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Throughout this document I will explore the idea of enhancing students mathematical skills

through the use of literature. I will also discuss how the use of literature will enhance

childrens engagement when learning maths. The first part of the assignment will include a

critical review of the effects of mathematics learning through the use of childrens literature. I

will then create an Object by the numbers poster with a number of data facts. A summary

will be written for three of these data facts including how I will utilise each data fact into a

mathematical task.

Literature

Mathematics is a vital life skill which is taught in all schools and valued highly throughout the

curriculum. This makes it extremely important for teachers to use a range of methods which

engage students and benefit their mathematical learning experience. From experience, many

students can find maths extremely boring and confusing. Due to this students form a negative

attitude about the subject from a young age, and due to this their learning can be impacted

through to the remainder of their schooling years. Commonly held views of mathematics as

boring, useless, and intimidating result from an educational failure to connect mathematics to

the everyday (Bullock 1994) and a different approach to teaching mathematics is required. It

is said that high quality mathematics instruction depends on students' engagement with

meaningful learning tasks (Soh, 2005, p.1) and this means that it is imperative to ensure

students are engaged when teaching mathematics in order for students to achieve successful

results. Cross curricular links are an important part of the curriculum and due to that it is very

beneficial to use childrens literature when teaching students mathematics. Students love

having stories read to them and find this process extremely engaging, hence utilising this

when teaching mathematics serves a very valuable purpose. It can be an extremely valuable

and successful way in which to teach students and it will greatly assist their learning. When

childrens literature and numeracy are connected in an interactive and meaningful way,

students will understand the mathematical concepts readily and will sustain the knowledge

(Shartzer, 2008, p. 650). All students learn differently and employing childrens literature in

the mathematics classroom can spark the imagination of students in ways that traditional

exercises do not (Burns, 2005). The students who have a keen interest in literature are often

the same students who are uninterested in filling out worksheets with sums and struggle with

mathematics. For students who dont enjoy the traditional way that mathematics is taught,

incorporating literature in the teaching process could be highly valuable in increasing these

students enjoyment and achievement in the subject. When using literature in the teaching of

maths, students can be encouraged to think about maths in a different way. They can use

their imagination and think about numbers in a way that they havent before, and can even

be learning about mathematics without knowing it.

English is valued extremely highly within the Australian curriculum and a great focus is placed

on it within classrooms. With the whole language philosophy and literature based language

arts becoming more prevalent, it became evident than integrating math and literature would

be not only exciting, but also a logical union. (Braddon, Hall, Taylor, 1993) Not only will using

literature in order to teach mathematics be beneficial to the process of teaching maths, but it

will also assist students in understanding what is happening within literature. It will do this by

getting students to delve deeper into ideas put forward within the story, and understand

concepts within the book which they might not have before. Students will become familiar

with language related to maths within texts and will learn to identify this which will help them

have a greater understanding of what is happening within literature, and how this can be

related to mathematics. Understanding this language can translate into a better

understanding of math based word problems, and much of the language used will be similar.

Often students struggle to grasp the mathematical concept being put forward within word

problems. With the assistance of stories, illustrations and characters a student is provided

with valuable support which they will find engaging and will assist them in understanding

word problems and what math concept needs to be applied in order to solve the problem

correctly. Books can provide a powerful method for creating a meaningful and engaging

context to initiate

problem-solving activities (Livy, Muir, Marston, 2013) and "the text and visual images can

offer opportunities for problem solving, both individual and collaborative (Marston 2010)

Although many benefits can come from using childrens literature in the teaching of

mathematics, a teacher must be careful not to try and force too much mathematical thinking

into the literacy, otherwise they may take away from the experience of the story. A limitation

of using childrens literature in a mathematics lesson is the potential for teachers to

overemphasise the mathematics whilst unintentionally detracting from the literary essence of

the text (Shih & Giorgis, 2004). The fact that students enjoy stories so much plays a big part

in why using literature in order to teach math is so successful. If a teacher tries to make

literature all about math and loses focus on the actual story, the students will begin to stop

enjoying literature. This will obviously make teaching mathematics with literature a lot less

successful as it will take away the enjoyment and ruin the experience of the story for the

students.

When teaching students mathematics it is extremely important for a teacher to ensure that

the students are engaged and enjoying what theyre doing in order to assist them in reaching

their potential. Students learn best when they are interested in what they are learning, and as

a teacher you must try to ensure that students with all different learning styles are engaged.

Teaching mathematics through the use of literature can provide students with an exciting

cross curricular learning experience that is both engaging and effective. It can allow students

to use their imaginations and teach them valuable problem solving skills which will richly

enhance their mathematical skills. Students are able to use imagery and interesting topics

within literature in order to assist them in understanding mathematic language and terms,

and mathematical concepts. Although using literature can be a highly successful aid when

teaching mathematics, teachers must be careful that they dont spoil the experience of the

story. The fact that students enjoy books so much is why it is such an effective tool in

teaching math, and if the math is emphasised too much, the student may lose enjoyment of

the story, which would destroy the meaning of the whole process.

exploration

Book details: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

Suitable for Grade: Prep - 5

Brief description and rationale for the image you have selected for your poster:

For my poster image I have selected to use a tree. Obviously the main focus in the book is a

tree, and a lot of facts which involve numbers can be explored by students. These facts can

provide the basis for mathematic lessons.

Picture of front cover of book

Data Fact #1: Some trees can grow to around 100 metres (328 feet) in height!

Data Fact #2: Trees can live for thousands of years.

