Saturday, May 10, 2014

Exploring Math Visual Literacy

I have been thinking differently about math all year. Actually my thoughts started to shift last summer when I drove with Mary Lee and Mandy to a writing retreat. I learned when our children were teenagers to volunteer to  drive anywhere and just "sit back and listen." As Mary Lee and Mandy discussed the idea of math visual literacy, I thought about that conversation several times this year during math lesson planning. Last week I followed some tweets from Franki, Mandy, Katie, and Brian about #nerdymathclub. Their conversation was about professional books that they were planning on reading this summer.  I have accumulated visual math photos throughout the school year and collected my own math books to read.  I think I am ready to focus on math literacy for summer 2014.

Last week, after OAA testing, and I refused to use another worksheet or packet for the last few days of the week, I passed out colored graphs that I tore out of Kidbits book that I love for graphing. I purchased two - one I tore up and the other one is in my math library. Once I use these graphs, my students are excited to check out the rest of the graphs in the book since they are organized in student friendly categories: food, sports, music, clothing.

Thinking about math as integrated literacy has shifted my instruction. Our focus this year has been "MATH is about READING".  My students say the phrase with me. We look at "reading" computations and "reading" story problems. I have always enjoyed math because I was the student who always tried to solve the problem differently than my teacher showed us.  "IT HAD TO BE DONE" this way. But not for me. This idea has also shifted my math instruction this year. I always begin this is one way to think about... do you have another way? 

This year we had two days of release time for professional development for integrating Common Core math next year in fifth grade.  The focus of both PD sessions were about rich story problems. I have to admit I did not see enough practice problems on the strategies, and I continued to ask the facilitator about practice. There needs to be a balance within my required 80 minute block, but as I reflect on this year I believe starting with math visual literacy is the best place to begin.


  1. So happy to be part of your journey. I better pay closer attention to things I say on a car ride. :) Practice has a place, but I think smaller than we all realize if we keep using math with purpose and good intentions.

    1. Hopefully we will have have another car ride this summer. Always enjoy sharing new experiences with you especially ice cream.