touch of humor."

Maryann Wickett, math consultant, author, and retired teacher, grades preK–6,
San Marcos Unified School District, San Diego County, California

"'Don't mess with a good thing!' You know the saying? Marilyn Burns must disagree because she has been updating and adding to a 'good thing,' About Teaching Mathematics, for more than twenty years . . . and the fourth edition is no exception. Who wouldn't want to peek at Marilyn's personal notes? What a gift! This is a book that continues to enhance and guide my teaching, learning, and consulting. Thank you, Marilyn, for messing with a good thing . . . and continuing to make a difference in my professional and personal life."

Beth Terry, mathematics educator and consultant, Singapore; and former Math Solutions instructor

"I'm often in awe of how versatile About Teaching Mathematics is. Its contents have helped me commu- nicate with parents about effective arithmetic instruction, plan professional development workshops for teachers, and craft problem-based lessons for students from kindergarten through grade 8. After fifteen years working as a math coach, workshop leader, and classroom teacher, it remains one of my top 'go-to' resources for K–8 mathematics instruction."

Nancy Anderson, K–8 Mathematics Coordinator, Milton Academy, Massachusetts;
and coauthor of Classroom Discussions in Math

"Who'd have dreamed that this essential book could get even better? Beyond the foundational ideas for how to teach mathematics, Marilyn's personal thoughts and insights make this an incredible resource that speaks to all of us. This fourth edition of About Teaching Mathematics needs to be the centerpiece of the library of every teacher and everyone who supports those teachers."

Cathy Seeley, NCTM Past President and author of Faster Isn't Smarter and Smarter Than We Think

"About Teaching Mathematics is the most important resource in my teaching library; I've been using it for more than twenty-five years. This fourth edition will especially help teachers and administrators wrap their brains around the Common Core content and practice standards. It provides educators with a host of rich math tasks and includes clear and relatable reflections about math teaching and learning."

Rusty Bresser, Lecturer and Supervisor of Teacher Education, Education Studies Department,
University of California, San Diego, California

"About Teaching Mathematics is my first choice in resources when I want to make effective instructional decisions and improve children's ability to think and reason mathematically. Each revision of About Teaching Mathematics has offered more ideas, discussions, explanations, investigations, management suggestions, and guidance. This fourth edition is the best yet."

Jane Crawford, author of Math Reads and Why Can't I Have Everything? Teaching Today's Children
to Be Financially and Mathematically Savvy

"Marilyn's ability to continually reflect upon and improve the teaching of mathematics for more than fifty years is a gift that keeps on giving. The heart of every edition of About Teaching Mathematics has been to provide mathematics instruction that develops the concepts and skills that students need to think, reason, and understand math, and to help teachers better understand the math they teach. This fourth edition is no exception."

Lynne Zolli, classroom teacher grades 1–6, San Francisco Unified School District, California;
and author of the Math Reasoning Inventory (MRI) and the Do the Math intervention program

"I have heard Marilyn say that we can only teach what we know and understand. Marilyn has helped me really know and understand mathematics through the wide range of lessons and experiences she shares in About Teaching Mathematics. This fourth edition is a must-have resource for all teachers."

Dana Islas, 2009 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching
and author of How to Assess While You Teach Math, Grades K–2

"I gained new appreciation for the words perseverance and respect from Marilyn Burns. Through the years I have watched Marilyn encourage both children and their teachers as mathematical learners. Marilyn accepts struggle as a natural part of learning. I have personally experienced frustration as a mathematical learner; it is a great gift to be treated with respect during those moments and to be encouraged to persevere. This beautiful resource makes it clear that Marilyn perseveres in her own learning as well. I have the deepest respect for my favorite teacher, Marilyn Burns."

Vicki Bachman, elementary school teacher, Iowa City Community School District, Iowa;
Math Solutions instructor; Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) instructor; and
K–5 curriculum consultant

"In this comprehensive guide to teaching elementary mathematics, Marilyn Burns shows how to weave together lessons that are hands-on, engaging, and require students to think critically. The stand-alone lessons are also the perfect companion to any curriculum, Common Core or otherwise. About Teach- ing Mathematics is an ideal guide for new teachers, but also includes lessons and activities that will enhance the repertoire of the most veteran teacher."

Jenny Wickett, first-grade teacher, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Watsonville, California

"In 1985 I attended my first About Teaching Mathematics course. The experiences Marilyn gave me in that course forever changed me as a teacher, as a mother, and as a presenter of professional develop- ment. First, Marilyn single-handedly opened the vault doors on my mathematical potential. Then, she taught me to think about how people learn. I am a better educator because of Marilyn. Additionally, her uncanny intuition is supernatural!"

Brenda Mercado, early childhood teacher, Tucson, Arizona;Math Solutions instructor;
and coauthor of Teaching Preschool and Kindergarten Math

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