+ “Math Doesn’t Suck” — Book for Surviving Middle School Math

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Danica McKellar has written this book because reseach has shown that math scores drop when kids hit middle school — especially for girls.  “Math Doesn’t Suck”, while directed at girls, could be useful no matter who you are, if you don’t mind all the girly stuff around the  real material. 

Just who is Danica McKellar?  Besides the beautiful, smiling young woman on the book jacket, dressed in totally cool kid-friendly garments?  (No scary, prim math teacher here…)

Get this: Danica McKellar is best known for her roles on The Wonder Years and The West Wing.

She is also an internationally recognized mathematician and advocate for math education.

She is a summa cum laude graduate of UCLA, with a degree in Mathematics. 

She has been honored in Britain’s esteemed Journal of Physics and The New York Times for her work in mathematics.

She is coauthor of a groundbreaking mathematical physics theorem which bears her name  (The Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem).

McKellar wrote this book most especially for middle school girls, who get damaging social messages that “girls can’t do math,” and that they should be afraid of it.  In the book, she serves as personal tutor and coach, helping students to “get” fractions, decimals, rates, ratios, proportions, “solving for x” — and more.

Each chapter features

  • Easy to follow, step-by-step instruction
  • Time-saving tips and tricks for homework and tests
  • Illuminating practice problems with detailed solutions
  • Real-world examples — from how understanding percents can make a student a savvier shopper, to how understanding proportions can make her (or him) a better chef!
  • True stories from Danica’s own life as a terrified math student, confident actress, and everything in between.

The book includes a Trouble-shooting guide to help students get unstuck (see below).   And importantly, Web sites!

The opening pages, titled “How to Use This Book,” tell us that the book focuses on middle school math topics.  Students can

  • skip directly to chapters that will help them with tonight’s homework
  • or skip to the math concepts that have always been problems for them,
  • or they “can, in fact, read this book from beginning to end and refer back to each chapter’s ‘Takeaway Tips’ for quick refreshers.”   

She does say it’s good if students are already comfortable with both times tables and long division  –but don’t worry if not.  She has a Web site at www.mathdoesntsuck.com, where students will find a quick review of long division; and at the back of the book, there are multiplication tables.

Also at the back of the book, the “Troubleshooting Guide” which deals with these topics:

  • “Math bores me to death.”
  • “When it’s time to do math, I get scared and try to avoid it.”
  • “I get confused and lost during class.”
  • “I think I understand something, but then I get the wrong answer in my homework.”
  • “My homework is fine, but when it comes time for a test, I freeze up and can’t remember anything.”

So just flip to page 265 at any time for solutions to all the above.

And Danica’s “Smart Girl’s Resource Guide” suggests some Web sites.

“Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail,” by Danica McKellar, is published by Hudson Street Press, 2007.  ISBN 978-1-5946-039-2 (hardcover); $23.95.

tutoring (reading) in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

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