Math: Stop Faking It! Finally Understanding Science So You Can Teach It

NSTA Press Book (also see downloadable pdf version of this book)

Flummoxed by formulas? Queasy about equations? Perturbed by π? Now you can stop cursing over calculus and start cackling over Math, another volume in Bill Robertson's accurate but amusing Stop Faking It! bestsellers.

As Robertson sees it, too many people view mathematics as a set of rules to be followed, procedures to memorize, and theorems to apply. This book focuses on the reasoning behind the rules, from math basics all the way up to a brief introduction to calculus.

Among the questions it covers: Why do you "carry" numbers when adding? Why do you need a common denominator when adding fractions? (Robertson says you don't, by the way!) Where does the number π come from? And who in the heck invented those strange formulas for area and volume, such as πr2 and (4/3)πr3? Like the other six titles in this award-winning NSTA Press series, Math provides clear explanations, irreverent illustrations, and easy-to-follow activities. But Robertson spares you problem sets to do or tests to take. That's because Math is not so much a book that helps you do math as it is a guide to understanding it conceptually.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
Publication Date

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Reviews (4)
  • on Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:09 AM

An excellent, easy to read book for anyone; from students to teachers! The book is very easy to understand and provides great clarification on all aspects provided. If all math books were this easy to read and clear cut, math wouldn't be so dreaded and challanging. This is an excellent book to help you gain a better understanding behind the math operations and rules. This book answers all of your math questions you or your students may have, from basic to more indepth! Stop Faking It has clear explanations, it’s easy to follow, and has great illustrations.

Emily Kelly  (, )
Emily Kelly (, )

  • on Fri May 02, 2008 2:14 PM

Stop Faking It! is the ideal resource for teachers, parents, or for anyone who wants to get a better understanding of both some very fundamental and more advanced math concepts. The book is meant to give educators and others a deeper understanding of why we have certain math “rules” and procedures. Most of us, especially educators who do not have a subject-specific certification, have learned “rules” for many math procedures. We know what the rule is and that it works for a particular situation, but in many cases we don’t actually know where the rule came from or why it works. This book attempts to address the where, and why of math “rules”, particularly those that apply to: • adding/subtracting/dividing/multiplying in base 10, base 5 and base 2 • finding equivalent fractions • using common denominators when adding/subtracting fractions • solving word problems • using variables • and much more! The book is most beneficial if the reader follows the suggestions of the author and reads the entire chapter pertaining to a specific concept. In each chapter there is a short preview where the author suggests some activities that help to get the reader thinking about the concept. For example, when preparing to introduce the base 10, 5, and 2 number systems, the author “assigns” activities that have the reader separating blocks into groups of ten. Next comes the explanation, where the author introduces the concept and explains it, referencing the activities the reader has just completed. Most of us have experience with base 10, and so the author builds on our prior knowledge and then guides us to transfer that understanding to the procedure for using base 5 and base 2. The combination of carefully chosen pre-explanation activities and clear, concise explanations helps the reader to “get” the reason behind the “rule” or procedure. Following the explanations, the author gives a summary and suggestions for practice. Stop Faking It! is not a large book, which makes it seem readable. The explanations are thorough, but not too wordy. There are many pictures and diagrams which help guide the reader very well. In this particular book, the author has included “guideposts”. Guideposts are reminders for the specific skill or concept being addressed. Their purpose is to help the reader stay focused on the task at hand. They are also helpful because they allow the reader to get a “preview” of what they are going to learn should they decide to purchase and read the book. Judging by what I have learned about concepts I thought I understood, I can only imagine the benefit of reading about topics I know I don’t understand. Again, the idea is that the reader gains a deeper understanding so that they are able to better teach the concepts to their students or children. Stop Faking It! Math is just one of 7 books in the series. The other six cover Science topics such as sound, force & motion, chemistry basics, electricity and magnetism, energy, and light. The series, put out by the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) Press, has won many awards for its success in helping educators and parents in their quest to help their students and better understand concepts themselves.

Whitney  (Carlisle, PA)
Whitney (Carlisle, PA)

  • on Fri Nov 02, 2007 1:15 PM

I recommended it as a possible text to colleagues who are developing a course in math for early childhood teachers. The objective of the course is to build math understanding for prek-3 preservice teachers prior to taking their math methods course. These students tend to be victims of poor math instruction and need to gain confidence. I think this book's hands-on method would be excellent for these students.

Rosalind Charlesworth  (Ogden, UT)
Rosalind Charlesworth (Ogden, UT)

  • on Tue Jul 15, 2008 1:00 PM

When I finished reading this book I found myself wishing there was even more... If only standard math books could be read as easily and math concepts shared as effectively. I've enjoyed all of my Stop Faking It! books.

Robert Gilmore  (Milford, MA)
Robert Gilmore (Milford, MA)

$15.96 - NSTA Members

$19.95 - Nonmembers

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