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Math Puzzles and Games, Grades 6-8: Over 300 Reproducible Puzzles that Teach Math and Problem Solving

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In the 1950s we punished misbehaving students in middle school or junior high school by making them stay after school to do 100 multiplication or long-division math problems. Mathematics was taught in a highly ordered and mechanically repetitive manner with the objective being to master basic arithmetic skills. A decade later New Math emerged as a response to the Soviet Union’s early dominance in the race to outer space. The focus in the classroom shifted from drill to conceptual understanding to prepare students for early exposure to advanced mathematics. This theoretical approach failed miserably because middle school students entering high school did not possess the arithmetic skills necessary to do calculations in mathematics and science courses.

Consequently, the 1970s saw a backlash and the Back-to-the-Basics movement emerged. During the last three decades we have witnessed the emergence of several more movements in mathematics education attempting to balance the mastery of computational skills and conceptual understanding. These movements included a problemsolving approach, a high-tech calculator/computer approach, and a mathematical user-friendly approach. Why have all these movements fallen short? The number-one complaint about mathematics from students is: Math is boring! Perhaps, in the 21st century there should be a Math for Fun movement that makes mathematics exciting, challenging, and rewarding.
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