Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Story Grows a Math Lesson

I was looking for a “chapter book” to read to my class. I try to read 3-4 per year while still reading multitudes of picture books and non-fiction books. I have always had a great affection for books penned by Thorton Burgess. The books are hard to find these days so I scanned their availability on my nook. Sure enough there were several titles available for a very cheap price. I download, The Adventures of Reddy Fox.

My students are aware of my nook and how it works as I had earlier shared a couple picture books using the document camera and the nook. I told them I had downloaded a chapter book which I had once read to my sons and to many of my former students. My class was hooked before the end of the first short chapter. Reddy Fox is such a naughty fellow, most kids love and identify with him.

The intent was to entertain my students with a lengthy story of woodland and meadow creatures. I did not expect the little added bonus. The kids couldn’t believe  that there were no pictures and often peered over my shoulder to double check. One of my students spotted the Roman numerals which decorated each new chapter. I was asked what those letters were for. I took the time to show how people long ago displayed numbers a different way that we do today. I shared  the symbols for one, five and ten, and then showed the students how the symbol for one before a larger number represented take away and a the symbol for one after a larger number represented addition. We played with the numbers for a few minutes and moved on.

Today I gave a math assessment. Each student was given a number and told to show representations of that number as many different ways as possible. Students showed numbers as addition sentences, subtraction sentences, tens and ones, number words, and to my surprise many tried to write their number using Roman numerals. Thank you, Mr. Burgess.

Slice XXIV


  1. I have that image of the kids, peering over your shoulder, wondering: where the heck are the pictures?

  2. Ha! I love impromptu lessons like that. Good for you for making the time for it.

  3. I distinctly remember my first chapter book with no pictures--I felt so grown-up. I can just see your students, peering over your shoulder, wondering where they are at. But I know a few of them were excited to "graduate" to the next level.

    I also love how you snuck in a little math...

  4. What a great story about your students! I like how you ended it with the roman numeral for the slice...

  5. The Burgess books were the first chapter books my son really got into.