DEC Scan Journal : May 2013
Volume 32, May 2013 8 Contents Editorial Currents Teaching & learning Research Curriculum support Share this Resource reviews Developing a context for learning Most primary school teachers feel confident in the literacy classroom, but this is often not the case when it comes to teaching mathematics. Lessons in mathematics built around picture books offer a familiar learning environment for teachers and students. Effective pedagogy from the literacy classroom can be transferred directly to the mathematics classroom. Teachers and students are comfortable with the notion of studying a whole text in the literacy classroom and then breaking it down into manageable chunks. Picture books offer the opportunity to present mathematical concepts in the same way. Reading with a mathematical eye, teachers can map out picture books and plan learning experiences that address the central themes of working mathematically. With a framework in place, teachers can plan one or two lessons to gain a sense of where their students are in terms of engagement, and meeting their learning needs, before planning an entire unit of work or teaching and learning sequence. Lessons built around concepts and delivered through a whole class integrated approach to develop knowledge, skills and understanding (rather than built around a single activity, or addressing a single syllabus outcome) can bring about significant change in learning and teaching when embedded in the narrative of a picture book. Learning experiences that involve students in role play or drawing and making when working with picture books in a literary context, transfer easily to a picture book that presents mathematical ideas. Many students face language issues in the mathematics classroom that impact significantly on their understanding of mathematical ideas, capacity to investigate problems and success in recording their learning. Picture books offer the opportunity to incorporate active learning experiences in the mathematics classroom. As we already know, the discussion that flows naturally from exploring picture books supports language development. Taking on the role of certain characters to act out problems presented in a text, writing or drawing also provide a direct connection to the narrative and an opportunity to use language linked to mathematical ideas. Experiences like these facilitate the acquisition of mathematical terms and the everyday language needed to explain mathematical ideas. Using picture books Teachers can familiarise themselves with picture books to plan learning experiences to: • introduce concepts • consolidate concepts • guide activities • provide a springboard for problem solving • contain the problems themselves • provide a strong link between literacy and numeracy. Stage 3 student Tshinta’s orienteering course design inspired by My place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins My place: position and data Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins’ My place provided the springboard for learning experiences that introduced: informal and formal mapping, collection and representation of data, and writing and visual arts with a mathematical flavour to my Stage 2 class in 2011. This book provided a strong link between literacy and numeracy as seen in the final maps below. Emulating the writing style of Nadia Wheatley and the informal maps with chatty labels of Donna Rawlins, Year 4 students told the story of their first decade and mapped out their place – writing and visual arts sat naturally with mathematics. All students were actively engaged in their learning and deepened their understanding of numeracy concepts through their connection to a rich narrative in a real world setting. Their work in HSIE at the time also focused on changes to their local area over time. The following Stage 2 student work samples show learning experiences from the My place unit. Many students face language issues ... that impact significantly on their understanding of mathematical ideas ...