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Children's literature in the mathematics classroom: a flexible approach to practice
conference contributionposted on 2018-05-07, 00:00 authored by Leicha Bragg, Catherine Attard, Tracey Muir, Sharyn Livy
Engaging children in mathematics through the use of children’s literature has become increasingly popular in primary classrooms (Muir, Livy, Bragg, Clark, Wells, & Attard, 2017). Through considered selection of appropriate children’s literature, teachers can utilise stories to help children learn mathematical concepts and skills within a context that is meaningful to them. Children’s literature offers opportunities for rich mathematical discussions, problem solving, reasoning, and assists with improving children’s attitudes towards mathematics (Schiro, 1997). Picture books in particular can provide a non-threatening environment through which a knowledgeable teacher can capitalise on the mathematics inherent within the text and illustrations, and facilitate learning. Anecdotal evidence and observations, however, indicate that while teachers may use children’s literature to engage and stimulate students in mathematical experiences, much of the potential for capitalising on important mathematical concepts is not realised. Furthermore, not all children’s literature is appropriate for enhancing a mathematics lesson or providing a stimulus for mathematical discourse (Muir, et al., 2017). To address these concerns, the authors of this paper conceptualised a teaching resource book to assist teachers to engage children with mathematics through rich mathematical and literacy experiences. Chapters in the book followed a similar structure, with features including identification of key mathematical ‘big ideas’, anticipation of misconceptions and difficulties, and planning frameworks showing how lessons could be enacted and extended. When selecting children’s literature for inclusion in the book, we were guided by Marston’s (2010) framework which was developed for comparing the efficacy of different types of ‘mathematical’ picture books, which included books where the mathematics was unintentional, explicit or embedded (Marston, 2010). To evaluate the appropriateness of the books for use in early childhood and primary classrooms, the authors trialled the lessons with participating classes. This paper reports on the results of two lessons trialed with early childhood classes, to answer the research question: How does the use of children’s literature as a stimulus engage young children in the learning of mathematics?