Oral Storytelling & Teaching Mathematics: Pedagogical and Multicultural Perspectives

“This book presents two stories created by Michael Schiro and told by Doris Lawson in her mathematics classroom. The authors lay a foundation for weaving together mathematics and an epic story. The purpose of telling an epic story, one that takes several days to finish, is to “guide students through several stages of learning in order to help them develop mathematical skills.” The story not only presents mathematical skills that students need to learn but also situates the mathematics in a context that is interesting, engaging, and relevant. Part 1, “The Wizard's Tale,” discusses teaching addition and multidigit number. The full story, with commentary, is presented. This story is intended primarily for second-third-, and fourth-grade students. Part 2, “The Egypt Story,” connects problem solving and the social studies curriculum by exploring ancient Egypt. This story has been used with sixth graders. An accompanying CD contains the complete text of each story and the worksheets used during the lesson. Various other materials needed are also described. If it is true that every teacher is an actor or actress at heart, the challenge to develop one's oral story-telling skills is intriguing. Equally important, however, is the rich discussion about such issues as the structural relationship among teachers, students, and mathematics; the pedagogical issues in teaching and learning mathematics; mathematics and culture; multicultural mathematics instruction; and ideology. I would definitely recommend this book to all those who teach mathematics.”

--Jean Morrow, Emporia State University, MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL

“This book makes significant contributions to the field of mathematics education in many areas. Its use of oral storytelling as a means of teaching algorithms and problem solving, its presentation of a collaborative teaching model that can be generalized to all mathematics teaching, its presentation of a new perspective on problem solving, enhancing the currently popular approach, and its insights into multicultural mathematics all provide a wealth of knowledge for pre-service and in-service classroom teachers as well as mathematics education instructors.”

--Dr. Rainy M. Cotti, Rhode Island College

“It is very well written. It avoids math education jargon, but at the same time discusses deep issues in the subject. References to the literature are useful and well chosen…. The book flows very well. very well. I liked the way of starting with stories and the stories of the classroom lessons. This gives a good foundation for the more theoretical discussions later in the book.”

—Susan Addington, California State University, San Bernardino

Epic oral storytelling is an exciting new instructional method that complements existing ways of teaching. Oral Storytelling and Teaching Mathematics: Pedagogical and Multicultural Perspectives provides the first serious exploration of the role that oral storytelling can play in helping children learn mathematics.

Oral Storytelling and Teaching Mathematics contains two case studies of teachers telling epic oral stories to teach math to elementary and middle school students. The book also includes theoretical discussions of essential elements of oral storytelling, multicultural education, how oral storytelling can help children who have difficulty learning mathematics, and mathematical problem solving. This book significantly extends two pedagogical movements that have recently influenced mathematics teaching: the use of physical manipulatives and visual imagery and the use of children's literature. It takes a giant leap in leaving behind the written word for oral language and integrating serious mathematical explorations with fantasy.

Author Michael Stephen Schiro presents the teaching of mathematics—often a high-anxiety subject—in a non-threatening, innovative fashion via the use of epic storytelling. It is written in a conversational tone, and includes numerous sample illustrations. The book's presentation of stories, how a teacher actually used them in class (along with students' responses), and a discussion of the educational value of such strategies make this a comprehensive work that recognizes teachers' capabilities and concerns about employing the best available educational practices. The accompanying CD-ROM contains the full text of two epic stories plus additional worksheets, handouts, and artwork. This book will be of immediate interest to both pre-service and in-service teachers, and all educators devoted to providing children powerful mathematical and literary experiences.

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