ERIC Identifier: ED464807
Publication Date: 2001-12-00
Author: Haury, David L.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Science Mathematics and Environmental Education Columbus OH.
Literature-Based Mathematics in Elementary School. ERIC Digest.
"When we think of mathematics books, we think of non-fiction, even though mathematics itself is predominantly fiction" (Pappas, 1999).
Some of us may feel uncomfortable with the notion that mathematics is fiction, but the concepts and procedures of mathematics are all constructions of our minds, products of our attempts to understand our worlds, real and imaginary. Some mathematical ideas have obvious practical applications in our everyday lives, while other ideas seem very abstract, with little apparent connection to life as most of us experience it. All mathematical ideas, though, take shape through our attempts to communicate, and therefore find their way into our literature. Having an inherent sense of number (Dehaene, 1997), we express mathematical ideas in stories, essays, poems, books, and other forms of literature that convey life experiences, real or imagined. One way of connecting school mathematics to everyday life, then, is to draw attention to the mathematics embedded in the literature of everyday life, to reveal the mathematics inherent in human thinking and communication about life experiences.
BENEFITS OF THE LITERATURE CONNECTION
Despite the many suggestions and reasons for incorporating literature into mathematics instruction, however, relatively few formal studies of the benefits of literature-based mathematics have been reported. Hong (1996) did find that kindergartners exposed to story-related mathematics exhibited a greater preference and aptitude for mathematics activities than did those of a comparison group. Whitin and Whitin (2000) explored the ways in which fourth-grade students use story, metaphor, and language to develop mathematical thinking skills and strategies, and their book offers ideas for using children's literature to inspire mathematical investigations and to teach mathematical concepts. Another research group (Karp, Brown, Allen, & Allen, 1998) examined the use of role models in children's literature to promote conceptual understanding and passion for mathematics among girls. In each of these studies, the value of literature-based mathematics instruction seems to be affirmed, but in what ways can literature be incorporated into mathematics instruction?
WAYS TO USE CHILDREN'S LITERATURE IN TEACHING MATHEMATICS
1. To provide a context or model for an activity with mathematical content.
2. To introduce manipulative's that will be used in varied ways (not necessarily as in the story).
3. To inspire a creative mathematics experience for children.
4. To pose an interesting problem.
5. To prepare for a mathematics concept or skill.
6. To develop or explain a mathematics concept or skill.
7. To review a mathematics concept or skill.
Though any given book could likely be used in multiple ways, the common element in these various approaches is the intent to use literature to provide vicarious mathematical experiences based on real problems or situations of interest to teachers and students.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTEXT
This book provides annotated bibliographies of children's literature books emphasizing mathematics education. Each review describes the book's content and accuracy, its illustrations and their appropriateness, the author's writing style, and indicates whether activities for the reader are included. Chapters in this book include: (1) Early Number Concepts; (2) Number-Extensions and Connections; (3) Measurement; (4) Geometry and Spatial Sense; and (5) Series and Other Resources.
Use the search engine provided by this Web site to find standards, readings, and activities related to integrating mathematics and literature at all grade levels.
Focus on Using Children's Literature in Math and Science
This is an online version of a magazine produced by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education.
Children's Literature in the Mathematics Classroom
An extensive directory of online and printed resources, including a listing of citations from the ERIC database.
The Literature-Math Connection
A listing of children's books that relate to counting, estimating, fractions, geometry, graphing, measurement, money, number relationships, pattern, probability, sorting, and time.
Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site
In addition to reviews of books, this Web site offers activities and ideas for using children's literature in many subject areas, including mathematics.
FINDING RESOURCES IN THE ERIC DATABASE
SEARCHING THE WEB FOR ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Dehaene, S. (1997). "The number sense," Oxford University Press.
Hebert,T. & Furner,J. (1997). High ability students overcome math anxiety through bibliotherapy. "Journal of Secondary Gifted Education," 8 (4), 164-78.
Hong, H. (1996). Effects of mathematics learning through children's literature on math achievement and dispositional outcomes. "Early Childhood Research Quarterly," 11 (4) 477-94. [EJ 550 959]
Jacobs,A. & Rak,S. (1997). Mathematics and literature-A winning combination. "Teaching Children Mathematics," 4 (3), 156-57. [EJ 556 192]
Karp, K., Brown, E. T., Allen, L., & Allen, C. (1998). "Feisty females: Inspiring girls to think mathematically." Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. [ED 437 284]
Melser, N. & Leitze,A. (1999). Connecting Language Arts and Mathematical Problem Solving in the Middle Grades. "Middle School Journal," 31 (1), 48-54. [EJ 618 638]
Murphy, S. J. (2000). Children's books about math: Trade books that teach. "New Advocate," 13 (4), 365-74. [EJ 617 808]
Pappas, T. (1999). "Mathematical footprints: Discovering mathematical impressions all around us." San Carlos, CA: Wide World Publishing, p. 149.
Smith,N. L., Babione, C., & Vick, B. J. (1999). Dumpling soup: Exploring kitchens, cultures, and mathematics. "Teaching Children Mathematics," 6 (3), 148-52. [EJ 597 952]
Usnick, V. & McCarthy,J. (1998). Turning adolescents onto mathematics through literature. "Middle School Journal," 29 (4), 50-54. [EJ 615 455]
Welchman-Tischler, R. (1992). "How to use children's literature to teach mathematics." Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Available online at http://watt.enc.org/online/ENC2285/ 2285.html.
Whitin, P. & Whitin,D. J. (2000). "Mathematics is language too: Talking and writing in the mathematics classroom." Urbana, IL and Reston VA: National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. [ED 438 537]