MAT Blog

Bring math concepts alive for students through picture books.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jul 5, 2012 4:09:00 PM

When teachers integrate literature with mathematics, they can achieve picture perfect math!Studies that promote integrating mathematics with literature show a strong correlation between learning math content and interacting with stories that have mathematics themes. (Whitin & Wilde, 1992, 1995; Burns, 1992, 1995; Zambo, 2005). Since the new common core standards in math emphasize learning fewer concepts in greater depth, extending learning through text can become a routine part of a teacher’s math curriculum.

From the time a preschool child hears a story like “The Grouchy Ladybug,” by Eric Carle (or “The Bad Tempered Labybird” as it was published in the UK), math concepts are being introduced early on, albeit covertly.  “Research supports that integrating mathematics with literature makes mathematical concepts more meaningful to young minds,” said Carole Kamerman, Independent Educational Consultant and retired educator from Kalamazoo Public Schools in Michigan. “Even though the concept is finally becoming popular, I must say I have always used picture books to support math lessons…it really works.”

As a former curriculum trainer and facilitator, including adopting curriculum for a girl’s school in Dubai, UAE, Kamerman stresses the importance of parents keeping the dialogue about math positive at home. “We need to remind parents, guardians and caregivers that saying things like, ‘I was never any good at math,’ is not acceptable anymore, there’s just too much at stake for our students,” she said.

How true. The National Academies 2010 study cites that the US ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science and engineering. This is what the Next Generation Science Standards and common core standards in mathematics stand to address in a meaningful way. It is essential that we remove the disconnect between subjects; the new science core standards—just like their math counterparts— will emphasize less rote memorization, fewer, but more specific concepts, and concentrate on the kind of science students can use for college and career pursuits.

Both sets of common core standards in science and math seek to focus on the big ideas— key concepts that can be continually used to teach a variety of skills and processes. How teachers choose to integrate subjects so that these “big ideas” resonate with students is the creative challenge.

The challenge for teachers: making sure the “big ideas” resonate with students.

In addition to rigorous instruction, we recommend that elementary school teachers, specifically, leave their biases at the door and speak about math in an upbeat way in the classroom, even if it isn’t their favorite subject. Negative views about math and science can be contagious.

“Some students are predisposed to dislike math, so anything we can do to help develop healthy attitudes about the subject is so important,” says Dr. Charles Pearson, Coordinator of the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment program. “Giving students lots of opportunities to engage in math concepts is key, and reading math-related children’s literature is one great way to do that.”

Here are some titles Dr. Pearson recommends to add to your math literacy library:

Addition and Subtraction:

“Adding Alligators” (Franco) Addition

“Centipede’s 100 Shoes” (Ross) Add/Subtract to 100

“Tar Beach” (Ringgold) Add/Subtract problems by the GCI method; African American Culture

Problem solving:

“A House is a House for Me” (Hoberman) Classification

“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” (Willems) Ask students to determine the number of buses needed for a school trip.

“Ming Lo Moves the Mountain” (Lobel) Multicultural Story

For more good titles, you can view this list from Dr. Elaine Young, Associate Professor of Mathematics, at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Pearson also stresses that when teachers choose math-related books that tie to students’ experiences, both personally and culturally, it helps children better identify with math concepts.

Kamerman agrees: “Suddenly fractions are not so scary,” she says. “…and counting money is fun when you choose a delightful and engaging book to illustrate the concept.” She recommends “Eating Fractions” by Bruce Macmillan or “Gator Pie by Louise Mathews, and “Benny’s Pennies” by Pat Brisson.

So, the more you communicate about math—talk about it, read about it, write about it—the more you extend learning for students. Try it today.

Download our free webinar on How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math and get even more tips to encourage greater math literacy in your classroom.

Tags: math literacy, on demand webinar, common core standards in mathematics, picture books

How to Achieve Picture Perfect Mathematics Instruction.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 23, 2012 5:32:00 AM

When teachers integrate mathematics with language arts, powerful learning takes place in the classroom! As common core standards in mathematics become increasingly integrated with language arts, building strong math literacy libraries will be essential for K-6 teachers. Our latest webinar airs Wednesday, June 27, designed to show elementary teachers how to use picture books to enhance math learning for their students.

Listen in on the discussion about teaching math in a different way with Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching’s Charles Pearson, Ph.D. as he presents “How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math” on Wednesday, June 27 at 4 p.m. EST.

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Pearson is a veteran educator with more than 30 years under his belt. As a former elementary school teacher for 14 years, and principal for nine, Dr. Pearson knows the challenges teachers in all environments face, day in and day out.  

Joining him in the conversation is Carole Kamerman, an Independent Educational Consultant from Battle Creek, Michigan. She’ll share her multi-faceted teacher leadership experience with our audience and present a fresh perspective on teaching across the curriculum.

