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.