Identifying theoretical foundations for the integration of children's literature and mathematics: Two cases studies
Integrating children's literature and mathematics is a popular strategy used by many teachers to meet the Standards for mathematics education as outlined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). At this time literature on integrating math and literature focuses on books, lesson ideas and students' responses. What led teachers to decide to integrate these two subjects, and an articulated theoretical grounding for this strategy, is largely absent in current literature.
The purpose of this study is to answer the following questions: How does a teacher come to implement integrating children's literature and mathematics as a strategy for designing mathematics instruction? and Is integrating children's literature and mathematics a teaching strategy that is constructivist and/or brain compatible? Constructivist theory informs us that individuals construct and co-construct knowledge; each of us builds or creates knowledge from our experiences. What we learn is directly related to what we experience and the interplay between old and new experiences; how we make meaning. Brain-based learning theory weaves together knowledge of how the human brain functions and the design of learning experiences that are brain compatible. I chose these two theories in particular to identify connection between practice and theory and because they are widely recognized by educators as grounding for effective educational practice.
To answer the two research questions, I designed two case studies. Each case study focuses on a veteran elementary school teacher in the process of integrating children's literature and mathematics as a strategy for designing mathematics instruction. Primary sources of data for the case studies are interviews with the teachers about their decision-making process, and the observation and analysis of integrated math and literature lessons for theoretical grounding.
Based on the data collected I found that the two teachers who participated in this study each came to integrate children's literature and mathematics through participation in professional development. The integrated children's literature and math lessons I observed and analyzed met the theoretical criteria for constructivism and brain compatible learning. Use of children's literature and the teachers' lesson design are key aspects of theoretically grounding lessons that integrate children's literature and mathematics.
0524: Elementary education