Both of them agree that even if math isn’t your first love, there are many tools elementary school teachers can use to make teaching mathematics effective and lots of fun. They’ll offer ideas on how to tie children’s literature to math lessons for optimal student engagement. They’ll even suggest some titles to start your own classroom math library, if you haven’t already.

When teachers incorporate literature as part of a routine, they can see the difference it makes in even the hardest to reach students. Don’t miss this one!

Register Now for Our FREE Webinar “How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math,” June 27 at 4 p.m! Listen to our FREE webinar on demand:  How to Achieve Picture-Perfect Math

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Pearson is the Coordinator for the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Program. Retired from K-12 in 2011, Dr. Pearson brings his 30-plus years of classroom and leadership experience to the MAT program, and is looking forward to helping teachers raise student achievement through practical research-based outcomes.
Dr. Pearson earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Cognate in K-12 Superintendency from Western Michigan University. He has several publications in K-12 science to his credit, including multiple presentations for the National Science Teachers Association Annual Conferences around the country. He recently served as Field Instructor for six Detroit Public School science teacher interns through the University of Michigan/Teach For America organization.
Carole Kamerman is also retired from a full career as a classroom teacher and instructional technologist, among other teacher leadership roles in the Kalamazoo, Michigan Public Schools. She was a trainer and facilitator of the Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center elementary science curriculum, which has been adopted by more than 200 school districts in the state of Michigan, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: webinar, math literacy, common core standards in mathematics, picture books

Cultivate a lifelong love of math through children’s books.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 21, 2012 10:25:00 AM

Instill a lifelong love of math through childrens literature!Big changes are in store as school districts prepare for full implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSS-M). The new standards emphasize learning fewer concepts in greater depth and engaging students in a set of "mathematical practices." Full implementation of K-12 CCSS-M is slated for 2015.

While the Core Standards are helpful, and define what all students are expected to know and what all students must be able to do, they in no way tell teachers how to teach. Teachers will be required more than ever to use the most effective instructional practice—and look for the most efficient and creative means to an end.

“Teachers will need to rely on their creative instincts and abilities to bring out the best in their students,” says Charles Pearson, Coordinator of the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Program for the Marygrove College online Master in the Art of Teaching Program. “Every teacher knows that there is not one strategy or one lesson that works for all learners. Establishing a stronger relationship between children’s literature and mathematics is an excellent way to ensure that you make math more accessible to all elementary school students.”

Much of the primary math curricula used in the U.S. today, like Everyday Mathematics® include suggested readings to coordinate with units. Everyday Mathematics has always stressed multiple representations, communication, tools, mathematical reasoning and making sense of concepts and procedures. While the early elementary programs are often criticized for being light on math fact mastery, teachers who supplement their Everyday Math lessons with rote drill exercises find the combination to be very successful. That’s the art of teaching in action!

Using picture books to supplement math lessons demonstrates the same concept, essentially. Teachers should find what works and not fall prey to exclusively scripted teaching. Just as no two students are alike, no two teachers are alike.

“Teaching math through children’s books is a way to play to many elementary school teachers’ strengths,” Pearson says. “If a teacher is new to teaching math, or not a big fan of the subject, using literature is an effective, authentic way to model an interest in math.” 

"When we think of mathematics books, we think of non-fiction, even though mathematics itself is predominantly fiction." (Pappas, 1999)

David L. Haury wrote a synopsis of the benefits of literature and math roughly 10 years ago which still holds true, and is even more widely embraced today. He says that although some of us may feel uncomfortable with the notion that mathematics is fiction, we must realize that the concepts and procedures of mathematics are all constructions of our minds, and products of our attempts to understand our world.

By simply paying greater attention to the mathematics we find in literature, we can help students realize that mathematics— including number-crunching arithmetic— is a spontaneous and natural expression of the human experience, both real and imagined. Making a literature connection can be empowering to some learners who find numbers and numeration difficult or stressful.

Here’s how to choose the best books* to link math with children’s literature:

•Check for Accuracy. Does the book depict math concepts correctly?

•Pay Attention to Visual/Verbal Appeal. Are illustrations and language appealing and engaging to young readers?

•Make Connections. Does the story give context to math lessons and tie to (or expand) young readers’ personal experiences?

•Consider the Audience. Will the story appeal to children from varied backgrounds?

•Look for a “Wow” factor. Is the book exciting to read, and does it present new ideas or different points of view?

You can gain more tips like these at our webinar How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math with Dr. Charles Pearson on Wednesday, June 27. Register now!

Listen to our FREE webinar on demand:  How to Achieve Picture-Perfect Math

*Making informed Choices: Selecting Children’s Trade Books for Mathematics Instruction. Teaching Children Mathematics, v7, n3. Hellwig, Monroe & Jacobs (2000).

 

 

 

Tags: webinar, math literacy, common core standards in mathematics, picture books

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