# Monthly Archives: October 2013

# W6 Reflection

Week 6

Again, week after week, I find myself barely keeping afloat with both my personal and professional life. The joys of being a teacher! This week there are parent teacher conferences and the prep it requires before conferences and the time it requires to hold these meetings are leaving me feeling overwhelmed. From browsing other’s blogs and collaborating with peers I have found that I am not the only one in rough waters. We can do this together! And I am making it by with the words of encouragement from my peers.

Resources I shared:

- I shared a Wordle image I created using my observation notes and Wordle.com I talked briefly about Wordle on Twitter and shared how I planned to use this in my action research paper.
- I also shared Wordle with my colleagues, because it is a great visual tool that can tell a powerful message. My colleagues and students loved Wordle.com
- I tweeted about how handy the optional text has been for me. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation by Sharon B. Merriam. It has been my go to guide especially when technology can be so frustrating in a rural community.
- I got ideas from Lenore about how I could use Wordle for a theme.
- I also sent emails back and forth with Lee about how I could use Wordle. She was quick to respond with ideas that were helpful and doable.
- I worked on peer review proposal and suggested ideas to others on how to get this done.
- My peer review needed to be revised I looked at others.
- My professor Lee suggested that I look for others with the same or similar action research topic. Taking her advice I browsed thru other’s blogs looking for possible collaborators. I found those who have helped me throughout this process has been most helpful and continued to do so. I felt like we were learning together and some slightly quicker than others.

What will I do differently next week?

- I will try not to panic and collaborate more with others.
- Continue to email both professors as I have learned Dr. Jones is the one who will be assigning grades. I had previously only been emailing Lee and I think we had miscommunication. I was only the assumption that I was caught up and on the right track. I am still not sure, so I will continue to seek clarification.

What resources helped me?

- Dr. Jones shared helpful resources and links to help as guides to finishing this assignment. She also sent me via email a lit review example.
- Both professors communicated on Twitter with me trying to redirect me so that I would be on track. I appreciated all the help. It helped and I am hoping I am on the right track.
- Tweetdeck is finally installed on my computer thanks to techops. It was a long awaiting process and I am finally getting familiar with it. It is helping me collaborate with others. I wish both Twubs and Tweetdeck were better explained at the beginning of the class, because it would have greatly helped me get through this course.
- Leslie Burdick had great ideas on how to use Wordle to show themes. I definitely took her advice.

I am looking forward to a week where I am feeling on track and have greater confidence in myself to complete this action research project. I am also going to be finishing up on my data collection and fine-tuning my Literature Review. I have a full-schedule ahead of me but with the encouragement of many, I believe I can do this!

# Student Response to Math Lesson Taught WIth Literacy Book

# Week 5

Week 5

This week I spent time reflecting on last week’s data to decide what my next step would be in the data collection process. After tweeting on Tuesday, I decided my next step would be to interview teachers and take observations during a lesson that used the technique I am actively researching.

To take the observations I had to plan a lesson that used literacy books to teach the mathematics concept. During the lesson, I would stop to take observation notes and I also had an aid assist with jotting down notes. Once, I did this I created a Wordle. I found I love Wordle! I got this idea from one of the twitter sessions and from a fellow classmate’s blog.

My next step in collecting data was to look outside of just the students’ reaction. I wanted to know if teachers had used this method of teaching math concepts and how well it went. At first, I thought the interviews would not turn out fruitful because many of my students said the use of literacy books to teach math concepts was new to them. However, I decided to interview the teachers anyway to see what came up. What I found was that all the teachers had claimed to use literacy books to teach math concepts. One thing that was almost universal with how they were used is that the book was read prior to the math lesson. During the interviews, I sought clarification for why the students did not recognize that teaching math concepts through literacy books was not something new to them. I was able to generalize from the information provided in the interviews that many of the teachers read the book separate from math time and treated the text being read just like their regular read aloud time. Therefore, the teachers just told the students they would be reading a story about a certain topic and that was it. I came to realize that maybe my students claimed it was a new method of learning because I had approached the books in a whole different way. The way that I had been teaching it had been based off of research.

