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Strengths-Based Teaching and Learning in Mathematics - Book Cover Look Inside

Strengths-Based Teaching and Learning in Mathematics

Five Teaching Turnarounds for Grades K-6

By: Beth McCord Kobett, Karen S. Karp

Teaching turnarounds encourage productive struggle by identifying teacher and student strengths, designing strengths-based instruction, discovering students’ points of power, and promoting strengths in the school community.

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781544374932
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Mathematics Series
  • Year: 2020
  • Page Count: 272
  • Publication date: March 10, 2020

Price: $37.95

Price: $37.95
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“This book is a game changer! Strengths-Based Teaching and Learning in Mathematics: 5 Teaching Turnarounds for Grades K- 6 goes beyond simply providing information by sharing a pathway for changing practice. . . Focusing on our students’ strengths should be routine and can be lost in the day-to-day teaching demands. A teacher using these approaches can change the trajectory of students’ lives forever. All teachers need this resource!    

Connie S. Schrock
Emporia State University
National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics President, 2017-2019

NEW COVID RESOURCES ADDED:  A Parent’s Toolkit to Strengths-Based Learning in Math is now available on the book’s companion website to support families engaged in math learning at home. This toolkit provides a variety of home-based activities and games for families to engage in together.

Your game plan for unlocking mathematics by focusing on students’ strengths.

We often evaluate student thinking and their work from a deficit point of view, particularly in mathematics, where many teachers have been taught that their role is to diagnose and eradicate students’ misconceptions. But what if instead of focusing on what students don’t know or haven’t mastered, we identify their mathematical strengths and build next instructional steps on students’ points of power?

Beth McCord Kobett and Karen S. Karp answer this question and others by highlighting five key teaching turnarounds for improving students’ mathematics learning: identify teaching strengths, discover and leverage students’ strengths, design instruction from a strengths-based perspective, help students identify their points of power, and promote strengths in the school community and at home. Each chapter provides opportunities to stop and consider current practice, reflect, and transfer practice while also sharing

·         Downloadable resources, activities, and tools

·         Examples of student work within Grades K–6

·         Real teachers’ notes and reflections for discussion

It’s time to turn around our approach to mathematics instruction, end deficit thinking, and nurture each student’s mathematical strengths by emphasizing what makes them each unique and powerful. 



Beth McCord Kobett photo

Beth McCord Kobett

Beth McCord Kobett, EdD, is Professor of Education and Associate Dean at Stevenson University, where she leads, teaches and supports early childhood, elementary, and middle preservice teachers in mathematics education. She is a former classroom teacher, elementary mathematics specialist, adjunct professor, and university supervisor. Beth also served as the Director of the First Year Seminar program at Stevenson University. She recently completed a three-year term as an elected Board Member for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and was the former president of the Association of Maryland Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMMTE). Beth leads professional learning efforts in mathematics education both regionally and nationally. Beth is a recipient of the Mathematics Educator of the Year Award from the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) and the Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumni Award. Beth also received Stevenson University’s Rose Dawson Award for Excellence in Teaching as both an adjunct and full-time faculty member. Beth believes in fostering a strengths-based community with her students and strives to make her learning space inviting, facilitate lessons that spark curiosity and innovation, and cultivate positive productive struggle.

Karen S. Karp photo

Karen S. Karp

Karen S. Karp is a professor in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. Previously, she was a professor of mathematics education in the Department of Early and Elementary Childhood Education at the University of Louisville, where she received the President’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Distinguished Service Award for a Career of Service. She is a former member of the board of directors of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and a former president of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE). She is a member of the author panel for the What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guide on assisting elementary school students who have difficulty learning mathematics for the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Educational Sciences. She is the author or coauthor of approximately 20 book chapters, 50 articles, and 30 books, including Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally, Developing Essential Understanding of Addition and Subtraction for Teaching Mathematics, and Inspiring Girls to Think Mathematically. She holds teaching certifications in elementary education, secondary mathematics, and K–12 special education.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction – An Invitation to Turnaround

     Why Strengths-Based Instruction?

     Who is Strengths-Based Mathematics Teaching For?

     What are Mathematics Strengths we See in Students?

     Exploring Your Own Math Identity

     Moving to a Strengths-Based Perspective

     Practices that Build a Strengths Cycle

     The Five Teaching Turnarounds

Chapter 1 - Identify Your Teaching Strengths

     What Do You Believe About Your Students' Learning?

     What Do Students Think You Believe?


Chapter 2 - Turnaround Mathematical Proficiencies, Processes, and Practices

     Building Mathematical Proficiency Through a Strengths-Based Lens

     Building Mathematical Practices and Dispositions Through a Strengths-Based Lens

     Building Strengths in Problem Solving

     Building Strengths in Communication

     Building Strengths in Reasoning and Proof

     Building Strengths in Connections

     Building Strengths in Representations


Chapter 3 - Your Students’ Mathematics Content Strengths

     Building Mathematical Content Knowledge Through a Strengths-Based Lens

     Building and Recognizing Strengths in the Meaning of Number and Operations and Algebraic Thinking

     Count to show how numbers represent quantity

     Count to show how numbers represent quantity

     Develop Strategies to Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide

     Building and Recognizing Strengths in Understanding Number and Operations - Fractions

     Building and Recognizing Strengths in Geometry

     van Heile’s Geometric Conceptual Understanding Level 0: Visualization

     van Heile’s Geometric Conceptual Understanding Level 1: Analysis


Chapter 4 – Turnaround Grouping Practices

     Planning Effective Strength-Based Instruction

     Fixed versus Flexible Grouping Practices

     Long-Term Whole-Class Ability Grouping

     Small-Group In-Class Ability Grouping

     Flexible Grouping Strategies

     Strength’s Based Flexible Grouping Practices

     Mixed-Strength Whole-Group Instruction

     Homogeneous-Strength Small Groups

     Targeted Small Group Instruction Through a Strengths-Based Lens


Chapter 5 – Turnaround Tasks

     High Cognitive Tasks

     Turnaround a Task: Designing a Personalized, Strengths-Based Instructional Task

     Individualized Personalization

     Funds of Knowledge

     Three Perspectives for Adapting a Task to Support Student's Strengths

     Access and Equity

     Mathematical Goals

     Formative Assessment

     Promoting Strengths Through Parallel Tasks

     Exploratory Discourse About Tasks

     Math Amendments: Revising the Task Solution


Chapter 6 - Turnaround Feedback

     The Importance of Feedback in a Strengths-Based Classroom

     Teacher-to-Student Feedback From a Strengths Perspective

     Teacher to Student Feedback Loop

     Elements of Teacher to Student Feedback

     Student-to-Teacher Feedback from a Strengths Perspective

     Prior to the Lesson

     During the Lesson

     Closing the Lesson

     Student-to-Student Feedback from a Strengths Perspective

     Classroom-Based Formative Assessment and Feedback



     Show Me

     Hinge Question

     Exit Task


Chapter 7 - Turnaround Students’ Identities

     Windows and Mirrors

     Our Teacher Mirror

     Translation Task

     Don't Miss an Opportunity to Recognize a Student's Points of Power

     Students' Productive Dispositions

     Students Self Analyze their Strong Points


Chapter 8 - Turnaround Professional Learning Communities

     Supporting Teachers' Strengths

     The Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Framework

     Whole School Agreement


Chapter 9 - Turnaround Family Communication

     Engaging Families in Strengths-Based Talk

     Incorporating Family and Community Strengths

     Working Together to Share Mathematical Ideas

     Family Math Resources

     Conferences with Family Members from a Strengths-Based Perspective


Epilogue - Turnaround Reflection