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Using children’s literature to support mathematics instruction has been connected to positive academic outcomes and learning dispositions; however, less is known about the use of audiovisual based narrative mediums to support student mathematical learning experiences. The current exploratory, qualitative study involved teaching three lessons based on challenging, problem solving tasks to two classes of Australian Year (Grade) 5 students (10 and 11 year olds). These tasks were developed from various narratives, each portrayed through a different medium (movie clip, short film, picture story book). Post lesson interviews were undertaken with 24 students inviting them to compare and contrast this lesson sequence with their usual mathematics instruction. Drawing on a self-determination theory lens, our analysis revealed that these lessons were experienced by students as both highly enjoyable and mathematically challenging. More specifically, it was found that presenting mathematics tasks based on rich and familiar contexts and providing meaningful choices about how to approach their mathematical work supported student autonomy. In addition, there was evidence that the narrative presentation supported student understanding of the mathematics through making the tasks clearer and more accessible, whilst the audiovisual mediums (movie clip, short film) in particular provided a dynamic representation of key mathematical ideas (e.g., transformation and scale). Students indicated an eclectic range of preferences in terms of their preferred narrative mediums for exploring mathematical ideas. Our findings support the conclusion that educators and researchers focused on the benefits of teaching mathematics through picture story books consider extending their definition of narrative to encompass other mediums, such as movie clips and short films.
These two related short articles contain classroom activities for primary school teachers. Fairy tales provide wonderful contexts for exploring a variety of important mathematical ideas. Read or retell one of these fairy tales to students and undertake the associated investigation. Afterwards, invite students to reflect on their own favourite fairy tale and then have a go at devising their own narrative-driven, mathematical inquiry.
A great deal of research has looked at the use of photographs, illustrations, and diagrams to support student understanding of mathematical concepts. In this paper, the authors explore some of the advantages that dynamic representations have over their static counterparts as they put movies under a mathematical lens.
The following series of challenging tasks are built around three wonderful picture story books by author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers. We suggest reading each book and tackling these tasks.
The four pillars of student engagement, teacher engagement, breadth of mathematics and depth of mathematics are used to explain the benefits of a narrative-first approach for supporting the integration of mathematics and children's literature.
This paper presents a series of increasingly challenging mathematical tasks based around the much-loved children's book Where is the Green Sheep?
This article outlines teaching ideas appropriate for primary mathematics. It is mainly aimed at primary school teachers and teacher-researchers. The Room on the Broom text is used as an example to illustrate how one might structure a lesson using the Narrative-First Approach.
This article takes readers through a challenging maths task built around the children's book, Where the Wild Things Are. Using the Narrative First Approach, the author has developed a task centred around Max's journey to the land of the wild things which explores concepts of relative time and proportional reasoning. The article provides student work samples based on the delivery of the lesson in an upper primary classroom in Australia, and ideas about how the activity could be used for younger students.
Setting students problem-solving tasks that are simultaneously engaging and mathematically important is central to primary mathematics instruction. Often an attempt to develop engaging tasks involves first determining the meaningful mathematics to be learnt, and then creating a ‘mini-narrative’ as a vehicle for exploring these concepts. However, in our experience, the more familiar, enjoyable and deeply developed the narrative, the more engaging the task is for students. Consequently, we demonstrate how there might be value in inverting the process- that is, beginning with rich narratives, and mapping on the mathematics- through creating mathematical tasks embedded in examples of well-known children’s literature. This is termed the Narrative-First Approach. We discuss one specific text – Fish Out of Water – and an associated mathematical investigation in some depth, including commenting on student work samples and student post-lesson reflections.
This article outlines teaching ideas appropriate for primary mathematics. It is mainly aimed at primary school teachers and teacher-researchers. Read, watch, or just discuss J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with your class, and then get students to engage with these associated mathematical problems. The problems cover a diverse range of key mathematical concepts. (Note: The title for U.S. readers is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.)
This article outlines teaching ideas appropriate for primary mathematics. It is mainly aimed at primary school teachers and teacher-researchers. Read the classic story by Pat Hutchins, The Doorbell Rang and use this story as an opportunity to introduce this corresponding challenging task. The task, which has been used with Year 1 and 2 students, introduces the sharing model of division, and provides a chance to explore the connections between addition, multiplication and division.
Math by the Month features collections of short activities focused on a monthly theme. These articles aim for an inquiry or problem-solving orientation that includes four activities each for grade bands K–2, 3–4, and 5–6. In this issue, teachers read the classic Dr. Seuss book The Sneetches and other stories with their class and get students to engage with these associated mathematical problems. The problems, many of which are open-ended or contain multiple solutions or solution pathways, cover a range of mathematical concepts.
The use of enabling and extending prompts allows tasks to be both accessible and challenging within a classroom. This article provides an example of how to use enabling and extending prompts effectively when employing a challenging tasks in Year 2.
The notion of equivalence is a very important concept for students and should be developed from a young age. This article demonstrates how students can deepen their relational understanding of the equals sign by exploring inequalities within a dice game based on familiar children’s literature.