Friday, October 7, 2011

Writing in Math Class

Often students who have difficulty writing in math class have less difficulty telling the teacher what they think.   Capitalize on this oral strength by incorporating the think-pair-share strategy more often into math lessons as a prelude to writing.

Think-Pair-Share: Some students are reluctant to write at first and benefit from practice sharing thoughts with a partner and hearing that partner put thoughts into words.   Reluctant students get to "practice" in a small setting with a partner before speaking to the whole class.   These students can also choose to share their thoughts, their partner's thoughts, or a combination of the two.

The basic steps of Think-Pair-Share are:

  • Question:   Ask an open-ended question and tell students that they will think-pair-share the answer.
  • Think:   Give students 1-2 minutes to think quietly about their response to the question.   Walk around the room to reinforce this quiet, on-task response.
  • Pair:   Ask students to share thoughts with their partners and ask questions if they don't understand what their partner is saying.   Circulate around the room, listening to student conversations.
  • Share:   Ask for student volunteers to share as you begin this process. Later, you should call on non-volunteers to increase student accountability in this cooperative learning strategy.   Reinforce the expectation of active listening by requiring students to acknowledge the thoughts of classmates by saying:
    • I agree with [name's] answer...,
    • I don't agree with [name's] answer...,
    • I started the problem like [name] but then I...
  • NOTE: It is not necessary and, in fact, it is usually not time-effective to have each group share.   As you circulate around the room during the Pair share, identify students who have used different strategies or great models for thinking about an important concept.   Call on these students or their partners to share with the class.

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