Posts Tagged ‘math concepts’
Storytelling is a fun way to find meaning in many concepts whether it be the reasons a family would want to immigrate to America, how a seedling grows into a plant or what makes a zero so important. In fact, using personification in math to create stories can really help students to understand concepts.
Imagine the digits. I’d be willing to bet, you could put a gender to each of the ten digits. If I asked you to, you might even be able to draw the character that each digit personifies adding in details about color choice and character traits. (That would be a fun Big Universe writing project!)
If prompted, you could probably come up with a story that explains how two numbers can go through a factory and come out with a new product. Let’s face it, students everywhere are faced with “story problems” on a regular basis. From buying apples, to sharing sticks of gum, to setting up a room full of chairs, students work with the stories behind the equations to make math come alive.
Stories help make sense of things, even abstract concepts. For example, we all know the importance of a zero in mathematics. What better way to explain it than in a story?
This past week’s featured publisher, Charlesbridge, has published a book called A Place for Zero that does just that. This fun story tells about a zero who goes on a journey through Digitaria to figure out his place. With some intelligent play on words here and there, the story touches upon the identity property as well as place value.
I read this story to my fourth graders who have studied these concepts over the years and they enjoyed the story as well as the fresh view on the importance of the Zero. Here, a story helped to bring those math ideas to life in a very creative way and got the students discussing them as they reviewed the story.
There are many books here at Big Universe that cover many math concepts from stories illustrating mathematical ideas to putting math in the context of the world around us.
Check out the great collection here at your fingertips and consider sharing your favorite math book with us in a comment!
Posted on September 13, 2012 by Terry Doherty in Classroom Ideas, Personal Experiences, Reading Lists.
Tags: book review, Books, humor, Math books for kids, math concepts, Math picture books, nonfiction picture books, read alouds, Standards of Learning, Sylvan Dell Publishing
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I must confess: math is not my strong suit. I am a Word Girl. Still, as we point out to my nearly 11-year-old daughter, math is part of our everyday life. We use it all the time … often without realizing it.
About six years ago, we discovered Sylvan Dell’s series of math-based picture books. The publisher had sent me some titles to review for The Reading Tub, my nonprofit. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. My daughter was in Kindergarten and the concepts offered by One Odd Day, My Even Day, and My Half Day were just what we needed. In fact, she enjoyed them so much she took them to school to share with her classmates. As my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher said “[These books] succeed in getting the kids excited about math. You can’t ask for more than that.”
What began with One Odd Day has now gone on to include picture books that help kids with concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. With the exception of The Great Divide by Suzanne Slade (division) , we have not seen the other titles. Still, I’m betting they are just as wonderful as these three …
One Odd Day
by Doris Fisher and Dani Sneed; illustrated by Karen Lee
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2006
Is it really possible? This is truly odd! From the numbers on the clock, to the sleeves on his shirt, our young student has a day filled with nothing but odd numbers. Even Princess, his dog, has five legs! This rhyming book helps children learn and distinguish odd numbers.
- The class (25 Kindergarteners) laughed their way through the numbers, pointing out lots of the smaller elements in the illustrations.
- Humorous illustrations and a rhyming story combine to help kids identify odd numbers from 1 to 99. A coloring activity at the back helps them create visual effects of number patterns for themselves.
- “I love these books and I’m going to order them for my classroom.”
- You’ll want to have it at home for several of the early math years, because it will help reinforce learning in a way that makes sense to them.
My Even Day
by Doris Fisher and Dani Sneed; illustrated by Karen Lee
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2007
What would you do if your mom had two heads and you had two left shoes? How would you handle the class trip to the zoo? Such are the dilemmas our young student faces when he wakes up and realizes that everything in his day is an even number!
- The Kindergarten class (25 kids) had a lot of fun with the story. They liked the silliness of it and there was plenty of laughter.
- We read this with One Odd Day so when we got to the end and our student sees only half his hair, they were ready to read about fractions!
My Half Day
by Doris Fisher and Dani Sneed; illustrated by Karen Le
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2008
In words and imagery, My Half Day walks children through the portions of life. This is a humorous fantasy that builds learning fractions into the story.
