May 29, 2017

NCTM Publishing Committee: Book Reviews

A couple weeks ago I got to attend a web meeting introducing us to the roles and goals of the publishing committee. There's a twelve point charge for the team! I'm not going to go through all twelve of them (and not just because I missed point 10 in my notes). Suffice it to say we review books to determine if they should stay in the catalog, propose books that should be added, collaborate with other committees (particularly the journals), and review proposals and manuscripts.

For my first task as a committee member I get to review old books (5n years old where n is a whole number) to decide if they should continue printing, update and print a new edition, or retire the book. We have a few guidelines but I'd love to hear what you're looking for in a book from NCTM. What makes a book feel outdated? When would you be willing to buy a book that's five or ten years old? Are there any topics where it seem like there are a million books all containing basically the same information? Are there any topics where you can't find any books to help you out?

I'm thinking about blogging some noticing and wondering as I go. Any of these books you want me to start with?

We have an in person meeting in August but I have contact info for some NCTM staff members and the other committee members so if you have any other questions or concerns about publishing at NCTM please let me know. We already asked about shipping and they're looking into offering a cheaper option. I'll update you as I get more info!


  1. I'd be interested to hear your take on something like the junior high activities book, the one with the soccer ball on the cover. It just seems to me that all these math edu books essentially recycle the same core group of tasks. We're going to have a visual pattern. We're going to have the area model. We're going to have that thing with the sultan and the penny and the chess board.

    It's not like there are THAT many different types of tasks. That's how it seems to me, at least. But I'd be interested to see whether anything in the book of activities feels 'new' to you.

    The thing I wish from NCTM publishing is the thing I wish from Heinemann and Stenhouse too, which is to go a bit off-brand. I don't quite understand the dynamics of the market, but it seems to me that the major math edu publishers are very, very strongly oriented towards books about making ambitious, inquiry-based, discovery-based, problem solving-based teaching possible.

    There's so much of teaching that doesn't get represented by the major math edu publishers. Not much about homework, or quizzes, or curriculum design (for schools or individuals who feel compelled to do that work), or giving explanations, or ... I'm realizing that I could be totally wrong here, but this is my impression.

    The other thing is that the conventional author arrangements in math edu publishing seem to be that a PD or academic team get together to write a book. That's ok, but there's no variety here. It's well-known that teachers have a hard time writing, but pretty much everyone agrees that it's good to get teachers in the authorship mix. I'd love to see the big math edu publishers try to be matchmakers with academic/PD-types and teachers, and they can write a book together.

    Anyway: sorry for the rant! Excited to read more about your time on this committee.

  2. Don't apologize for sharing ideas! I'm particularly interested in the one about getting new (teacher) authors - apparently there's a backlog of proposals that the committee wants books written on but they don't have authors for them yet. I'm excited to see what kinds of proposals are in there and who we can convince to start writing!

  3. Hi Tina,
    So cool you are doing this, thank you, thank you.
    We are moving to CPM, so I even hesitate to think about curriculum, mindset, the moment.
    I am excited that NCTM is looking toward the future.
    There is so much fabulous curriculum, my questions are always about structures and organizing and optimizing assessment, as in how much homework, best practices for grading it (including student time with it), managing time for: VNPS, warm-up, productive struggle, etc, and building learning communities.