Concepts for A Wrinkle in Time



The Mathematics Classroom


A Wrinkle in Time can be a useful source for a teacher to get students thinking about mathematical concepts without relying on the normal, and many times boring text book. Furthermore, this concept for using literature in the math classroom will inspire young students to get excited about, and look forward to, studying math as much as they look forward to reading adventures like A Wrinkle in Time. Specifically, this novel can be used to introduce late-elementary and early-junior high students to the concept of dimensionality. With a mathematical analysis of the book, students can get a general understanding of the progression of space from zero dimensions to four or five dimensions.

Lesson Plan

Method A - Students have read book collectively in reading class

If the students in your class have already read, or are reading the book in another class, then if would be helpful to integrate math into their study of the book either at the same time as they are reading in another class or soon after they have completed it. If it has been a long time since your students (i.e. several months), you might consider giving out photocopies of some "mathematical" sections of the book (Chapter 5, for instance). After the kids review the material, then you can get them to brainstorm about the meaning of the word dimension, and then use some of the sample worksheets and group activities outlined in this web page to get the students to use these concepts in a "hands-on" experience. You might want to cap off your discussion of the novel by having some literary discussion of what role math plays in the novel as a whole. If your students have all read the book before, this process could be done over one week. If your students are studying it in a literature or reading class, then you might want to coordinate a study of the math with the studentsí reading instructor.

Method B - Students have not collectively read the book

If your students have not read A Wrinkle in Time, then it would be best to incorporate a reading of this book into your curriculum for a six-weeks grading term. There are 12 chapters in the book, and consequently, you could finish do two chapters a week, and then spend one class period per week on the novel. Obviously, some chapters are filled with mathematical concepts, and some are almost void of them, but activities and worksheets could carry over from previous chapters. Furthermore, in weeks with a small amount of "math material," the plot and the characters could be used in word problems and other math problems that are not necessarily linked to the themes of the book. To continue the idea of interdisciplinary learning, you might consider having a science teacher as a guest speaker on the basics of space travel or the feasibility of time travel. There are too many options to dictate, but, ultimately, the use of this incredibly popular and enriching novel in your classroom will give your students a mathematical experience that they will never forget.