Volume II: Literacy in the Math Class
READMATH: Connecting Literacy and Math
Cheree Charmello
Pittsburgh Gifted Education Center
Can you possibly read math? What about trying to write math? These questions might lead to a general answer in the affirmative; however, I am referring to an intertwining of math and literacy that directly support one another. Lewis Carroll’s life work certainly pointed to the possibility. The link between communications and math inherent in Carroll’s work is the foundation for which this unit, READMATH: Connecting Literacy and Math, has been laid.
The unit is a creative writing minicourse that spans two curricular areas by combining literacy and mathematics instruction, much in the same fashion as Lewis Carroll connected the two content areas within his writing. It has been designed for the literaturelover and mathmiserable (or the mathlover and literaturemiserable)! We will take a look at how math and writing connect within the real world in a fun, nonthreatening way.
This standalone course was designed for thirdthoughfifth grade students in the Humanities Department of the Pittsburgh Public Schools gifted education support program. These students have extremely high cognitive abilities and need strengthbased enrichment activities in addition to what they receive in the mainstream curriculum. Each student attends the center one day per week. The students have the rare, collegelike opportunity to choose the courses they will take each semester. Each course meets for one hour each week over a 16week semester.
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Finding the math in “Holes”
Amber Dean
Arlington Accelerated Learning Academy
This unit aims to integrate mathematics into the sixth grade Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) core curriculum. The unit will provide 3 mini lessons that any teacher can explore with students who are reading or who have read Holes. During the 6th grade year, PPS students read and analyze Holes, by Louis Sachar. These lessons could also be used for seventh or eighth grade students who have already read the novel. In the sixth grade communications’ classroom students explore the key concepts of irony, how the setting affects the character, how the characters can change over the course of the plot and how characters grow and mature as they interpret life situations. The mini lessons in this unit will make a connection to mathematics and communications using content from the novel Holes.
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Connecting Elegance and Eloquence to Make Mathematics Memorable
Jonathan Fantazier
Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts
I firmly believe that using literary adaptations can improve mathematics instruction for students at all ability levels of both math skills and language skills. The interconnectivity of these two fields of study becomes more obvious through research and objective, common sense consideration of just how much we use communication to learn about math. Because our district has a highly prescribed set of curricula for mathematics, making these valid adaptations may require significant justification and a fair amount of creativity on the part of a teacher.
Throughout this paper I argue for the purposeful use of language skills in mathematics pedagogy, offer overarching objectives for this engaging and rigorous approach, and suggest a comprehensive set of strategies to work from when introducing adaptations to our core curricula. Some aspects may be best suited to high school students, but it is my intention that these methods be applicable in middle and elementary curricula as well. I hope that my paper provides a primer for fellow teachers who are interested in using literary adaptation to math; that it will help them make the case for it and begin to creatively develop tasks and activities for their students.
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Math and Literature:
Blue Balliett’s Art Mystery Books
Jane H. Fraser
Pittsburgh Classical Academy
The novels of Blue Balliett form the framework of this unit, which blends mathematics with literature by pairing smart, captivating stories with equally interesting activities. This unit has been written for the seventh grade math class, although it could be adapted for grades five through eight.
Using the seventh grade curriculum roadmap and the Pennsylvania state mathematics standards as a guide, I have created a unit that blends math and literature, while at the same time fitting easily into the seventh grade math curriculum.
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Phantom Tollbooth Prospectus
Kristen LoAlbo
Pittsburgh Gifted Center
‘Phantom Tollbooth’ is a literacy based math unit that spans two disciplines: communications and math. The course is based on Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. The novel seamlessly connects literacy and math. The book is rich with vocabulary, interesting characters and imaginative adventures in the land of robust words and numbers. The unit will focus on the second half of the novel when the main character, Milo, finds himself in Digitopolis, the land of numbers.
The novel touches on a plethora of math concepts including: averages, negative numbers, geometry, infinity, measurement, estimation and data collection. Students will use a wide range of technology throughout the unit. Online web sources will be utilized as well as computer software programs such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word.
This unit was designed for 4th grade students in the Math department in The Pittsburgh Public Schools gifted education program. The students come to the center once a week. Elementary students choose the two courses they wish to take. This unit would be a part of the first semester course. Each course lasts for two hours a week over a sixteenweek semester.
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Population and Exponential Growth
Barbara Misechok
Student Achievement Center
Mathematics is a form of communication. Math is more than just formulas, numbers, operations and symbols. Math is one of the ways of making sense of the world. It is a part of everyday living not a topic in isolation. Yet, many educators try to separate mathematics from communication making math a dry topic where students learn formulas and how to plug numbers into the formulas to solve problems. Actually math and literature enrich each other. The focus of this prospectus will be to show the benefits of the marriage between math and literature.
This unit will use the novel, Among the Hidden, to introduce mathematical operations. This novel takes place in the future under a totalitarian government. Each family is permitted only two children to limit the population of the country. Some people have a third child that they hide from the population police. The third child is called a shadow child. Several mathematical concepts are presented in this novel. I plan to pull these concepts out for mathematical exploration and instruction. One key concept is the idea of exponential growth. The novel is taught in our district at the middle school level. This lesson will be appropriate for middle school as it uses a middle school novel and the connected math book. I plan to use it with my high school students with special needs who receive instruction in the resource room. The District’s special education department has asked the resource room teacher to use the connected math series for students with special needs.
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C3: Communication, Creativity, & Connections in the Middle School Math Class
Sarah J. Ricketts
Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center
Primary grade students are still learning to read, so their mathematical concepts are built through games and fun activities that are, for the most part, teacher led. They are not expected to interpret complex text in order to build on their growing knowledge. Once they reach middle school, however, they are expected to “read to learn”, that is, they should be able to use their established reading skills to independently acquire new information in many different academic subjects. Unfortunately, many Pittsburgh Public School students have not developed the reading or communication skills necessary for successful acquisition of new knowledge.
This curriculum supplement will provide 6th through 8th grade students with opportunities to broaden their reading fluency and comprehension in the math classroom. It will also help teachers to establish realworld context and applications for the mathematical concepts as they are being taught. C3: Communication, Creativity, & Connections in the Middle School Math Class is not intended to be a separate unit or alternative to the current curriculum being used by Pittsburgh Public Schools middle school math teachers. By design, it is simply a literacy and creativity component that aligns with each established PPS unit.
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Literature and mathematics
Rosemary G. Schmitt
Pittsburgh South Brook
Students have a hard time going form the abstract to the concrete in algebra. Thinking in terms of variables is always an issue for them. They struggle with writing equations. Practicing these concepts in a fun way will help them to make the transition to algebra a little bit easier.
Through the use of children’s literature, prealgebra students will write about the patterns they see within the story. They will continue to make sense of these patterns through tables and eventually write and graph their equations. They will look at linear relationships as well as exponential relationships. They will also have an opportunity to change the ending of some stories to create a different pattern and compare the two.
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