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Writing in Math Class Peg Brooks CGI Teacher Leader Sioux Falls, SD

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Marilyn Burns-Writing in Math Class Why writing in math class is important. Examples of writing assignments in math class Suggestions for how to add writing as a component of math instruction

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I. Why Writing is important Students explain and give examples of their understanding of concepts Students make connections to real-life applications of the math they are learning Requires students to organize, clarify, reflect on, explore, and extend their ideas

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II. Four examples of writing assignments in math class 1. Journal-chronological record of what is being covered in math 2. Aid to solving math problems by writing what they were thinking as they arrived at a solution 3. Write about specific math concepts before formal lessons 4. Creative Writing

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III. Suggestions for how to add writing as a component of math instruction Teach how to write about what you think. (metacognition)** Encourage students and give prompts that they can choose from. (on wiki)** Have students write solution strategies to share with the class. Check attitudes (Reflection)**

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1. Math Journals When writing in your math journal, use words, pictures, numbers and manipulatives. Through math journals, verbal knowledge, mathematical knowledge, personal experience, and visual ideas merge as you make mathematical ideas your own.

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Purpose of Journals Increases confidence Increases participation Encourages independence Decentralizes authority Replaces quizzes and tests as means of assessment Monitors progress Enhances communication between student and teacher Records growth

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2. Metacognition When writing, thoughts become clearer—you discover exactly what you are thinking. Encourage your students to use drawings and graphs to explain their thinking.’ Although we’re used to just being concerned about the results or the “answers”, if we pay more attention to how we think, it would help us to think more clearly, and improve the quality of our results. There are no wrong answers in writing about thinking. Use drawings or graphs to explain thinking

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Writing to Think “Writing in mathematics helps students think....allows students time to wonder and to process.” “Written explanations in mathematics are about what is being done and why it works. The type of thinking involved in justifying a strategy or explaining an answer is quite different from that needed to merely solve an equation. The process of writing about a mathematics problem will itself often lead to a solution.” Joan Kenney

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“When children have regular invitations to write and talk about mathematics in open- ended ways, they soon recognize they can discover new ideas in the process”

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Write about Mathematical ideas Explain in your own words what subtraction means. (familiar first) Explain what is most important to understand about fractions What do you know about angles? What does measurement mean to you?**

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3. Reflection What you did in class today. What did you learn? What are you unsure about, confused by, or wondering about? Describe what was easy and what was difficult for you when you were a math student? **

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Reflection starters Reflect on your participation in class today and complete the following statements: I learned that I….. I was surprised that I ……. I noticed that I…… I discovered that I…… I was pleased that I……

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4. Creative Writing Literature based example problems One day the Little Red Hen baked a cake for her 8 chicks. She sliced the cake into 8 pieces. Her chicks each got a piece. Draw what this looked like.

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Creative Writing Examples of story problems based on literature Kids can write these! One of Jack’s beanstalks was 17 feet tall. Another was 8 feet tall. Which beanstalk was taller. Tell how you know?

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Creative Writing The Greedy Triangle

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Book Titles Counting on Frank-Clement Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar–Anno Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School-Sachar G is for Googol-Schwartz One Grain of Rice-Demi The Grapes of Math-Tang Spaghetti and Meatballs for All-Burns A Remainder of One-Pinczes Marvelous Math –Hopkins Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday-Viorst How Much is a Million-Schwartz If You Made a Million-Schwartz The GreedyTriangle-Burns

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Assessment Provides teachers with alternative assessment opportunities to note students’ abilities in explaining and applying concepts When reading through written explanations, instructors can determine if further guidance or additional learning opportunities are needed. Teachers can monitor each student’s attitude toward learning mathematics

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“If a child cannot learn the way we teach maybe we should teach the way they learn.” Using writing is one way to help students make the connection between school and “real life”. Exploration and extension activities allow students to apply math skills in ways that are meaningful and rooted in every day experiences instead of relying on the teacher to provide problems and solutions. Students take ownership of their learning and are better able to find ways to use it outside of the classroom. (Brandenburg)

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Why not just talk it out? Writing shares many of the qualities of talking, but it has some unique characteristics of its own, such as creating a record of our thinking that we can analyze and reflect upon. (Math is Language Too Whitin and Whitin) While talking one does not usually have a chance to reflect and analyze- Writing may give students a safe place to think.

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Websites http://math.about.com/library/weekl y/aa123001a.htm (journaling) http://math.about.com/library/weekl y/aa123001a.htm http://www.literacyconnections.com/ Tang.php (poems and math) http://www.literacyconnections.com/ Tang.php http://www.mathwire.com/writing/wri ting1.html (writing in mathematics) http://www.mathwire.com/writing/wri ting1.html

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Bibliography Brandenburg, M.L. (2002). Advanced math? Write! Educational Leadership, 60 (3), 67-68. Burns, M. (1995). Writing in math class? Absolutely! Instructor, 104 (7), 40-47.

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