It made me wonder if there was a way to collect data in regards to how well the math concepts were taught using a literacy book. With that being said, I decided to teach a book that had been used the year before to teach the same lesson. However, I would make sure I had a hands-on lesson and a follow-up activity, which was different than the year before. Before starting the lesson, I would ask them if they remembered this book and what it was trying to teach. The book title *How Much is a Million*, gives away the concept so I will ask them to be specific on how it helped. The main goal of collecting this information is to be able to make a connection about what was different about the lessons. Right now I am wondering if it was it the approach of using literacy books to teach math that determined the success of the lesson?

I look forward to fine tuning my data analysis process, however, I also feel like I am running out of different ideas for collecting data. I will be exploring how much is enough data to complete this project. I will also be looking for ideas from others blogs. I feel like I am straggling behind and always find good ideas from others.

# Web Blog 4 10/11

To start out with, I am researching the positive affects of using literacy books to teach mathematical concepts. To begin the data collection, I had to plan lessons that used literacy books to teach mathematical concepts. My desire to conduct this action research project was based on my students’ apprehension towards mathematics.

The idea first arose when I was using the literacy book *Jim and the Beanstalk* by Raymond Briggs, as a book to engage students in the concept of measuring. I noticed that instantly all of my students were engaging in the book. In addition to engaging the students, it was apparent they more apt to participate in mathematics, because many students were participating when I asked literal comprehension questions about the concept of measuring. My first impression of using literacy books with this particular group of students was that they had an engaging effect and thus helped to teach the mathematical concept.

Once, I realized that this group of students responded very well to* Jim and the Beanstalk* by Raymond Briggs, I decided it was worth a try investigating whether or not incorporating literacy books into my mathematics curriculum was beneficial to students’ learning.

With that being said, I begin to investigate my observation with researching the topic of using literacy books to teach mathematics. I found a plethora of information supporting my initial findings that this method engages students. The research also gave me a greater understanding of how it engages and reinforces or teaches new concepts.

Once, I spent some time researching I continued on with my action research plan to test whether or not I see the same results with my own students as the research did. The next step for me was to work on my data collection. This took some thought and interaction between my professor and peers to get started.

After pondering how to start the data collection process, I delved into it with using a narrative journal response and observation notes. I did this by teaching a lesson with a picture book to teach about perimeter and area. After completing a perimeter/area math lesson that used the literacy book *Spaghetti and Meatballs for All: A Mathematical Story* by Marilyn Burns as a hook, I asked students to respond in their journals. Students responded to: How did you like learning math with literacy books? Did it help you to learn the math skill If so what was the math skill? How do you think learning would have been different without the literacy book? I was surprised with students’ willingness to answer such a wordy journal prompt. During the lesson I also jotted down notes of my students’ reactions.

The next step was to code the data into groups: negative, neutral, or positive. These groups indicated whether or not the students were engaged in the lesson due to the use of literacy books. I also decided to code whether or not students were able to identify the skill being taught with either: yes or no.

I have to admit there could have been some biases in the responses because my students are prone to pleasing me and it is obvious I love to use literacy books. Needless to say, the results are still in favor or using literacy books.

My next step in collecting data is to meet with other teachers for interviews. I will be interviewing to discuss their observations of how students react to the use of literacy books to teach mathematics concept.

All in all, I am starting to like this action research because it is allowing me to justify what and why I do things in my classroom. And most importantly it is a tool I can use to validate whether I am doing the right things academically for my students. I always want to be at the top of my game.

# Week 4

This week was busy and a learning experience writing a research proposal. I struggled with figuring out what was the most effective way to collect data for this qualitative research study and with the technology required to submit the final peer reviewed proposal.

I first had to decide on how I would collect data. I decided since it is an inductive qualitative study I would collect bits and pieces of information from both students and teachers to show that students have a different attitude towards math when using literature books. I will do this through a use of structured interviews, surveys, observations, and narrative responses. The data will be coded into groups that identify a change in students’ attitudes towards mathematics: neutral, positive, or negative.

