Writing in Math Class: Scaffolding Whole class and Guided Math Activities Part I

Posted on January 23, 2011. Filed under: Assessment, Elementary math, Guided math, Math is a Language | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Writing in math class is essential to building mathematical proficiency. It is a record of students’ mathematical thinking and experiences.  You want to encourage your students to use words, pictures, numbers, symbols, diagrams, and models to explain their thinking. Encourage them to think about the answer in their head and outloud, before they start writing.  Make sure that writing is a part of every day.  There are many ways to do this.

1.      Do an interactive write aloud with your students.  As the teacher you are facilitating the discussion and the students are writing a shared entry on a class journal about the math concepts that they covered that day.  The emphasis should be on the math that day.  Starters say things like,

a.     “The most important thing about ….is…”

b.    “The tricky part about …is”

c.     “When working with ….always remember to…”

d.    “We’re still a bit fuzzy about….”

e.     “We got this….but we don’t got this part yet….”

2.    Have the students begin to write their own journal entries a few times a week.  I always advise teachers to do a class math journal at least once a week.  I never have the students copy the class math journal into their own notebooks.

3.    Make sure that the students have their own space to write.  This could be a separate journal or a designated part in the overall math activity journal (like a part sectioned in the back).

4.    Informal prompts: This can be done through entrance and exit slips. At the beginning or end of a lesson, have the students check in about what they are learning.  I would frame the questions around the 5 Mathematical Proficiency Concepts. Choose 1 way.

5.    Formal prompts: This can be done on a Friday or a specific extended writing prompt day.  I would also frame the questions around the 5 Mathematical Proficiency Concepts.  Choose 1 way.

6.    Use the think-pair-share strategy to get students writing … http://mathwire.com/writing/writing1.html

7.     Click these links to sample rubrics http://www.exemplars.com/resources/rubrics/



Great Blog Post with tons of links about writing in math: http://letsplaymath.net/2008/10/06/writing-to-learn-math-ii/







Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki


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One Response to “Writing in Math Class: Scaffolding Whole class and Guided Math Activities Part I”

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Hi Dr. Nicki,
I haven’t read through all the websites in this post, but the Think-Pair-Share is a winner for me because the rationale and practical use of the strategy is explained so clearly for teachers. It will used in our classrooms as soon as our grade level meetings take place. These are teacher and student-reasy strategies.

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