Data Fact #3: Trees grow from the top, not from the bottom as is commonly believed. A

branch's location on a tree will only move up the trunk a few inches in 1000 years.

Data Fact #4: Trees receive an estimated 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and

only 10% from the soil.

Data Fact #5: There are over 23,000 different kinds of trees in the world.

Data Fact #6: One large tree can lift up to 350 litres of water out of the ground and

discharge it into the air in a day.

Selected Data Facts for further exploration

Data Fact #1: Some trees can grow to around 100 metres (328 feet) in height!

Prompts to develop childrens mathematical thinking:

1. How many centimetres can some trees grow to?

2. How many of you would it take to get to 100 meters tall?

A childs anticipated responses to the prompts:

Prompt 1 - Anticipated response:

Considering that there are 100 centimetres in a metre, in order to find out how many centimetres some

trees can grow to you must times 100 by 100. Some trees can grow to 10 000cm.

Prompt 2 - Anticipated response:

Say Im about 1.5 metres tall. To find out how many of me it would take to reach the height of a 100

metre tree, I would need to divide 100 by 1.5. The answer is 75.

These prompts explore childrens understanding of size. It also explores how well the students

understand how to convert different units of measurement, in this case meters and

centimetres. It also explores the students understand and skills in multiplication and division.

AusVELS connection and code:

Year 4: Compare objects using familiar metric units of area and volume (ACMMG290)

Year 4:

Year 4: Develop efficient mental and written strategies and use appropriate digital technologies for multiplication and for division

where there is no remainder (ACMNA076)

Prompts to develop childrens mathematical thinking:

1. How many lifetimes could you live in the lifespan of one tree?

2. If a tree grows 80 metres tall and lives for 1000 years, on average how much would the

tree grow each year?

A childs anticipated responses to the prompts:

Prompt 1 - Anticipated response:

Say I live to about 90 and tree lives to 2000 years. I would have to divide my 90 years into the trees

2000 years. I would have to live just over 22 lifetimes to live the same amount of time as the tree!

Prompt 2 - Anticipated response:

If a tree grew to 80 metres tall in 1000 years, to find out how much it was growing each year you would

divide 80 by 100. The tree would grow about 0.08 metres per year. When converted to centimetres

thats only 8 centimetres a year.

These prompts explore the students understanding in division and how to use it appropriately.

They explore the students knowledge about time, height and converting units of

measurement as well.

AusVELS connection and code:

Year 4: Convert between units of time (ACMMG085)

Year 4: Develop efficient mental and written strategies and use appropriate digital technologies for multiplication and for division

where there is no remainder (ACMNA076)

Data Fact #3: One large tree can lift up to 350 litres of water out of the ground and

discharge it into the air in a day.

Prompts to develop childrens mathematical thinking:

1. How many 2 litre bottles of milk would you have to pour onto the ground to get 350 litres of

liquid?

2. How many litres of water per hour is a tree lifting up?

Prompt 1 - Anticipated response:

To find out how many two litre bottles of milk to pour out, you can divide 350 by two which would equal

175 bottles.

Prompt 2 - Anticipated response:

Considering that there are 24 hours in a day, in order to find out how many litres of water the tree

would take out of the ground per hour you would divide 350 by 24. The answer is 14.58, or about 14

and a half litres an hour.

These prompts allow students to explore the concept of units of measurement, the case here

being litres. Students are also given the opportunity to identify the correct way in which to use

division, and where it should be used to find out answers.

Year 4: Develop efficient mental and written strategies and use appropriate digital technologies for multiplication and for division

where there is no remainder (ACMNA076)

Year 4: Recognise that the place

value system can be extended to tenths and hundredths. Make connections between fractions and decimal notation (ACMNA079)

References

Suh. J (2005), Third graders' mathematics achievement and representation preference

using virtual and physical manipulatives for adding fractions and balancing equations,

retrieved 18/04/2014, < http://mason.gmu.edu/~jsuh4/dissertation%20final.pdf>

Burns, M (2005), 3 lessons by Marilyn Burns: Using storybooks to teach math, Scholastic

Instructor. April, 27-30.

Braddon. K, Hall. N, Taylor. D, 1993, Maths through Childrens Literature, retrieved

19/04/2014, < http://books.google.com.au/books?

hl=en&lr=&id=QwSJcOH1wqAC&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&dq=children+literature+in+mathematics

+scholarly&ots=Eu7pg2SOzx&sig=fp2BJuCXLHu38oRV6j8EajPSCJM#v=onepage&q=children

%20literature%20in%20mathematics%20scholarly&f=false>

Marston. JL, Muir. T, Livy. S 2013, Can we really count on Frank?, Teaching children

mathematics, vol. 19, no. 7, pp.441

Marston, Jennifer L. 2010. "Developing a Framework for the Selection of Picture Books to

Promote Early Mathematical Development." In Shaping the Future of Mathematics Education:

Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of

Australasia (MERGA), edited by Len Sparrow, Barry Kissane, and Chris Hurst, pp. 383-90.

Fremantle, WA: MERGA.

Shih, J., & Giorgis, C. (2004). Building the mathematics and literature connections through

childrens responses. Teaching Children Mathematics, 10(6), 328-333.

Shatzer, J. (2008). Picture book power: Connecting childrens literature and mathematics.

The Reading Teacher, 61(8), 649-653.

Bullock, J. 1994, Literacy in the language of mathematics, The American Mathematical Monthly 101

(8): 745-743.

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