The School Library: A Space for Critical Thinking about Data and Mathematical Questions

Kimmel, Sue C. 2012. “The School Library: A Space for Critical Thinking about Data and Mathematical Questions.” Library Media Connection 30 (4): 38–39.

The author, a professor at Old Dominion University (Virginia) argues that the school library can and should support mathematical inquiry, because school librarians have experience with integrating curriculum across disciplines and designing and implementing inquiry-based learning opportunities. She gives school librarians examples for how a librarian can bring math into the school library: rooting math questions and math discussions in literature, using manipulatives to help learn math concepts, and exploring reference materials to gain experience with reading graphs. She cites McKinney and Hinton (2010) who advocate for including literature in math instruction to give math more meaning, encourage math conversations, allow for investing math questions, and as a source of visual math representations. She points out that such lessons can support both the National Council for Teaching Mathematics Principles and Standards for School Mathematics as well as the AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner.

Infographics Part 1 & 2: Invitations to Inquiry

Lamb, Annette, and Larry Johnson. 2014. “Infographics Part 1: Invitations to Inquiry.” Teacher Librarian 41 (4): 54–58.

Lamb, Annette, and Larry Johnson. 2014. “Infographics Part 2: Practical Ideas for Your School Library.” Teacher Librarian 41 (5): 64–67.

Students are often working on visual displays or reports in a school library. One way to convey information graphically is to create an infographic, and a library can introduce this type of document to students. These two articles suggest practical ways librarians can have students interpret and create infographics.

Check Out the Math: One Elementary School’s Library-Based Math Program

Lambert, Nancy Jo. 2013. “Check Out the Math: One Elementary School’s Library-Based Math Program.” School Library Journal. September 12.

A school librarian created a new statistics word problem each month, posted it in the library, and invited students to participate. The word problems were all based on real library statistics: how many books were overdue, number of bookshelves needed. In many elementary schools, all classes visit the library every week or every other week. This is a great way to show students how math is connected with everyday life, participate and discuss problem-solving together.

Lesson Overview

Students are invited to participate in an optional activity in the library, where they respond to a statistics question that changes each month. The questions address solving real questions or problems in the school’s library. Students must write out their problem-solving technique. Students with the correct answer may receive a library-related benefit, like an extra check out.

Lesson Goals:

  • Students can apply different strategies to solve statistics word problems.

Lesson Plan Materials

  • Create statistics word problems using your library’s real statistics and problems, and consult with your teachers to have them provide you with feedback about the questions and possible solutions.

Common Core State Standards this Lesson Supports

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner

  • AASL 2.1.3 Use strategies to draw conclusions from information and apply knowledge to curricular areas, real-world situations, and further investigations.