Thursday, August 10, 2017

Teaching Mathematics as Storytelling.

Children, Newspaper, Story Telling  After reading that short article in Medium, I decided to explore the idea of teaching mathematics as story telling.  A more generalized topic.

Having gone through a traditional teacher training program, I was never exposed to the idea of teaching mathematics as story telling.  To help me understand how to teach this way, I found a book by Rina Zazkiz and Peter Liljedahl on this very topic.The link goes to a 33 page sample for the book you can buy on

The authors spend the first two chapters discussing the different types of stories and elements needed to make up a story before discussing storytelling in a variety of contexts.

Beginning with chapter five, the authors discuss different types of stories and provide examples of each type.  I do well when presented with examples so I can pinpoint the elements of the story.

In chapter 20, the authors take time to explain how to create a story from scratch and provide examples before addressing using existing stories.  It comes in a pdf file, that can be downloaded.  I downloaded so I can read up on it in more detail.


One article I read proposed Dan Meyer with his Three Act problems and Karim Ani of Mathalicious 
are modern math storytellers with the activities they have created.  Activities which  hook the students, provide the math within the context of a story, and allow them time to figure out answers.  I'd always seen them as performance tasks for students to work on.  I'd never actually considered them as teaching mathematics as storytelling but they are, aren't they?  They tell a story filled with information and ask a question to be solved. 

I'm impressed with the idea of using storytelling to teach math because it is human nature to enjoy listening to stories and as shown, most people remember the key ideas of any story they read or hear.  Since reading this information, I've wondered if it would work having high school students read elementary level mathematical based picture books and then writing a book report discussing the math in the book. 

I'm thinking of books like those in the Sir Circumference series or Counting on Frank, or One Grain of Rice.  Since I work with English Language Learners, this activity might improve their comprehension of the written word.  They are great at decoding but their ability to comprehend is way behind.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.  Have a great evening.  As you read this, I am in my hotel room in Helsinki waiting for a conference to start. If I learn anything, I'll share it with everyone, next week when I get home.