The Barton Series
The Barton Series comprises math stories merging numeracy with literacy in an attempt to inculcate values in students through encounters with real life experiences. The Little Barton books are specially designed for children in the early years.
The series of ‘Barton Books’, each with several ‘Barton’ stories assists the child in learning mathematics outside the constraints of rules, laws and formulae. Hence, the stories clearly highlight the practical nature of mathematics and further act as a stimulus to strengthen other areas of the school curriculum. The stories target social and ethical issues that will help to guide children into becoming caring, successful, productive and global citizens.
The Barton Series
Guide For Teachers
The book ‘Just like Barton’ was written with the intention of enriching the primary schoolcurriculum. Teachers can use the book in the following ways:
Motivate Students To Read
Develop skills in vocabulary, word study, phonics, and spelling.
Teach comprehension skills in mathematics and language arts.
Present mathematics using authentic situations.
Integration of subjects with mathematics.
Provide stimulus material for teaching values.
Recall of mathematical facts;
Recall of events in the story;
Extract specific details in the story that are critical to the solution of the problem;
Extract specific details in the story that relate to the character of any of the persons or shapes;
Explain the strategies used to solve the problems;
Explain the events in a given sequence;
Making predictions on the solutions and comparing these with peers and verifying solutions;
Making and comparing predictions and making inferences as to what will happen in the next story;
Checking for reasonableness of answers;
Discussing the consequences of certain actions;
Writing explanations or statements to represent mathematical ideas presented; and
Writing explanations of events using different genres; and
Drawing schematic diagrams to represent information when solving problems.
Drawing characters to show their dispositions in the story.
About The Barton Series
Dr. Fayad W. Ali,
Author of The Barton Series
The Barton Series was conceptualised and written with the primary objective of encouraging young students to appreciate Mathematics in the real world. In conjunction, it shall add much to improving their reading and comprehension skills. It is a novel vehicle to concatenate prowess in both numeracy and literacy. Indirectly, it shall inculcate both moral and ethical values into these young minds. These are done via the creation of a model child, Barton.
The books explore mathematics through Barton’s life experiences with wonderful stories.These real-life stories span just about all the activities in which young children participate in school and with their families in their juvenile, carefree and adventurous years.
My experience in teaching mathematics has channelled me to strongly conclude, that a major and poignant barrier to the learning, understanding and appreciation of mathematics, remains the inability of students to comprehend the language in the worded problem. Literacy, most assuredly, is really the key to decoding the mathematics. And, any attempt in improving literacy, will most certainly result in an overall improvement in performances in this essential discipline.
This uniquely novel approach shall both lovingly embrace and encourage critical thinking and problem solving. It shall bring a real life to Mathematics. It will improve the child’s writing and grammar skills and also shall serve to encourage good behaviour and caring ways in our young children. Thus mathematics becomes user friendly, and the methodology shall eliminate the inherited and acquired fear for the subject.
While many of the stories build on mathematics content, others focus on the process goals of mathematics. We must choose to remember at all times, that the learning of mathematicsis not just about learning content. The process goals focus on developing certain dispositions and thinking skills. Dispositions such as respect, perseverance, team spirit and thinking processes are addressed. Thinking skills such as analysis and critical thinking are meticulously hand-woven into the fabrics of the stories, through young Barton’s character. In the often elusive effort to make mathematics accessible, we need to deal with the emotions, and many of the stories are strong in their appeal to the many emotions that we experience throughout our daily lives.
One critical area that needs to be addressed in learning mathematics is how to engage learners in applying the mathematics that they have learned, both in new and in varied situations.
It is common, mundane and sometimes inane for students to envision and experience mathematics as being disjoint from their daily activities. This sadly, occurs when the knowledge that was acquired, had been through surface or shallow learning. This type of learning merely involves the reproduction of facts and procedures. Unfortunately, research has shown that the outcomes of such learning are largely fragmented. The transferring of such learning into new circumstances will hardly be recognised, and misconceptions will remain unrealised and unattended.
Alternatively, a deep approach that is supported by constructivists encourages students to seek new meaning in what they are learning, and intentionally relate it to their existing knowledge. Such an approach corrects misconceptions and allows for adaptation to new circumstances. This type of learning positively changes the individual as a person.
If, that which a person has learnt, leaves them exactly the same as before, unaltered, unblemished and with only parallel translations, then such learning has been purely superficial. Sooner, more often than later, this acquired knowledge will be rejected,forgotten and most likely be ignored.
One of the greatest challenges faced by curriculum designers is the crafting of the curriculum, so that it transforms the child into an individual who will eventually make a positive and meaningful contribution to the society. Curriculum designers always begin their task with the fabrication of the ‘ideal child’. Then, they create learning experiences to match these ideal outcomes. But inevitably, somewhere between the coordinates of the goals, objectives and learning outcomes that are anticipated, the ‘ideal child’ gets lost in the maze.
This is primarily due to the failure of educators to set priorities. Such priorities should not be to produce individuals who can merely regurgitate facts and be successful in examinations, which tests superficial learning. More so, they should be to add to apopulation, individuals who are highly fulfilled, morally, intellectually and ethically, and who take pride in that which they do.
In my stories, when Barton learns to bake a cake, he envisions himself as an accomplished, master baker. When he entertains the class with his riddles and number magic, he imagines himself to be an actor or a great magician, capturing and captivating his audience. At times he assists other students, like himself, with their mathematics. Here, he assumes the role of a great teacher. And, when the young boy writes poems, he dreams of becoming an accomplished poet laureate. For, the vision of a child is not fenced off, as it is in the reality of the adult. It ranges to infinity.
Our books purport the message that our humble origin or the eventual role which we attain in life, is inconsequential, as long as we had a dream and we successfully realised that dream. And, in so doing, we would contribute meaningfully to family, friends and to our society and by extension, to our World.
The Barton Series provides the only tangible solution to the problem that all the countries of our World face, in shaping the curriculum so as to transform the child into that ideal person.
It is insufficient for curriculum planners to merely expect teachers to integrate, or develop thematic units on their own, without providing models for doing so. This powerful toolkit is an alternative that is unique and will provide the answer that has eluded the mathematics educators, throughout the decades.
In our research on struggling learners versus successful learners, we have noted that a major difference is the presence of a role model. Unfortunately, though our society produces numerous ‘heroes’, few are really considered as role models. Our children become cocooned in gravitating to the mimicking of grossly undesirable behaviours. Barton, a model student, son, sibling, neighbour and friend, brings great hope to our struggling learner, especially to the boys of that age, who globally form the major part of our ‘at risk’ learners.
Let us allow our young and literate mathematicians to study mathematics, one of humanity’s greatest cultural achievements.
Our children must do so not only because it is useful, but they must do so because they delight in it, and, they must delight in it, because it is beautiful.
A POSSE AD ESSE…..FROM POSSIBILITY TO ACTUALITY.