05 February 2012

When’s the last time you connected math and reading?

For someone who never really enjoyed mathematics as any part of my schooling, I was pleasantly surprised this week when I attended a mathematics design collaborative meeting and learned about conceptual thinking that is real mathematics.   I even liked it!  I suspect one of the reasons I enjoyed myself is because my two boys have me thinking more about math these days, and since we’ve also been on a quest to explore Greek and Roman mythology, Pythagorean theorem was actually interesting to me, a social sciences and humanities major. 

I have received numerous questions from educators about how to teach Greek and Latin roots and Greek mythology as called for in the Common Core State Standards.  Just what is the best way to help kids understand CCSS Reading Literature #4?  Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g. Herculean).  Or CCSS Language #4b.  Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word.  Hopefully, we can provide kids opportunities to make natural connections by exposing them to fantastic texts they enjoy and by engaging them in word study. 

Integrated learning.  Because he’s read Rick Riordian’s The Lightening Thief and the rest of the series, my ten year old is familiar with gods and goddesses from Greek and Roman mythology.  This week he and I watched a Discovery channel documentary on the early days of NASA space exploration.   Imagine his delight when the first segment of the documentary focused on Apollo.  He naturally made a connection, telling me “I bet they named it that because Apollo was god of the sun”.  At his elementary school’s parent night a couple of days later, this same son’s teacher approached me to share a story about an Aha moment during word study time at school.  She said she saw a sparkle in his eyes when he began connecting words to grad.  “That’s why we have 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade; we are stepping up each year….” Turns out she has the kids participating in word study followed up by Shared Inquiry discussions about texts.  It’s learning that’s integrated and it makes sense for kids.

Learn science.  Learn math.  Learn history.  Learn literature.   Learn the arts.  Learn language.  And never stop learning.   You will no doubt encounter many of the great derivatives and myths from western culture, and you may even connect math and reading.
Three of my favorite online resources for teaching Greek and Latin root words & Greek and Roman mythology include: