The King's Chessboard, One Grain of Rice, and Paired Books
In Grade 5, Unit 7, Bridges students explore and discuss doubling patterns after reading the book, The King's Chessboard. The Paired Books Strategy would be a natural extension to this lesson. In New Visions for Linking Literature and Mathematics [National Council of Teachers of English, 2004], David and Phyllis Whitin suggest using book pairs to explore mathematics (p.93). They quote from the book Creating Classrooms for Authors and Inquirers [Heinemann, 1996]:
"When readers read two or more texts that are related in some way, they are encouraged to share and extend their understandings of each text differently than if only one text had been read and discussed" (p.537).
The book, One Grain of Rice, relates a folktale similar to The King's Chessboard. In One Grain of Rice, a village girl is rewarded by the raja for her honesty, and agrees to accept one grain of rice, doubled each day for thirty days. Although a simple book reading and comparison/contrast discussion is worthwhile, the lesson could be further extended by asking students to create a tri-flap book. A sample template can be located under "Flip Flap with 3 Flaps." Students record a book title on the right and left flap, recording characteristics unique to each book under the respective flap. The middle flap is titled "Both" and information true for both books is written under the center section.
As with any literature set, comparisons could be made between characters, setting, and plot. Mathematically, students may notice that the rice is measured differently in the two books. They might also consider which character receives the most rice, the village girl who received rice for a month, or the wiseman who was to receive rice for each square of the chessboard but agreed to stop when the chessboard was only half filled.
For a simpler story about doubling, consider reading Two of Everything.
Do you use the Paired Books strategy with your math class? Share your experiences with blog readers!