My next struggle was with all the new technology skills required in order to submit my peer-reviewed proposal. I found myself getting completely overwhelmed with the technologies being used and a bit anxious as I waited for other students to send their papers. However, the tutorial video on how to submit the peer review proposal helped me tremendously.

After others sent me their papers I begun peer reviewing. I found it very helpful to read what others have done because it validated I was on the right track with my own paper. I also found myself reflecting on how I could make my research question clearer.

Once all the work was finished and the proposal was submitted I felt good about the assignment and the process. I liked being able to learn from others through the editing their work and learning from their comments of my work. It was a great collaborative process.

# Peer Reviewed Research Proposal

Literature book to engage students in mathematics

** **

**Rational for the Research**

How does the use of literacy books change my students’ attitudes about mathematics? My current caseload consists of 18 students in the 4^{th} grade, 5 boys and 13 girls. These students attend a title 1 school and many of these students have only attended this school making them non-transient. At the beginning of the year, many of these students did not respond well to the learning of new math concepts and stated their disliking towards mathematics. The use of literacy books at the start of a lesson to introduce, reinforce, and or hook the students’ attention on mathematics was practiced to see if students would change their attitudes towards mathematics. Using literacy books to start out the lesson does take more time than skipping to explicit instruction, however, the engaging effects of literacy books might be worth the efforts. The aim of this research is to show how through the use of literacy book in mathematics students will become more apt to take part in mathematics.

**Literature Review**

Connecting mathematics through literature books is not a new idea and there is a growing body of research supporting the inclusion of literacy books to teach mathematics. There is plenty of literature on the topic of including literacy books in mathematics lessons. Literacy books have the potential to engage students and improve the learning that takes place during mathematics due to the natural flow of mathematical ideas.

Literacy books can be used as a tool to hook and engage the students by introducing the mathematical concepts through the use of a story. Project Science and Mathematics Integrated with Literacy Experiences (SMILE) studied fifth-grade students using literature books to teach mathematics found an increase in students’ interest and confidence in mathematics (Ruiz, Thornton, & Cuero, 2010, p.235). Robin A. Ward (2005) in her article Using children’s literature in inspire K-8 pre-service teachers’ future mathematics pedagogy gives a qualitative description of incorporating literature books that suggests positive outcomes. Many of the studies conducted have qualitative data that suggest the power and positive effect literature books have on the teaching of mathematical ideas.

Literature books serve as a real world connection to mathematics. Students are able to better link mathematics if they have a visual image to connect to the mathematical concept. Ruiz, E., Thornton, J., & Cuero, K. (2010) reference Rushton and Larkin (2001) statement that, “symbolic representations like letters and numbers were better learned if they could be linked or connected to vivid visual images such as pictures (p.236).” Literature books serve as the real world connection students can link the mathematical idea with.

“integrating literature into the mathematics curriculum provides a natural setting for observing mathematics in the real world, and thus conveying real meaning to students (Ward, 2005, p.134).”

Literature books naturally connect mathematics through a medium some students have confidence in thus boosting their confidence with mathematics. For many students mathematics is intimidating language to learn and literacy books can help ease the transition of a new language. According to Marilyn Burns (2005), when teaching math, “children’s books can be a great math teaching tool” and “connecting math to literature can boost the confidence of those who love books but are math-wary” (p.27). Furthermore, mathematics should not be taught in isolation, “the separation of language and mathematics instruction in the elementary grade is very unnatural for children (Moyers, 2000, p.255).

Patricia S. Moyer (2000) the author of Communicating mathematically: Children’s literature as a natural connection points out, “Children literature provides a context through which mathematical concepts, patterns, problem solving, and real-world context may be explored (p.246).” By using children’s books to teach mathematics children began to see mathematics as a part of everyday experiences.

