Fascinating approach to writing about a subject I hate to think about, much less be meta-cognitive about–Mathematics.

    • Using Writing In Mathematics

    • This strand provides a developmental model for incorporating writing into a math class. The strand includes specific suggestions for managing journals, developing prompts for writing, and providing students with feedback on their writing. In addition, the site includes two sample lessons for introducing students to important ideas related to writing about their mathematical thinking.

      • Writing about thinking is challenging. For this reason, it’s best not to start out having students write about unfamiliar mathematical ideas. First get them used to writing in a math class:

        • Begin with affective, open-ended questions about students’ feelings.

        Sample Direction #1: 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…

        Sample Direction #2: Describe how you feel about solving _________ problem.

    • Have students write a “mathography”-a paragraph or so in which they describe their feelings about and experiences in math, both in and out of school. (This is a good tool to get to know students early in the year, and to make comparisons later when looking for signs of progress.

    • Find ways to keep students writing for the allotted time:

    • Getting Students to Write about Familiar Mathematical Ideas

    • Once your students have become accustomed to writing about their attitudes and feelings toward mathematics in their journals, they are ready to write about simple, familiar math concepts. It is important not to make the writing too difficult by asking them to write about unfamiliar math ideas. Using writing to review familiar math ideas will increase confidence and skill in writing as well as revisit important math concepts.

      Sample Directions:

      Explain in your own words what subtraction means.
      Explain what is most important to understand about fractions.

    • Use student writing samples to help them refine their writing.

    • Introduce the term metacognition to help students understand the reason and audience for their writing.

      • When you feel your students are ready, ask them to write about more complex mathematical ideas, including concepts being taught at their current grade level. To help you move your students into this more advanced level of writing about their thinking. Here are some other suggestions to help you:

        1. Encourage your students to use drawings and graphs to explain their thinking.

        • Research shows that using simple visual aids (diagrams, graphs, etc.) improves mathematical problem-solving ability, especially in female students.

        2. As student writing progresses, ask students to write about their small group work.

        • Ask the group to write a summary of how they reached a solution, including any “false starts” or “dead ends.”
        • Ask each individual to write an explanation of the group’s work on a problem. Have the small groups discuss the individual explanations.
        • After a small group assignment, have students “explain and illustrate two different approaches to solving a problem.”

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