Friday, May 15, 2015

What's Math got to Do With It?

Confession: I’m not a librarian. But I work with them every day and I’m a BIG fan.

So, now that we have that out of the way, I’d also like to tell you that I not only love math but love finding ways to incorporate literacy skills into math content and instruction. One thing I see over and over again is the lack of math in our school libraries. I don’t think it’s necessarily for lack of trying, I just think it’s more about “tradition” than anything. Often libraries are seen as the center of literacy and information, and rarely seen as a place to teach and apply mathematical practices.  With that being said, it seems librarians and math teachers aren’t always sure how to work together to meet math and literacy standards.

Well, we are trying to break down those walls in MNPS and make our libraries the center of teaching and learning across all disciplines, math included!

So, what’s a librarian to do? Here are some thoughts… 

Curating  resources 
Use your role as an information specialist to curate resources for math teachers. Find the best print and digital resources that match state standards and make them easily accessible to teachers and students 

Incorporating Literature 
There are a ton of math and literature resources available. Make sure to add these books to your collection. Then, reach out to math teachers with some interesting ideas on how to incorporate literature into their classes. 

You could also create “math” displays in the library featuring one or more of the books and even an activity to go along with them. Like this one… 

Now that you’re reading in math, why not start writing? Work with a teacher to implement writing in their math classes. You could help them develop a writing process the students can use to reflect on their work and learning. 

Problem Solving 
If students are going to be able to solve problems, they need to read and comprehend the problem first. Share reading strategies with teachers that will help their students break down the problem so they are able to pull out the necessary information to solve it. 

Vocabulary Development 
Vocabulary development is so important on so many levels. This is just another “in” you can use to begin working with math teachers and luring them into the library.  Plan vocabulary lessons with the teachers and either teach or co-teach lessons that help students gain the necessary vocabulary they need to be successful. 

Lesson Planning 
Now that you have established yourself as an instructional partner through any (or all!) of the above strategies, why not start helping math teachers plan full lessons. Collaborate on where to best incorporate the above the strategies, manipulatives, co-teaching models, etc… 

Now that you’ve started lesson planning, why not start co-teaching! Co-teaching would create a situation where manipulatives and math centers could really be center stage and provide a hands-on and engaging learning experience for students. 

MakerSpaces are definitely making their way into libraries all across the country. We have several schools in MNPS with varying levels of a MakerSpace in their library. If this is an option for you, this is just another way to get math incorporated into the library. You can have math manipulatives, measurement tools, and task cards with math activities ready to go for students to use. 

Professional Development 
And, last, but not least, seek out your own professional development in these areas so you are prepared but also ready to provide professional development and resources to your math teachers to keep best practices and best resources fresh in their mind.

As you can see there is A LOT that librarians can do to bring math into the library and into math classes. As with anything else, don’t try to do it all at once! Start small, with one or two suggestions on this list or with just one or two teachers you know would be willing participants.

Have you had any successful lessons or collaborations with a math teacher? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Team Library

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