Math and the Library

This past week, I focused on getting information for my PLN through Facebook. This was an arduous task, as I have liked over 350 pages on the site. Basically, I scrolled down my pages feed and clicked the notifications button for any of my pages related to library science or education. I also added a couple of pages as well. These included Teacher Librarian, ALSC, Edutopia and The Library of Congress. Setting up these pages for notifications didn’t disappoint. Within minutes, I was notified of important articles within the education and library field. I organized all my newfound gems by creating a PLN board on Pinterest.

One article I found by Herbert P. Ginsburg in Mindshift was about the importance of reading storybooks about math to young children.  Within these math books, children can learn about patterns, numbers, shapes and measurement to name a few. The math in the story can be obvious or subtle. For instance, the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears focuses on size and order.

This math article put me on a wild goose chase trying to find everything math related. By the way, I am not a math person. I tend to shy away from it, but know that for my future job I will need an arsenal of tools, even for the math teacher.

How can we help this teacher and his or her students? Finding math in literature is one obvious way. From my investigation, I found several math blog posts about math in literature. Erica who blogs for What Do We Do All Day? shared a post about chapter books that have math concepts. She also wrote an article about math picture books. I will keep these book lists handy when I suggest math storybooks to teachers.

Using fiction books about math is a great way to incorporate math in the library, but how do we merge research and inquiry with mathematics? This was a little trickier to find. Finally, I stumbled upon a couple of articles from Mindshift. One written by Linda Flanagan, spotlighted middle school math teacher Elizabeth Little, She decided to bring math to life for her students through a maker approach. She incorporated sewing, woodshop and circuitry into her classes. According to Little, “When students must work in groups to complete a real project, all of these mathematical standards come into play.  Instead of being told, ‘Your calculations are wrong,’ students experience a real setback in their creation and must problem solve to get it working.”

This got me to thinking that I could use these maker type activities in my future library.  Architecture, interior design, engineering, sewing and cooking are some of the topics that could be addressed. All the while, problem solving would be at the forefront of the investigations.

Finally, I found an article from TeachThought entitled “What Project Based Learning Looks Like in Math.” This article summarized six ways that math could be used in an inquiry setting. One example mentioned exploring trends in housing.  From here, the students would predict what houses of the future would be like and then use geometry skills to design those houses. This is definitely a way that the librarian could collaborate with the math teacher and integrate information literacy into the lesson. From now on, I will be on the lookout for ideas such as this. As I said earlier, teacher librarians are to serve all teachers- even the math teacher.  


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