Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Passion for children’s literature inspires teaching book

At the College of Education, Lynn Columba teaches graduate students how to integrate technology into their pedagogy and encourages them to create a hands-on environment that allows their young students to think critically and to solve problems on their own.

Along with two colleagues, Columba has written a book that will help her students—as well as thousands of other teachers—teach the often challenging concepts of math and science to pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students, using selected children’s literature picture books.

Columba, associate professor of technology-based teacher education, describes the process as the most stimulating, exhausting, and rewarding experience in the past 10 years of her professional career … next to teaching.

The 50 lessons in Columba’s book, The Power of Picture Books in Teaching and Science, Grades PreK-8, are each based on a different picture book or story, and are designed to help classroom teachers build a foundation for teaching math and science concepts to their students. The Power of Picture Books “invites” children to learn abstract concepts while they respond to a story’s illustrations, theme, characters, and plot.

“As educators of teachers, we share our perspectives about the science of teaching and learning in this book.” Columba says of her co-authors, Cathy Y. Kim, an instructor at Muhlenberg College, and Alden Moe, former Lehigh professor and dean of the College of Education who now teaches at Rollins College in Florida.

“We all share a love of stories and a passion for children's literature, which gave birth to this book. We use children's literature in our teaching in PreK-8 classrooms and in undergraduate and graduate teacher education courses. This book is a compilation of many of those experiences,” Columba says.

Helping teachers meet national standards

The lessons emphasize the constructivist approach, which places the learner at the heart of the learning experience. Learners are encouraged to make connections to their prior knowledge, to speculate and solve problems, to formulate hypotheses and collect data to confirm them.

The authors say they use books to help relate human experiences to math and science concepts, with the idea that this integration will help to motivate all learners. The lessons in the book also demonstrate how using children’s literature can help teachers meet national standards in math and science.

Lessons in the book include math activities that present math concepts in the context of real-life situations, allowing students to draw upon and make connections to their knowledge of the world. The activities encourage students to think critically and to solve problems. Science activities encourage children to participate in genuine inquiries, make hypotheses and predictions, and document their observations.

The activities also include language arts components and provide opportunities for vocabulary development and the study of story structure, character, setting, and plot. All of the activities encourage teachers in their math and science lessons to create a problem-solving environment, use models and hands-on materials, promote class interaction and discussion, and use cooperative learning groups.

--Joanne C. Anderson

Posted on Monday, May 02, 2005

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