Monday, September 28, 2009

Math iTunes to Literacy

I have been teaching math for 30 years plus and sometimes I find myself in a glorious sea of numbers. Yet, I have also been guilty of thinking that my math rules the world. Silly, silly me! Now I am seeing things from a different perspective and I know that it is not about the content, but about the thinking. This became quite clear and obvious during the three days I attended the Content Literacy Academy in August. This academy had an awesome influential impact on me. I participated in many activities while there and learned new strategies that I wanted to implement into my classes. Actually, I was rather anxious to start the school year.

I walked away knowing that my thinking had been redirected and my instructional practices were definitely going to be enhanced and geared just as much toward literacy as math. This year Huntington Middle School has implemented a 20-minute school-wide literacy initiative. As a result of this initiative, there has been an enormous amount of new learning experiences in all classes.

In math we are tuning to literacy. We tune to FM MAG7 (the Magnificent Seven Comprehension Strategies) daily. This is our #1 station. As a matter of the fact, the only station we tune to in math. During week 1, we had a great time jumping to the first strategy we implemented which was Making Connections. We used the Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Kit.

The math classes read the narrative play, Making Allowances. We had five 20 minute lessons planned and effectively used. Our students made many connections while tuning to FM MAG7. They became an active part of the narrative text as they made text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections. These three connections were all real life connections.

The text-to-self connections were easy of course. The text-to-text required some explanations and I had to make it seem real to them by asking them to think about textbooks read. Students asked if movies could be included. So we went into having students to make connections to movies seen, songs heard, and sports played or interested in playing, etc. This seemed to capture students even more and they began to tune more into making connections. They actually, “pumped up the volume.” So when we got into text-to-world, they were so involved that the connections they were making were astonishing, even thought provoking to me. But they were “tuned” into the right station.

Of course, we had to talk math, so we did. As a culminating activity, to connect with text title, every student received an allowance (play money and checks) based on participation points. We gathered the data and found the mean, median, mode of the allowances. We also discussed how other data displays can represent the allowances given.

Twenty minutes a day for math to tune in to literacy isn’t enough time. Once the students start making connections there is no switching gears. When you walk into math classes it is obvious that Math iTunes to Literacy at Huntington Middle School.

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