Date of Award
Action Research Project
Master of Arts in Education
Elementary Education, Montessori Elementary Education
It is a typical Monday morning. As students enter the classroom wearing brightly colored polo shirts embroidered with the school logo, their smiles are equally bright. This Title I public school in the heart of the city where 96% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch has recently opened a Montessori option. Walking into the classroom, one 5th grade student eagerly asks, “Who’s on the bread committee this week?” Baking bread is a weekly occurrence in the upper elementary (4th – 6th grade) Montessori classroom. During the first week of school, this same student vehemently threw materials to the floor declaring, “I HATE fractions!” In an effort to positively engage students in mathematics, the weekly bread-making tradition was implemented.
Through cooking, students experience the importance of fractions in everyday life. Each week, two students work together, read several recipes, select one, and submit a precise written list of needed ingredients. The next day, with the aid of a bread machine bought for $10 at the local thrift store, the students work together to follow directions, read fractions, measure ingredients, and bake bread. Once baked, students divide the bread into equal portions and serve. After several months of this routine, some recipes will need to be doubled or halved, and on it goes…
The bread committee provides a “hook” for some resistant students. It is also a practical application of the role of literacy in mathematics. The choice to focus on mathematical literacy and the effect of journaling on student understanding was influenced by research around mathematical vocabulary as well as the instructional practices of noted educators and researchers. The rigor of upper elementary math as defined in the common core requires students to not only perform calculations with accuracy, but to demonstrate strong reading comprehension through the interpretation of real-world word problems, and to articulate an understanding of MATHEMATICAL LITERACY 3 mathematical reasoning through clear and concise writing. Achieving grade level proficiency has practical life implications for students because research showed mathematical knowledge during elementary school as a strong predictor of financial stability in adulthood, and understanding fractions in fifth grade as a predictor of overall achievement in mathematics (Siegler & Lortie-Forgues, 2015).
Bechler, Eileen. (2019). Mathematical Literacy: The Effects of Mathematics Journals on Student Understanding of Fractions in a Montessori Classroom. Retrieved from Sophia, the St. Catherine University repository website: https://sophia.stkate.edu/maed/293