5 Simple Ideas to Enhance Literacy in a Math Classroom

1. 18 Wheels on a Big Rig written by Haywood Banks is a fun song that uses different math concepts as they apply to eighteen wheels on a big rig truck. Imagine if you assigned students to create an original song about something in our daily lives that centers around numbers. For examples, 7 days of the week or the 9 planets. Students can use the numbers to express different math concepts from the elementary (even and odd numbers) to the complex (Roman Numerals and Pie). Student could get extra credit if they brought in additional math concepts in their song.

2. An Ode to Math. Poetry is a great way to help students put into words their understanding of different math concepts and equations.

3. Students create How-To Videos. Similar to the Khan Academy Videos, online videos that teach specific concepts about math, have students create their own how to videos using free screenshot capture programs like Jing or Screen Toaster

4. Numbers: NPR’s Radio Lab Podcast on the influence of numbers in our daily lives. Could we live without numbers and math? I am a huge Radio Lab fan and this podcast was one of the most inspiring, especially if math is not your strong suit. Playing off Johnny Cash’s song “25 Minutes To Go,” this podcast explores mathematical forensics and how a baby understands numbers. This podcast can be shared with students (listen for homework or listen in class) and then students can explore other careers that involve mathematics – What can you do with a degree in Mathematics? Assignment. I had never heard of mathematical forensic before listening to this podcast.

5. Read Aloud to your students the first chapter of Ian Stewart’s Letters to a Young Mathematician (2006) and then have students go on a mathematical scavenger hunt taking photo snap shots of all the things that use “math or have math on the inside,” as Stewart describes. Calculators and computers would be the obvious things that students can take photographs but they should also include the things that people do not pay attention to that involve math: cars, ipods and dvd players, special effects, these few are mentioned in the first few pages of the book but there is are so many more places where math is hiding. Make students uncover the places math is hiding.

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