Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Importance of Story-telling

Eureka! Who remembers the story of Archimedes discovering an important mathematical principal whilst enjoying a dip in the bath? The story of Archimedes observing the displacement of the water as he entered the bath and realising that volume could be measured by this displacement is far more memorable than reading the following:

"....the upward buoyant force that is exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces."

Stories are a wonderful way to engage students with both maths and science principles and to make them memorable.

Stories are able to bring possibly abstract principles to life and to explain them in unique ways that connect with students at their level of understanding and worldly experience. It's important to note though that not all students do have a similar world experience and therefore culturally responsive stories are essential.

I've both searched the internet and my local library to find titles that will inspire and explain Maths and Science principles for students at varying age levels. It seems to me that there are far more stories available for younger students which is a shame. But even then I admit I have struggled to find a series of books that I could turn to when introducing a new maths concept/principle or to address a maths misconception.

One of my favourite made up 'stories' I used in my own class was the story of 'Anne', the bank teller who didn't understand place value. Poor Anne would hand out the wrong money, give the wrong change, couldn't order numbers properly and much more! Anne had a rather ditzy voice I'm afraid and whenever we were facing place value problems the kids would always want to know 'what would Anne say?!'. So I would miraculously turn into Anne and suddenly know nothing at all about ones, tens and hundreds.....One of the children would have to help tell Anne why she was wrong. They loved it. They could also see the authentic context of place value when it came to money. 

What stories do you use in your classrooms?

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