Monday, October 29, 2012

Math Talk - A Resources for discussing Math

Math Talk - Teaching Concepts and Skills Through Illustrations and Stories by Char Forsten and Torri Richards is one of those resources I've had for a bit of time and have been wanting to explore more.  My district recently adopted a new resource to help teach math and one of the components frequently used throughout this text is a visual picture for discussing math concepts in a language-based setting.  I have a huge problem with the quality of pictures this resource has selected to use and remembered I had a book at home with a similar idea.  

Without saying much I feel like you need to try and help you, my reader visualize the first picture K teachers are asked to discuss.  There are pairs of rainbow colored - humanized vegetables.  It's hard to see the math or numbers when green beans look like stripped knee high socks.  Also, the teaching guide discussion points are weak mathematically with no differentiation.

Thank goodness Math Talk was home waiting for me.  Math Talk uses pictures that are based on nursery rhymes and various themes.  The pictures are realistic settings and use real people or animals in a setting that is appropriate and natural.  There are 20 pages and opportunities to get you started with suggestions to take it farther with pictures from High Five magazine from Highlights, photographs, picture books and student illustrative work.  

The process of talking about mathematics based on an illustration begins with looking at the illustration and discussing what you see.  It might activate background knowledge and comprehension.  The next step begins with exploring the mathematics.  Math Talk provides a journey of questions to guide students thinking for deeper learning and thinking.  Beginning questions helps students count and model one to one correspondence.  The Intermediate questions helps children think about number groups.  Advanced questions help students subitize and begin seeing number stories as addition or subtraction.  Challenging questions use counting on and counting down strategies while require students to understand cardinality.  New characters or objects might be discussed within the illustration.  Differentiation and various thinking can be modeled within our classrooms for our various learners. 

This type of activity would make a great opening for math workshop.  It could lead into looking at photographs of math in our lives.  Char Forsten has spent time in Singapore learning about their approach for teaching mathematics and brought this idea back with her and implemented it in American schools to help develop number sense and concepts beyond.

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