Sunday, April 5, 2009

Literacy and Math

Math is no longer just about numbers. I know kids tend to dread those word problems, I hated them myself in high school, but the connection between literacy and math is very important. In New York an integral part of the state math assessment involves writing about your mathematical thinking. It is no longer enough to produce answers, but you must explain them. 

How do we start those math connections? First, we talk to kids about their answers. How did you figure that out? Why is that correct? What strategy did you use? Those are questions that should be included in every math lesson kindergarten and beyond.

Second, we read to our kids about math. Books about math are everywhere, and I find that there is no better way to get a student engaged in a math lesson than to read them a book to start. 

Here is my list of my favorite books to start a math lesson with...

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. (don't be confused, this book is commonly used to teach probability to kindergarten students. It is engaging and helps students to articulate possible, not possible, and definite). 

2. Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni. I love love love Leo Lionni to begin with. This delightful book about measurement is a great way to introduce what standard measurement is to young students. 

3. Pictographs by Bodach and Vijaya K. Honestly, this whole series about graphing is absolutely excellent. There are bright graphics and simple stories that help to illuminate what most people would think is a hard concept for kindergarten students to understand. 

4. Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris. My students made some excellent patterns (in cut out fish) after reading this book. 

5. The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns. Well, I couldn't end this list with out a Marilyn Burns book. She is an amazing math educator and writer. You can't really go wrong with on of her books. 

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