Sunday, August 8, 2010

Writing in Math Class

Teachers incorporate writing in math class to help students reflect on their learning, deepen their understanding of important concepts by explaining and providing examples of those concepts, and make important connections to real-life applications of the math they are learning. Teachers use the writing assignments to assess student understanding of important concepts, student proficiency in explaining and using those concepts and each student's attitude toward learning mathematics.

Writing in mathematics is a win-win for both teacher and student. Although it may be difficult to introduce this practice, it is well worth the effort. Look for simple ways to incorporate short writings throughout daily lessons and longer writings over the course of weeks or math units.

  • Use whiteboards often throughout a lesson.  Ask students to define a term in their own words, explain why an answer is correct/incorrect, show their thinking using words, pictures, numbers, etc.  For some students, the "forgiveness" of an erasable whiteboard encourages them to write more.  For others, the color and novelty motivate active participation.
  • Plan regular Think-Write-Pair-Share opportunities:  plan to stop instruction to include these student-controlled learning opportunities in which students are asked to think (nonverbally respond to a question or prompt), write their response, pair share their responses, then share responses with the class.  This strategy is particularly effective for shy or struggling students as they have time to practice their response on a peer, hear their partner's response, and finally combine responses to share with the class.  This practice also helps students make the connection between oral and written responses. Teachers may elect to chart responses in bullet format to post for student review.

Read more about strategies for including Writing in Mathematics Class with links to additional internet resources.

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