Friday, February 15, 2013

Math-Storytelling: What math stories do you like?

I woke up early, thinking about how much I like storytelling as a way to ground math lessons.

  • I'd like to get my son working on the Life of Fred books. I thought I bought the first one. But where is it? I have so many math books, it might take a detective to find it. (Fred goes from basic arithmetic past calculus.)
  • I was also thinking that I need to get A's address, so I can send her Math Girls I and II. (The math here is pretty high-level.)
  • I got up, and look what I found in Google Reader! The textbook had a typo, and the class ran with it. Then they got Grant Wiggins in on the act, and he gave them some more food for thought - hay, actually. The class that's having all this math fun is a middle school algebra class.
  • I've mentioned before how differently I've organized my calculus course. (Why, oh why, do most textbooks start with a whole chapter on limits?!) So of course, I'm silly enough to think maybe I should write a calculus textbook. If I do, it's gotta have some characters who are wandering through the wilds of calculus, or something like that...

Other math storytelling:

  • The Cat in Numberland, which will be available soon, is good for almost any age. The math is simple enough for a child to think about, and yet deep enough to get even most adults scratching their heads.
  • The Number Devil explores lots of topics that can be enjoyed by middle schoolers on up.
  • The Man Who Counted can be enjoyed by upper elementary students on up, and the story is delightfully intricate.
  • Surreal Numbers was perhaps the first math story I encountered, many years ago. Proof-oriented and dense, with just enough storyline to add a little spice.
  •  This list and this overlapping one include a few other math stories.
  • Art of Problem Solving is starting a series for kids called Beast Academy. So far they have 3 of the 4 books for 3rd grade. They eventually intend to provide beasts for 2nd through 5th grade. (Too bad they use grade designations - I think older kids would like these, but my son would probably be annoyed at doing something that's for 3rd grade.)

If you like to tell stories, it might be even more fun to make up your own. Maria Droujkova created Math Storytelling Day on her (and my!) birthday to celebrate making our own stories. Here's one a friend made up.

What have I left out?

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