Getting the Most from Your Math Book {Free Downloadable Discussion Questions}

Have you ever really LOOKED at your math book? Use these discussion questions to make the most of it!Most students use a math book to do their assignments. But rarely do students read a math book.

But some people do use math books for other reasons. Like:

  1. To look at examples
  2. For reference
  3. To teach themselves

Regardless of why you open a math book, knowing a bit about it can be helpful. Here’re some things to ask about your math book:

What’s on the inside front and back covers?

Sometimes there are formulas, charts or other handy things there.

Also look for a quick reference card near the back that can be torn out. If there’s too much information for the front and back covers, the book might have this on a cardstock page that can be torn out.

Is there a DVD or other media included?

And what’s on it? Is it answers? Videos?

How can you use it?

What edition are you using?

Seems like a weird question, right? But if it’s the first or second edition, there may be a lot of errors.

Later editions have fewer errors. So shoot for buying 9th or 10th editions to have the best luck.

What are the visual cues?

What colors and graphics are used at the beginning of a chapter, section or example?

Are definitions in a light blue box? Are special words boldfaced in paragraphs?

What parts of the book will be most helpful to you and what are the visual cues for those?

How useful are the index and table of contents?

Is there an index? Is it big, or small? If you’re using the math book for reference, you’ll want the biggest index you can find.

Can you use the table of contents to find things? Sometimes there are two – one “nutshell” table of contents and one with details.

How are the examples presented?

Check out the details (or lack of) in the example solutions.

Are there many “sub examples” in each example?

What are there visual cues for the examples?

What’s the format of the exercises?

Some textbooks have a practice section, a “think about it” section and a challenge section. Which exercise set would be most helpful? Which is hardest?

Many exercise sets are broken up into sub-sections. Do these have hints or links back to specific examples in the textbook?

What kind of random things does the textbook include?

Are there case studies? Historical facts? Do the margins give hints?

What’s in the appendix? How might it be useful to you?

Look at your math book and…

Look at your own math, yes, AND get your students to look at theirs! Here’s a free handout you can copy and give to your students.

Take some time to talk over the questions and answers. You may be surprised at what gems you find!

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