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Telling Math Stories

Teaching mathematics is so much more than the sharing of facts, algorithms, diagrams, equations, numbers, etc. Teaching mathematics is like telling an interesting story, with a plot (sorry for the pun!), chapters, characters that appear and then reappear, exciting moments, unexpected twists, historical asides, etc. Most teachers enter their classrooms with enthusiasm and enjoyment relative to mathematics, and the story approach provides a great way to share this enthusiasm and excitement with students.

But, most mathematics teachers are not trained (or orientated) to tell stories, let alone share math content vis a story mode. Yet, teachers know that a good story can create curiosity in students....and possibly inspire problem solving, imagination, creativity, meaningful understanding, and an appreciation for the power of mathematics. In the text Figures, Facts, & Fables: Telling Tales in Science and Math, Barbara Lipke helps teachers bring storytelling to their classrooms. A former classroom teacher and professional storyteller, Lipke presents a rationale for using stories, and shares many of her own experiences in the classroom. The book is filled with specific advice on how to tell stories, how to teach storytelling to students, and how to apply storytelling to science and math. Also, in addition to an appendix of original and traditional stories that teachers can tell and or use as models, the text provides an extensive bibliography of resources for storytelling, stories, and subject matter.

Be forewarned that the text is directed at elementary and middle school teachers...but I found the suggestions and information generic enough that her story telling techniques could be extended/applied at the 6-14 grade levels. Some creativity will be needed as the stories perhaps get more complex at the higher grade levels.

Also, this is not a new book (copyright 1996 ?)...but it was new to me. It can be purchased from Amazon or directly from its publisher, Heinemann.