Writing in Mathematics Classrooms
For many of us, writing was not a part of how we learned in a mathematics class. Recently, however, all content areas have become concerned with students’ ability to think and communicate, and writing is one of the major ways of promoting both of these. Here are some specific ways that math teachers use quick writes, journals, and word problems to help students think and communicate mathematically.
As previewing activities, math teachers ask students to
List as many kinds of different triangles as you can in thirty seconds.
Draw and label three shapes that have different names.
List ways you use decimals in real-life activities.
To synthesize what was learned at the end of a class, ask students to
Define in your own words what parallel lines are.
Write in words what this formula means.
Use the symbols =, <, and > to write three true sentences.
To help students self-assess understanding, attitudes, and so on, you could use these prompts:
What did you not understand about today’s lesson?
List one or more terms you cannot clearly define.
I have the feeling many of you are not “with me” on this topic. Write what you are feeling about what we are doing and if there is anything I could change to help you feel more involved and successful.
Journals call for more extended entries than quick writes and are most successful if used on a daily basis. Both high-structure and low-structure journals can be used in math class. Here are some examples of high-structure journal prompts math teachers use:
Draw and label pictures that will help you remember each of the shapes we have studied so far.
Write a paragraph using as many of the following words as possible. (List math terms you are studying.)
Analyze the mistakes made on your homework (or in-class work). What have you learned that will help you avoid making these same mistakes again?
Write an explanation of why we need to study _______, which would make sense to a younger friend who hasn’t yet taken this course.
© ______ 2007, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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