The Power of Two – Linking Literature with Mathematics

My passion for wonderful picture books and excitement of teaching math in engaging, relevant ways has helped me link the power of literature with mathematics. Both Literacy and Numeracy involve the interconnection of skills and concepts, have developmental patterns of learning and focus on thinking and making sense. We want our students to comprehend when they read and to understand the math they are doing. Engaging picture books can be effective vehicles for motivating children to think and reason mathematically. Often the books can provide a starting point to introduce a new mathematical concept. By reading and acting out a story, all our learners have the opportunity to absorb the information – our auditory learners hear the story, our visual learners see the story and our kinesthetic learners can feel the story. It is all about the learners. It is still important that we provide the concrete tools for our students to explore and make their own connections using manipulatives. Good books do not replace hands-on experiences. Choose one of the books and tasks included in this presentation and discover ways that will allow all your students to build mathematical understanding and make connections to math in their world. Enjoy!

Building the Bridge – Linking Reading and Writing

The Golden Oldies are still important. Resurrecting the tools from long ago happened at our last session on April 8, 2013. The session ‘Building a Bridge ~Linking Reading and Writing’ was well attended by passionate Primary educators.  Lillah and I began our teaching using the ‘Ann Ingham’ tool sounds and their stories.  We noticed that somewhere along the journey, these valuable tools have disappeared or are often hidden in classrooms.  One teacher commented on how she felt relieved that she “doesn’t have to feel bad about using the tools with the stories” with her students.  Somehow she felt that these ‘tools and their stories’ were not seen as ‘best teaching practices’. We revived and recreated the tools to be more appealing and updated for today’s classrooms.

Students need to make connections and learn to apply ‘phonetic tools’ to their reading and writing.  Explicitly teaching these tools and allowing the students to explore, discover and make inquiries with them is required.  Our role as a teacher is to fill the students’ lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences that are both playful and purposeful.  Asking students to fill in worksheets does not meet the criteria.  Searching for words, applying the tools, and authentic practice ways allows students to make connections.

Research supports that reading and writing are different processes that share a reciprocal relationship.  Understanding this will allow us to scaffold and differentiate our instruction for our learners.  By providing them with the right ‘tools’ they will ensure what they read and write makes sense, sounds read and looks right.

BCAMT New Teachers’ Conference

The BCAMT New Teachers’ Conference was held in Surrey, B.C. on February 16, 2013.  The participants were eager to extend their knowledge and understanding about helping their students understand the math they are doing.  Throughout the day there was a clear message that students need to be engaged in their own learning and comprehend the math they are doing.  I presented a session for a wonderful group of K – Gr. 2 teachers about building a solid mathematical foundation using one of the many tools available.  We focused on using ten frames to develop number sense.  The group agreed that by using ten frames students are able to use a visual organizer to help them make sense of subitizing and partitioning numbers.

New Teachers’ 2013

What Do I Do With These Cuisenaire Rods?

Cuisenaire rods are one of the mystery manipulatives.  Often people ask me “What do I do with them?”  Cuisenaire rods are a versatile collection of rectangular rods of ten colours, each colour corresponding to a different length.  They can be used to develop a wide variety of mathematical ideas at many different levels of complexity.  In working with the rods, children have a context in which to develop their communication skills.  Explore and enjoy the power of cuisenaire rods with your students!

Alphabet Adventures

Alphabet Adventures ~ A Meaningful Journey

Today Lillah Martin (Early Literacy Helping Teacher) and I went on an ‘Alphabet Adventure’ with over 80 Surrey teachers. This is the first of a series of workshops focusing on emphasizing ‘play’ as an important part of classrooms.

Somewhere along the line, the word ‘play’ was replaced with ‘work’.  There seems to be pressure for teachers to teach students how to ‘read’ at an earlier age. The focus on letter names and sounds, as well as words, has changed.  It is far too common to see students sitting at desks completing worksheets rather than playfully discovering the joys of sound-symbol relationships.

Our students need to be curious, engaged and have a love of learning that will support literacy development for a lifetime.  Research supports that students know about, and participate in, the functions of literacy long before they learn about alphabet letters and sounds.

Early learning experiences must provide a balance of play–based learning and explicit instruction.  An effective program is structured in such a way to respect the learning processes for all students and to help them reach their full potential.

Our role as a teacher is to fill the students’ lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences that are both playful and purposeful.  It is time to put the ‘purposeful play’ back into our classrooms.  There are so many possible ways to fill our young learners’ literate lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences with letters and words.  Many of the ideas presented at the workshop are located on the ‘Alphabet Adventures’ page.

NWMC 2012

I want to ‘Thank’ all the wonderful teachers who attended my workshop at the Northwest Mathematics conference in Victoria, B.C. this weekend.  It was one of the last workshops offered for the day and these teachers were absolutely amazing!

The presentation focused on ‘The Big 3’ (subitizing, partitioning and patterning) which are essential in building a solid mathematical foundation in early primary. These concepts are interconnected and embedded in each other.

Our young learners should know what it looks like to behave like a mathematician – seeing sets without counting, breaking up sets and putting them back together again and patterning and predicting.  They are capable of doing the important work of a mathematician.

I have attached the power point and activities we explored, played and discussed at the session.  Please let me know if these activities help you to develop a solid numeracy foundation for your students in a differentiated way!