I am NOT a “math person.” Never have been, never will be. But sometimes we “reading people” must learn something new, and share that learning with others. Here is a wonderful example of a math learning opportunity: Solution Squad by Jim McClain. Mr. McClain is a teacher (which makes this book even more important to me) who strives to give his students the most engaging learning possible AND uses his strengths (he’s a comic book maker and connoisseur) to make that happen in his classroom.
When you open the colorful Solution Squad for the first time, you find an introduction written by McClain that explains how he got started with writing books. After the Table of Contents, there are a few pages of “How to Read Comics,” by Tracy Edmunds. This is helpful for people like me, who don’t read comics or graphic novels on a regular basis. Solution Squad continues with “Primer,” the first story, that introduces characters, math vocabulary, and (here’s where it gets interesting) the first problem for the Squad. “Looks like a code,” the character, Ordinate, states. The story continues and the characters use a primitive device (I learned about in my math classes) to solve the problem (You want me to give away the solution? I won’t do it!).
There are a few stories in Solution Squad, all based on math standards and McClain’s artistic way of drawing students into the learning using comics. Nathan Hale, author of the Hazardous Tales series, praised the work in the testimonials: “I wish I’d had Solution Squad when I was trying to learn math…” My personal favorite story was “The Trouble With Trains.” Remember the “train” problems from word problems in math class? Yep, I do. Now I understand not only the problem and solution ideas, but the humor that leads adults to groan at “train problem” jokes.
Jim McClain adds background information for his characters through the newest member of the squad, Radical, reading the book. What a cool way to spread the book love — from characters to real-life students. Reading is important. Reading is crucial for learning. Reading brings math to life!
One last thing — a bonus for teachers — Solution Squad has lesson plan ideas and a guide for the solutions from the stories in the book. Written for teachers, by a teacher. That’s a winning solution for math class!
Jim McClain brings STEM learning to life for students, adults, and comic book fans. Learn more about Solution Squad from the website, http://www.solutionsquad.net.
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