- Our daughter has been waiting anxiously for this book ever since her class read My Even Day. She laughed her way through the book, pointing out the differences, changes, and otherwise funny things (like camp counselors on skates).
- This is fun to read, and the illustrations offer lots of opportunities for exploring (with or without reading the text). It will take a couple more readings before our child gets past the humor of the story and settles in to its lessons.
- For kids who are just learning fractions or are struggling with them, this would be a handy book to have. It’s much more fun than flashcards.
Last week, I wrote a post about some of the great resources you can find on Big Universe that apply math concepts to real life. The series I wrote of shows how math relates to the everyday things we do. It is called “Math in Our World” from Weekly Reader. There are at least 8 books in the series and each one tells a story about kids using math as they do things such as have a party or look at the world around them.
I also wrote about how I assigned a challenge to some of my students to read through these books and then start to create their own version of it. I am happy to say that the students are very involved with and motivated by their projects. In fact, each day, the students are at my desk first thing in the morning asking me when they can go to the computer lab to work on their collaborative, math infused books. This project has really only begun, but it has brought many things to light.
Motivation – I knew the kids would enjoy this project, but I didn’t think they would be SO overwhelmingly excited and self-motivated. They have truly taken the bull by the horns on this one. I’m just coaching them along.
Organization -My students have thought through and organized everything from deciding which student’s Big Universe account to use to create the book to finding the time to work in the library or Computer Clubhouse. One group has even been creating a storyboard, writing out plans of what pictures they need, where they can take them, and checking them off a list as they go.
Collaboration -Each group was created by the kids. In other words, I didn’t choose their partners for this project and it has been working out great. So far, they are communicating really well as they share ideas and work through the decision making process. They have been sharing the load and assigning each other jobs such as photographer and typist, as well as sharing the fun parts like creating backgrounds on pages and uploading photos.
Use of Technology -It’s been fun watching the kids use the writing features on Big Universe. For some, it took a little extra time to get used to the tools and for others it was like second nature. One group has discovered that you can upload photos into a book and that has led to the use of the digital camera. One challenge we have had is that our student computer is not very good, fast or reliable. The students have learned patience and have been seeking out the other resources we have in the building.
Taking the Initiative – As I said, every morning, the kids are waiting to discuss times they can go around the school and take pictures or times they can spend on school computers. My job has simply been to say yes and guide them to the right place at the right time. The rest has been ALL them! It’s a teacher’s dream come true: students taking ownership of their own learning!
Grading Criteria – The students and I spent some time this week discussing the criteria we should be using to create such an ebook. We decided on three FCAs (Focus Correction Areas):
- B (introduces the story), E (concludes the story)
- M (includes 3+ math equations with illustrations)
- Glossary with 3+ math terms that are included in the story
I highly recommend this type of project for your students. It has been a wonderful use of time for some of my advanced students who always do good work quickly. They have been excited about their learning and they have worked with each other very well. Other students have seen what they’ve been doing and are excited when I tell them that they will have the chance next month. My hope is that this group can instruct the next group on the challenge.
It has been fun to use Big Universe to integrate reading, writing, math and technology, not to mention the numerous 21st century skills that have driven the assignment.
I hope to write a part three soon and share the students’ ebooks.
We always want math to be practical and relevant for our students. We want them to see the value in learning the concepts. Math is everywhere, but sometimes our students don’t notice it.
Just the other day, I came across a series of books that shows how math relates to the everyday things we do. It is called “Math in Our World” from Weekly Reader. There are at least 8 books in the series and each one tells a story about kids using math. In Making a Model with Solid Figures, kids recreate a playground with 3D shapes they find in their own homes. In Graphing Favorite Things, kids use data collection strategies to plan a neighborhood party. Using Math at the Class Party is a different scenario where math equations are shown and explained in story form at an end of year party.
These books are simple and straight forward. They explain basic concepts in math very well and are a great model for writing similar math stories.
I showed the last book mentioned to a small group just yesterday and then challenged them to create their own math book on Big Universe to explain or pose a question about math in the classroom. This type of assignment requires some high order thinking and collaboration for sure! Once they all read the book and added it to their shelf, this group of students needed to think of a story that would lend itself naturally to math, write a storyline and think of equations they could showcase.
