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A Resource For Teaching Middle School Girls

The review of a website for this week looks at Danica McKellar --successful actress, recognized UCLA mathematics major, and now....author. Danica is a Jill-of-all-trades!

Danica's first published book is Math Doesn't Suck: How To Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail. The focus of the book is put Danica in the role of "personal tutor and coach" to help middle school students "finally 'get' fractions, decimals, rates, ratios, proportions, 'solving for x,' and more." That is, the book focuses on teaching mathematics using the language and world of a middle school student.

As you might expect, the book is directed more at middle school females than males, especially with chapter titles such as

  • "You Can Never Have Too Many Shoes" [multiples and LCM]
  • "Why Calculators Would Make Terrible Boyfriends" [converting fractions and mixed numbers to decimals]
  • "The Universal Language of Love...and Math" [introduction to word problems and "percent of"/"percent off"]
  • "Does She Ever Get Off the Phone" [ratios]
  • "Choosing the Perfect Necklace" [complex fractions]
  • "Are You Drinking Enough Water?" [unit conversions]
  • "Who's the Cute New Foreign Wxchange Student" [ Introduction to "solving for x"]
I kid you not with the above chapter titles. And, I must admit that Danica's book includes a fresh perspective, if one wants to try to "help" middle school girls in this context. The book includes a wide collection of problems with solutions, step-by-step (i.e. rote) instruction on "how to...," "tricks" for homework and tests, personal advice from Danica as math student-turned-actress, and perhaps the best part, real world examples of uses of mathematics in a middle school girl's life.

The book has been a huge success. i.e. someone bought the book besides myself. In fact, it has become a best-seller, and was listed as one of Amazon's "100 Best Books of 2007."

Finally, you should be warned....Danica has just announced that she has written a second book, Kiss My Math, which will be available in you local bookstores on August 2008. Who knows...books such as these might help....since regular texts often are avoided like a plague. I can hardly wait...and plan to do a pre-order today!