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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Count On Teacher Librarians To Support New Math Standards

By Dr. Lesley Farmer, CSI Committee Chair

Mathematics might not be the first subject that comes to mind when thinking about ways that Teacher Librarians (TLs) and other library staff can support Common Core State Standards (CCSS). However, many of the new math standards are mirrored in the California Model School Library Standards and ICT (information and communication technology) literacy. CSLA’s Curriculum and Standards Integration Committee’s May webinar explained these issues (the recorded webinar will be available on the CSLA website at some point). Here are some of the issues covered online.

       As you know the library standards state that students should be able to access, evaluate and use information, ans well as integrate information literacy skills into all areas of learning. Numeracy is part of information literacy so libraries do need to offer a range of materials in different formats that can inform students about math: from math-oriented picture books (e.g., concept books, visuals,biographies, embedded math in stories) to online math tutorials (e.g., www.math.com, www.khanacademy.org, www.mathplanet.com). Titles can vary from Jon Scieszka’s Math Curse to Danica McKellar’s Math Doesn’t Suck, and Edwin Abbott’s Flatland. Recreational math books can pique  student interest in math, such as The Mathematics of Oz, Golden Meaning, The Grapes of Math. But, wait, there’s more. Librarians can also provide links to repositories of resources that include math (e.g., http://www.merlot.org , http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Content_Directories, https://nsdl.oercommons.org/).
                The new math standards differ from proscriptive specific objectives such as “Solve quadratic equations” in that they focus on mathematical reasoning more than rote skills. When teachers ask a student to express as a function, they also want students to explain their problem-solving process and thinking. Let’s take a look at each math practice, and how they align with ICT literacy and library standards.
  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Extracting meaning is a core information literacy skills, and perseverence is critical for inquiry.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Research skills involve inferential thinking. Being able to represent information numerically is an important literacy skill as well.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Critical thinking and comparing conflicting information are key skills for both research processing and communication. Critiquing can lead to the deepr concept of peer review.
  4. Model with mathematics. As with #2, understanding and being able to represent information in different ways helps extract key features.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically. Matching the resource to the task, and using that tool effectively, are core literacy practices.
  6. Attend to precision. Anyone who knows what happens if cataloging or shelving is incorrect appreciates this practice.
  7. Look for and make use of structure. Information structure, such as the DDC and databases, are central functions of information organizatoin and retrieval.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Building on prior knowledge, such as citation styles and searching strategies, accelerates learning.
Furthermore, math includes several aspects of reading literacy:
       Focusing on discipline-specific vocabulary
       Noting unique text structures found in informational text
       Developing informational and technical writing skills
       Focusing on critical analysis and evidence.
Here are some of the associated specific math standard indicators:
       Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grade-level texts and topics. (6-12.RST.4)
       Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of math and other technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions. (6-8.ST.1)
       Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words. (9-10.ST.7)
       Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content (6-12.WHST.1)
       Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of math/technical processes (6-12.WHST.2)
       Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed. (6-8.WHST.5)
Digital literacy is also found in the math standards, as follows:
       Practice reading screen-based texts
       Practice in digital writing (including math symbols)
       Practice in collaborative writing
       Practice in working with informational texts (e.g., links)
       Practice in using math-based simulations.
So how do TLs get started in collaborating with math teachers? The most obvious first step is to jointly look at the math standards and the state math framework  and align them with the model school library standards. Together identify the prerequisite information and digital literacy skills needed for students to be successful mathematically. Librarians should give a tour of the library’s resources that support math (don’t forget math-related materials such as almanacs and spreadsheet applications); library collections, especially in primary grades, should also include math manipulatives. Together, TLs and math techers can develop information-rich learning activities that meld math and ICT literacy.  Here are some math-related learning activity idea starters:
       Compare numerical systems around the world
       Locate newspaper stories that involve math
       Research how sports uses math
       Research the impact of technology on math – and impact of math on technology
       Locate and conduct statistics on data sets
       Capture photos of geometry in nature
       Create a math-based infographic
       Create a graphic novel about a math concept
       Use drawing software to make tessellations
       Explore math-related careers.

More Resources:

In sum, TLs  + math teachers = student success!