This week, I will get more details from them to see in what direction they are heading and offer guidance. I hope to give you an update on their progress with their book next week.
Big Universe offers grade-leveled math books for teachers and homeschooling parents, who are laying foundational math skills. The books present the subject in a positive light, which is half the battle.
Getting Started with Math, the series by Weekly Reader, uses age appropriate vocabulary and vibrant photographs to convey the relevance of math in daily life while reinforcing reading and interpretive skills for the K-Grade 1 crowd.
“The books in the Getting Started with Math series are designed to support young readers in the earliest stages of literacy,” says literacy coach Susan Nations of Weekly Reader. “Readers will love looking at full-color photographs and illustrations as they develop skills in early math concepts. This integration allows young children to maximize their learning as they see how thoughts and ideas connect across content area.”
Weekly Reader also has published the Math in Our World study aid for Grade 2 and up. Sylvan Dell Publishing offers math books, including “One Odd Day” and “My Even Day,” which won Learning Magazine’s Teachers’ Choice Award for Children’s Books in 2008. Charlesbridge Publishing introduces the Pythagorean Theorem and the idea of ratios in “What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?” and “Pythagoras and the Ratios.”
Math Titles on Big Universe
My husband is a mathematics professor at Furman University. He teaches concepts that are at the other end of the spectrum, and yet he sees the value of these simple picture books for children.
“Stimulating material is essential, and a positive attitude toward math is paramount,” he says. “Somewhere between birth and college, kids are being labeled “good at math” or “bad at math.” So many people think they are born that way; however, the vast majority is simply exposed to dull, dry teaching. I see the evidence of that all the time. These college kids are bright, but somewhere they’ve gotten off track. Somewhere, someone has said, ‘Ew-w-w, math! I hate math,’ and the child starts equating mathematics with stewed beets and the smell of skunks. So, a good foundation is important. I love the positive approach these Big Universe books take. Math supports the whole world. It’s relevant!”
NOTE: (Oct. 5, 2010) You might be interested in reading a paper by several Sydney scholars, titled “Mathematical Attitudes, Beliefs and Achievement in Primary Pre-service Mathematics Teacher Education” (Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 2005-2006). It has an expansive list of references at the end for those who would like to do further reading on this topic.
NOTE: (Feb. 2, 2011) Big Universe has added a mathematics reference volume to its virtual bookshelf. It looks like a good book to have on your desk if you teach elementary and middle school math. Check it out: “Rourke’s World of Science Encyclopedia, Volume 8: Mathematics.”
“The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry, and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.” – Aristotle
Aristotle appreciated math. So do my husband, father-in-law and sister-in-law. They made it their livelihoods. As for me…well, if push came to shove, I’d plead The Fifth.
However, I did read a well-written essay by Benedict Carey, titled “Studying Young Minds, and How to Teach Them.” It appeared as part of a series in The New York Times last month. Unfortunately it was published on Dec. 20 – just a few days before Christmas. I doubt it got the notice it deserved, but I found it fascinating and think teachers and parents will find it and the rest of the series interesting too.
Carey talks about how cognitive neuroscience research is challenging the way educators have traditionally taught math and other concepts to young children. While some of these findings may have trickled their way into the classroom, I think the information bears repeating. Numerous brain science studies and researchers are cited, as well as a few teachers who have incorporated these new ideas into their classrooms through fun math games, activities and reading.
“Teaching is an ancient craft, and yet we really have had no idea how it affected the developing brain,” said Kurt Fischer, in The New York Times article. Fischer is the director of the Mind, Brain and Education program at Harvard. “Well, that is beginning to change, and for the first time we are seeing the fields of brain science and education work together.”
For those of you on the front lines in the classroom, please weigh in! Give the article and its readers’ comments a look and then offer your feedback here. Does this article resonate with you? Are you applying any of these principles in your math curriculum? Or are your hackles up? I’d like to hear what you have to say.
If you are looking for some basic math concept picture books, Big Universe offers about two dozen online options from its publishing partners. Members also have created many volumes about math and counting, and you and your students can do the same.