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Learning Our Way to One Million

Using a Journal Article as a Professional Development Experience

    FoY 2009-2010 Connections 


Title:              Learning Our Way to One Million 

Author:          David J. Whitin

Journal:         Teaching Children Mathematics 

Issue:            April 2008, Volume 14, Issue 8, pp. 448-453


Rationale/Purpose for Use    

This article describes how to use children’s literature to help students make connections between mathematical concepts and real-world contexts. This investigation models how to provide opportunities for students to solve problems that emerge from a literature selection. It also demonstrates how to use a rich mathematical experience to make connections to other mathematical ideas. 


  • A copy of How Much is a Million by David Schwartz
  • A copy of the article for each participant
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Procedures/Questions 

    1. Read aloud the book: How Much is a Million?  
    2. Determine the mathematical concept that is addressed in the book.  Generate a group list of the examples of how the author connected this concept to the real world.
    3. Using private think time, establish which example resonated best with you and why.  Pair and share.
    4. When you think of the magnitude of a million, what real world context do you connect it to? (Think about a personal experience) Are there other connections that come to mind? Share.
    5. Read the article.  How did reading the book, How Much Is a Million?, make the concept of a million accessible to children? How did the students’ investigation afford them the opportunity to build on their conceptual understanding of a million and further develop their mathematical skills? What role did the teacher play in supporting the children in their investigation?
    6. Conclusion. Have participants find another children’s literature selection they might use in their mathematics classroom.
      • Create a list of core mathematical ideas related to the literature selection.
      • Develop a plan to use the book in their mathematics classroom making sure to allow students opportunities to pose and to solve their own problems.
      • Ask teachers to use the lesson based on their children’s literature selection.
    1. Bring the group back or provide an alternative means of sharing.
      • Ask participants to share their experiences including samples of student work and lesson plans.

     Connections to Other NCTM Publications 


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