Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Using Children's Literature to Teach Measurement

Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Using Children's Literature to Teach Measurement

Article excerpt

Mathematics is often seen by elementary school teachers as a difficult subject to teach and by many children as a hard subject to learn. Perhaps the main reason for this perception is the abstractness of mathematical concepts. The purpose of this paper is to examine the use of children's literature in teaching mathematics and its impact on the teaching and learning of mathematical concepts in early childhood education.

Introduction

Several studies have examined the use of children's literature in teaching math for different purposes. Evidence clearly shows that using children's literature to teach math is a very effective method of instruction.

Rainy Cotti and Michael Schiro (2004) conducted a study where they found that teachers' purposes in the ways they used children's literature to teach mathematical concepts were directly linked to their own curriculum ideologies. They cited four ideologies that influenced teachers in their study in the way they used children's literature in their math classrooms, which included the Scholar Academic, Social Efficiency, Child Study, and Social Reconstruction positions. Teachers who believe that children should learn mathematics because it is one of the academic disciplines and who believe that teachers should have a profound understanding of mathematics and the ability to teach that understanding to children, are Scholar Academics. They often use direct instruction or guided inquiry as their teaching method and may use children's books as a context to illustrate a mathematical concept. Teachers who believe that children should learn mathematics in order to be able to use math skills in the home and at work in order to be productive members of society are taking the Social Efficiency position. They may use children's books in their math classrooms as a springboard for teaching math skills, rather than an understanding of the concepts. Teachers who believe that children should learn mathematics through developmentally appropriate practices, constructing their own mathematical concept meanings in a child-centered classroom are among the Child Study advocates. They often use children's books to provide a rich context to motivate children and provide concrete manipulatives for the children to handle in order to construct their own meaning of mathematical concepts. They also use children's books to show children how math in school relates to their daily lives. Teachers who believe that children should learn mathematics in order to understand social injustices and improve society are exhibiting characteristics of the Social Reconstruction position. They may use children's books in their math classrooms that show members of an at-risk population being successful in math activities, or to emphasize environmental issues, poverty, and community problems to help children learn to solve these types of problems and to illustrate how they can use math to improve society. Teachers should have a clear understanding of their own ideological orientation in order to prepare purposeful instruction and be able to communicate more effectively with colleagues whose ideological orientation may be different. The authors of this study also expressed the fact that a teacher's ideological orientation may change as they grow as a teacher and therefore, knowing one's own ideological position and the way it influences their math instruction is important (Cotti & Schiro, 2004).

Leigh Ann Beard (2003) conducted a study in which she examined the effects of an integrated math and children's literature instruction on mathematical achievement and mathematical anxiety compared with students who received mathematics instruction without the contexts provided through children's literature. The author cited several studies that promoted the use of children's literature in mathematics instruction as helping children learn to value mathematics, showing real world contexts in math, and developing communication skills in the language of mathematics. …

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