Writing in the math class

Writing in the math class

Writing in the math class

The big idea of my project is writing in the math class, and how it can help assist students in making sense of mathematics. Currently, math is looked upon as a set of rules and procedures to memorize and then be tested. I want teachers and students to grasp the understanding that math is more than getting the right answer. WIth major shifts in math with Common Core and TRU Mathematics, they both call on students to do what is not normally taught in math classes: make conjectures, explain their mathematical ideas, justify, make critiques on their peers work, make sense of the math that they are doing, and build on one another’s ideas. “We need to create situations where students can be active, creative, and responsive to the physical world. I believe that to learn mathematics, students must construct it for themselves.”

(Countryman pg. 2)

Writing in math class can support instruction because:

- Writing helps students become aware of what they know and do not know, can and cannot do
- When students write they connect their prior knowledge with what they are studying
- They summarize their knowledge and give teachers insights into their understanding
- They raise questions about new ideas
- They reflect on what they know
- They construct mathematics for themselves

As educators across all disciplines we want our students to construct convincing arguments, understand complex systems, develop new approaches/strategies to problems, work collaboratively in groups to discuss the problems, and to pose questions and evaluate alternative responses to those questions. To reach those goals students will need specific skills that are embedded in writing. Throughout the year the middle school math teacher will incorporate the following writing activities to implement writing into the math class:

- Have students to keep journals and learning logs- this will assist students in keeping records of what they are doing and learning in class. Prompts for journlas will be given daily at the beginning of the school year. To get students accustomed to writing I will provide sentence stem such as: Today I..., I learned..., I'm not sure about..., I'm wondering about...
- Problem solving strategies- students will be given problems where they will be asked to solve and explain their reasoning. Students will complete this once a week. I will pose a question and the students must answer it and explain why their answer is logical.
- Explaining mathematical ideas- students will have the opportunity, before each unit, to write all they know or learned about a specific idea in math such as division, inverse operation, percents, etc. This type of writing will be done when different topics of math is introduced.
- Creative writing- Students can write stories or poems relating to what they are currently studying in math. This type of writing will be given monthly.

Helping students become comfortable with writing in math class takes time and effort. However, with models and practice they will get better and improve. Teachers must start by slowly pushing writing in the class. For example, at the beginning or end of class ask the students to write about what they did in class or discuss what went wrong on a problem worked on in class. Another way is to ask students to freewrite for a set time. Or have them to comment on the assignment or homework. At the beginning of the school year the teachers and myself will formulate a list of ways to develop writing in the classroom. Throughout the year we will brainstorm effective ways to evaluate and assess the writing that is completed by the students.

In summary, my ImagineIT project is designed to help students learn and understand mathematics through opportunities that helps them organize, interpret, explain, construct, symbolize, communicate, plan, infer, and reflect.