Math and Literature
HOW IT WORKS
Working within the mathematics curriculum, this
program utilizes stories that coincide with the
topic being taught. For example, when teaching
students about polygons and their traits, the
book The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns is a
good story to read. It tells of a triangle, unhappy
with its shape, that keeps adding angles and
lines until it doesn’t know who/what it is. The
math vocabulary is included in the story as well.
For literacy, a discussion of the story and its
moral can be a definition of this genre. For a
relevant writing exercise, the children write a
story with the same moral. And the story touches
on the concept of self-image—an important one
for young individuals. This program can be done by the teacher
working in the confines of the classroom
curriculum. An interdisciplinary program makes
time for all subjects during the day. It gives the
teacher and the students more flexibility in the
day’s schedule because all areas are planned in
an economical way. Another way to work the
program is to have the pairing of staff—one as
the literacy teacher and the other as the math
teacher. During the day these teachers switch
classes to work the subject area of their
expertise. In this way, the students receive
instruction in subjects with master teachers of that subject.
The students participate actively and control the
learning process with hands-on lessons. The
explorations lend themselves to cooperative
learning groups, with students having a final
product such as a completed activity sheet, an
art piece, or a response to the lesson that
comes from the groups’ participation. During
literacy time, the story can be used to work on
some form of creative writing, a grammar
lesson, or a reading skill. This too can be in
reading groups or during full class participation.
Doris Abraskin has taught in District 18 for the
last 11 years, starting with a Title I program and
doing staff development. She went on to become the Staff Developer for the district
three years ago and is now Math Staff
Developer for third and fourth grade at P.S. 219. She
has been at the Discrete Math Institute at
Rutgers University since 1995 and does staff
development workshops. She also trains
teachers in Southern New Jersey and has developed
workshops in discrete math.
WHAT YOU NEED
Literature that coincides with the math
curriculum is an important part of this program.
Calculators are used with the lessons as well as math
manipulatives. All the supplies are necessary to
make the math more interesting and fun for the
students. For example, use marshmallows and
straws to form plane and solid geometry figures.
This lesson goes with the story The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns (Scholastic, Inc.).
A computer for the word processing is also required.
This program is a great way to integrate subject
areas. It allows the classroom teacher to work
with interdisciplinary lessons so that the
children learn that all areas can be worked
together. Allowing the children to learn by
exploration gives them confidence in their math
skills and the experience to communicate. This
program covers all math and literacy standards
for New York City and New York State. A
bibliography is available on request.