RM Winter 2016 FLIP

classified as realistic fiction because it is a story that could have actually occurred in a believable setting. However, other genres were less clear. For example The Greedy Triangle (Burns, 1994) has illustrations and tells the story of a triangle who visits a local shapeshifter to add angles to his shape until he is completely transformed. This seems like it would fit in fantasy, yet the purpose of the text is to teach mathematical concepts. I later learned that many of the texts I used in this study fall into the category of dual-purpose texts (Donovan & Smolkin, 2001) meaning they have the purpose of telling a fictional story and to convey information. Table 1 highlights some of the texts I used in this study. Table 1. Math Texts Book Title and Author Genre CCSS Pigs will be pigs: Fun with math and money Fantasy Operations and Algebraic Thinking Jim and the beanstalk (Raymond Briggs) Fantasy Measurement & Data A chair for my mother (Vera Williams) Realistic Fiction Operations and Algebraic Thinking “Smart” (Shel Silverstein) Realistic Fiction Operations and Algebraic Thinking Money (Eyewitness Books) (Joe Crib) Informational Operations and Algebraic Thinking If you made a million (David Schwartz) Fantasy Number & Operations in Base Ten Howmuch is million? (David Schwartz) Fantasy Number & Operations in Base Ten The greedy triangle (Marilyn Burns) Fantasy Geometry Method Keeping in mind my question of how children’s literature could impact students’ understandings and feelings towards math, I collected several different types of classroom data including a math survey, student reflections, teacher reflections, and thumbs-up/down slips. The math survey, which I highlighted earlier, helped me understand students’ interests and how they really felt about math. I also collected student reflections. At the beginning of the year, the first grade students had trouble writing their thoughts about the books I shared. It was difficult at times to understand whether or not the books helped them understand the concepts. Therefore, I decided to give each student a slip of paper after we read a book during math class. They would circle a thumb pointing up (if the book helped them understand a concept), a thumb pointing down (if the book did not help them), or a thumb pointing sideways (if the book neither helped or hurt their understanding of a concept). Several conversations were necessary to explain to the students that I was not looking to see if they liked the book. I really wanted to know if the book helped them understand the math concept better. My goal was to use these slips to help me assess the effectiveness of using informational texts during math time. As the year progressed, I moved away from the thumb slips and instead the students chose between three prompts each time I read a picture book during math, which helped them respond in

students ranged considerably. These students had the highest scores on their end of year assessments from kindergarten and thus were selected to work in my “advanced”math class; essentially I was teaching second grade concepts to first graders. At the beginning of the year, I administered a baseline survey to all students asking twenty true/false questions such as: I am sure that I can learn math; Doing well in math is important to me ; and I can get good grades in math . This survey provided insightful information about how students view themselves as mathematicians and provided clues as to how I could better meet their needs. Results of the survey revealed that two students thought that boys were better at math than girls, 12 students said they could get good grades in math, and 13 students said they were sure that they could learn math. All 14 students said that doing well in math was important to them and that doing well in math was important to their parents. This helps paint a picture of my first grade math students, some of whom you will learn more about later. Book Selection According to the Common Core State Standards, instructional math time should focus on four areas: (1) operations and algebraic thinking; (2) numbers and operations in base 10; (3) measurement and data; and (4) geometry (CCSS, 2010). By carefully selecting children’s literature that illuminated the mathematical concepts I was teaching, I hoped students would have the opportunity to not only further their understanding, but become more interested in the math concepts. My plan was to read math books aloud as part of my lesson, similar to what I did during shared reading in our literacy block. I started reading journal articles about incorporating literature and math. I read about the many ways educators use pictures books to teach math (Bryan & Mason, 2012). Some studies focused on the specific impact of a particular math picture book (see Whitin, 2008; Shatzer, 2008). I also learned that literature can motivate students to learn, provide a meaningful context for math (Whiten &Wilde, 1992), and that children enjoyed math more when exposed to mathematical related stories and discussions (Hong, 1996). As I chose books, I relied on recommended book lists from Whiten andWilde’s (1992) Read Any Good Math Lately? According to Atkinson, Matusevich and Huber (2009), there is limited information about ways to choose trade books for mathematics instruction. However, Hunsader (2004) and Hellwig, Monroe and Jacobs (2000) suggest examining the content, the visual appeal, and if the story compliments the mathematics. Using a list of children’s literature, I began thinking about how to incorporate them into my teaching and how I was going to examine their impact. As I looked at the various texts, I began thinking more about genre. Researchers recommend providing children with multiple and varied trade books (Powell & Nurnberger-Haag, 2015). I found it easy to determine the genre of some math picture books such as Money (Crib, 1990). It is an informational text because the primary purpose of the text is to convey information with the help of text features such as headings and particular vocabulary. The same is true for A Chair for my Mother (Williams, 1982). It is

Reading Matters Research Matters

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