The NCTM documents states: “When mathematics evolves naturally from problem situations that have meaning to children and are regularly related to their environment, becomes relevant and helps children link their knowledge to many kinds of situations (Moyers, 2000, p.249).”

Thus, children’s books that have pattern development also help develop mathematical thinking.

There are plenty of examples modeling how to incorporate literature books into mathematics lessons. According to Patricia S. Moyer (2000), “ there are literally hundreds books that naturally develop mathematical concepts (p.247).” Within Moyer’s article (2000) she provides an annotated list of books that teach mathematical concepts. Marilyn Burns (2005) provides 3 detailed lessons with step-by-step directions on how the lesson might look with her favorite mathematics lessons using literature books.

With the growing body of research indicating the positive impact literature books have on teaching mathematics one should expect to see mathematical improvements if they include this teaching method.

** **

**Method**

**Participants **

The participants for this action research study were 5 male students and 13 female students from the 4^{th} grade classroom. The study was conducted during their regular mathematics-learning period.

**Materials**

In this study, structured interviews of teacher were conducted, as they were available via in-person. Students were given a structured survey and responded to it. This survey required students to think about what math was like before using literacy books and after. It was on a scale from 1 to 5. The teacher conducted observations as students were being introduced to mathematical concepts through the use of literacy books. Students responded to mathematical lessons using journal responses. These journals were coded by students’ responses. All data was coded by the teacher using the codes: positive, negative, and neutral. Data collecting lasted for a 4-week period.

** **

**Procedure**

In this study, the intention is to explore the benefits that literacy books have on the mathematics curriculum by engaging the student and providing real world connections. If I provide a literature book to teach a lesson that requires student interaction to complete the lesson I should see an increase in students’ attitudes towards mathematics. The literature books will be used as a method to engage and make connections with students. With the use of literacy books in mathematics, students should become more comfortable and apt to do math based on the engaging affects and real-world connections.

This qualitative study took about 4 weeks and involved using the qualitative inductive design. Bits and pieces of information from interviews, observations, surveys and narrative statement (journal responses) were combined and ordered into themes. The two themes were students engage in mathematics due to literature books and students make real-world connections due to literature books. Data was collected using narrative statements from both teacher and students. Teachers were approached in-person and students were asked to respond to narrative statements in a journal. These responses were grouped into categories: neutral, positive, and negative. From data it was theorized that students preferred and developed a greater sense of mathematical ideas when literacy books were integrated into the mathematics curriculum.

It is important to note that some biases may have influenced the responses of candidates in the study because the researcher and teacher conducting this study is very fond of using literacy books and encourages students to like them as well.

**Bibliography**

** **

Burns, M. (2005). 3 lessons by Marilyn Burns: using storybooks to teach math. *Instructor*, *114*(7), 27-30.

Cotti, R., & Schiro, M. (2004). Connecting teacher beliefs to the use of children’s literature in the teaching of mathematics. *Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education*, *7*(4), 329-356.

Hong, H. (1996). Effects of mathematics learning through children’s literature on math achievement and dispositional outcomes. *Early Childhood Research Quarterly*, *4*(11), 477-494.

Mink, D., & Fraser, B. (2005). Evaluation of a K-5 mathematics program which integrates children’s literature: classroom environment and attitudes. *International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education*, *3*, 59-85.

Moyer, P. (2000). Communicating mathematically: children’s literature as a natural connection. *The Reading Teacher*, *54*(3), 246-255.

Ruiz, E., Thornton, J., & Cuero, K. (2010). Integrating literature in mathematics: a

teaching technique for mathematics teacher. *School Science and Mathematics*, *110*(5), 235-237.

Shatzer, J. (2008). Picture book power: connecting children’s literature and mathematics. *The Reading Teacher*, *61*(8), 649-653.

Thatcher, D. (2001). Reading in math class: selecting and using picture books for math investigations. *young children*, *July*, 20-21.

Ward, R. (2005). Using children’s literature to inspire K-8 preservice teachers’ future mathematics pedagogy. *The Reading Teacher*, *59*(2), 132-143.