RM Winter 2016 FLIP

I also noted in my field notes about the change in saw in Ellie over the year. I see good progress with Ellie’s understanding of math. She is taking the concepts and applying themmore consistently in her seatwork and even with the problems of the day. She seems more confident and willing to raise her hand to solve a problem at the board. Journal entries like that one helped me continue to use the children’s literature during math for the rest of the school year. The Bigger Picture The various sources of data revealed that both successful and struggling students were actively transferring strategies (such as predicting and asking questions) they were being taught during reading and language arts to mathematics and that the use of children’s literature was fostering this transfer by giving them more opportunities to use the strategies with different types of texts. For example, after learning about making connections during our literacy block, several students made connections during math time from the book I was reading to other mathematical books we had read previously. Such findings connect with Hyde’s (2006) recommendation that teachers use comprehension strategies to connect literature to mathematical concepts. Incorporating children’s literature into daily mathematical lessons can improve understanding and help children explain their reasoning (Clarke, 2002). The student’s journal entries highlighted that some students expressed much deeper thinking about concepts, beyond what I had seen in the past with traditional tests and worksheets. The journals also showed that when a student was struggling to understand a concept, they struggled to write about it. In terms of the students’ feelings towards math, utilizing children’s literature made math time more enjoyable for some students, it did not impact others, and some students didn’t like it despite my efforts to incorporate a variety of math texts. Final Thoughts Investigating a new practice, incorporating children’s literature into math time, provided an opportunity for deep reflection. Rereading my field notes allowed me to see how over time, the use of a variety of math texts engaged my first graders. This endeavor also forced me to investigate the types of mathematics literature I owned as well as what our school library offered. As a result of what I discovered, I worked with our librarian to order more math books so all students and teachers would have greater access to these materials. Each year more books written that merge the content of math and literacy. Some of my new favorites include: From Here to Infinity by Menotti & Labat; The Wing Wing Brothers Math Spectacular! by Ethan Long; Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy; and Wumbers by Rosenthal & Lichtenheld. Hartman (2002) suggests that using various genres in the classroom helps teachers energize their own teaching. I certainly found this to be true. I became more purposeful about selecting texts to read aloud to students, not only during math time but also throughout the day. I was also able to maximize instructional

However, my field notes revealed that I had mixed feelings during this process. At times, I feel worried. It takes time to do this (incorporate math and picture books) and today I wonder if it is worth it. Should I spend these extra fewminutes working with a child one on one? I struggle with how to use the short amount of time I have with these students. Not all of my students were like Kate and I often felt conflicted about this new way of teaching. Ben, uncomfortable reader and mathematician Ben said he could not get good grades in math and gave thumbs sideways or thumbs down to the picture books, which did not seem to engage him. However, he used his math journal to practice other literacy skills. After we read Jim and the Beanstalk (Briggs,1970) he wrote: I wonder if the beanstalk will grow back? I wonder what he will grow next. Ben used the questioning skills we practiced in reading and applied them during math time. Although Ben was not particularly interested in the incorporation of children’s literature during math, he enjoyed asking questions and writing about possible solutions to his questions. Research suggests that teachers can use math texts to support students like Ben by encouraging them to find answers to questions that matter to them (Williams, 2009). This also helps students make connections to the real world, making math more meaningful and relevant. In my research journal I wrote: Working with Ben reminds me that although I have a goal for using these texts, my attempts might not reach all learners in the same way. Reflecting on my journal entries and other data sources helped me understand that my efforts to incorporate a variety of math texts into math time helped Ben and perhaps other students, in other ways I could not have imagined but were still equally important. Ellie, ready writer and thoughtful mathematician Ellie, at the beginning of the year, said that she did not think she could do math. Ellie gave several thumbs sideways on her slips and my observations during math class indicated that she seemed to lack mathematical confidence. After we read HowMuch is Million? (Schwartz, 1985), she wrote in her journal: I notice they used a lot of big numbers. Like a million. I think that is a lot. Ellie uses her journal to clarify her thinking. She thought a million was a big number, but may not have been certain enough to verbalize it during our class discussion after reading the text. Without the math journal, I may have missed this “big moment” for Ellie. It made me wonder if there were other content concepts, from the math texts we were reading, that she was trying to process through her journal writing. Once I started reading the picture books during math, I noticed that students were more interested in looking at these books during self-selected reading and after they finished their work. Although the math books were all grouped together in the same browsing box, students such as Ellie showed little interest in them earlier in the year. This observation supports other research that found students are more likely to select texts for independent reading if their teacher has read it aloud to them (Dreher & Dromsky, 2000).

Reading Matters Research Matters

| 14 | Reading Matters | Volume 16 • Winter 2016 | scira.org


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