We joyfully advanced our storytelling unit today: making math stories!
To start, I shared some ways my sons use their collection of storytelling bits and bobs at our house. Our collection includes animal and people figurines, rocks, shells, fabric and felt, string, crystals, various counters, dice, and more.
Then we discussed ways to source and create new story props, using free and recycled materials.
Next, we discussed and modelled how even the simplest things can be transformed into magical objects of wonder—especially when presented in a compelling narrative by an engaging speaker.
We reviewed story structure and conventions, and then spoke about the pros and cons of creating stories within constraints.
Then I asked students to create mathematical stories with a clear beginning, middle and end and at least 3 math questions, preferably using different operations. Our story making constraints were for students to select from a limited supplies list, which included just chess pieces, paper, base ten blocks, and counters. The purpose of such constraint was to force more creativity within the limits to prove to students that stories depend more on imagination than fancy materials. (Another constraint we used was that stories must be “school appropriate”.)
How did it all go? Amazing! There was so much meaningful discussion, thoughtful planning and a demonstration of whimsy and humour. This may have been my favourite math session of all time.
Next Thursday, we continue math story making, taking it to new levels with increasing demands on the quality and complexity of math questions they work into their stories. Students are invited to bring in any small props of their choosing, so long as their props can all fit into their new wooden math stories boxes that I will provide for storage.
In addition to learning about storytelling traditions across cultures, our goals this term are for students to develop their story-making lexicon, increasingly apply literary devices, create their own “Story Banks” drawing upon of a variety of narratives types (such as a hero’s journey), and to practice storytelling frequently in order to increase their skills and build their confidence as speakers.