Making Math Meaningful through Reading and Writing

Math class? You bet.
[Wikimedia commons]

Overview

Reading and writing with math enables students to process real-world applications of math. Similar to mathematics, reading involves two parts of a thinking process: the transfer of information to the reader and the comprehension of that information on the part of the reader. Writing engages both hemispheres of the brain, as the learner generates ideas and organizes them. Writing allows students to clarify their thoughts and allows teachers insight into students’ thinking, making it valuable in the math classroom.

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Getting Started

Consider the learning goals for your students, then choose the type of reading and/or writing activity that meets the goals. For improved comprehension, you might have students write about a math concept you’ve introduced to them, asking them to write an explanation of the concept to a friend. For helping students understand real-world applications of math, you might ask students to read current news articles involving math and share a summary with a classmate.

Implementing reading and writing encourages students who enjoy reading and writing more than the computational process of math and increases deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

Educational Connections

Ways to use reading and writing in math class:

Writing prompts:

  • Thoughts, concerns, feelings regarding math class
  • Journaling
  • Math autobiography
  • Letter to the teacher
  • Freewriting
  • Math concept or process
  • Effort in class, goals, study habits

Use current articles demonstrating mathematics embedded in real life:

  • Provide students with articles, have them create magazine of excerpts from articles
  • Ask students to find articles on their own including real-world math; students can choose the topic based on their interests
  • Students read the article, summarize it, and compile it into an online magazine

Assessment can be completed via a writing rubric that includes effective communication and content understanding

Resources

Example: Student-produced Math Magazine Publication: https://backend.edutopia.org/sites/default/files/2018-10/Mathematics%20Applications_0.pdf

Reading and Writing in the Mathematics Classroom: http://math.coe.uga.edu/tme/issues/v08n1/3freitag.pdf

Reading and Writing in Math Class: https://www.edutopia.org/article/reading-and-writing-math-class

Benefits in Explaining One’s Math Thinking


"It’s hard to get kids in the habit of talking about how they are thinking about a problem when they’ve had many years of instruction that focused on getting the 'right answer.' That’s why educators are now trying to get students in the habit of explaining their thinking at a young age." — Source: Mind/Shift

Continue reading the full post for examples, tips, and classroom video footage.

Image Source: EdTechTeacher

It Needs to Be Part of Every Lesson

Using Thinking Routines Purposefully and Powerfully


“For centuries teaching has been about talking, and students have been expected to listen. He asked, what if we flip this? If teaching becomes listening and learning becomes talking? How can we be sure that the thinking routines that we are using in the classroom are purposeful?” — Maggie Hos-McGrane

Read the rest of Maggie’s notes from Mark Church’s workshop.

53 Strategies for Checking for Understanding

This quick-reference list of assessment strategies will help you identify a variety of ways to check students’ thinking and learning.

Click on the screenshot below to download this resource from Edutopia.

53 Strategies for Checking for Understanding

 

Making Thinking Visible: An Introducton

Visible Thinking

Harvard’s Project Zero: Part 3

Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based approach to integrating the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject matters. An extensive and adaptable collection of practices, Visible Thinking has a double goal: on the one hand, to cultivate students’ thinking skills and dispositions, and, on the other, to deepen content learning. By thinking dispositions, we mean curiosity, concern for truth and understanding, a creative mindset, not just being skilled but also alert to thinking and learning opportunities and eager to take them” (Source).

“Visible Thinking is a broad and flexible framework for enriching classroom learning in the content areas and fostering students’ intellectual development at the same time. Here are some of its key goals:

  • Deeper understanding of content
  • Greater motivation for learning
  • Development of learners’ thinking and learning abilities.
  • Development of learners’ attitudes toward thinking and learning and their alertness to opportunities for thinking and learning (the “dispositional” side of thinking).
  • A shift in classroom culture toward a community of enthusiastically engaged thinkers and learners” (Source).

“The idea of visible thinking helps to make concrete what a thoughtful classroom might look like. At any moment, we can ask, “Is thinking visible here? Are students explaining things to one another? Are students offering creative ideas? Are they, and I as their teacher, using the language of thinking? Is there a brainstorm about alternative interpretations on the wall? Are students debating a plan?”

When the answers to questions like these are consistently yes, students are more likely to show interest and commitment as learning unfolds in the classroom. They find more meaning in the subject matters and more meaningful connections between school and everyday life. They begin to display the sorts of attitudes toward thinking and learning we would most like to see in young learners — not closed-minded but open-minded, not bored but curious, neither gullible nor sweepingly negative but appropriately skeptical, not satisfied with “just the facts” but wanting to understand” (Source).

A proven program for enhancing
students’ thinking and comprehension abilities

“At the core of Visible Thinking are practices that help make thinking visible: Thinking Routines loosely guide learners’ thought processes and encourage active processing. They are short, easy-to-learn mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life” (Source).

About the Research

“Visible Thinking is the product of a number of years of research concerning children’s thinking and learning, along with a sustained research and development process in classrooms.

“One important finding was that skills and abilities are not enough. They are important of course, but alertness to situations that call for thinking and positive attitudes toward thinking and learning are tremendously important as well. Often, we found, children (and adults) think in shallow ways not for lack of ability to think more deeply but because they simply do not notice the opportunity or do not care. To put it all together, we say that really good thinking involves abilities, attitudes, and alertness, all three at once. Technically this is called a dispositional view of thinking. Visible Thinking is designed to foster all three.

“Another important result of this research concerns the practical functionality of the Visible Thinking approach — the thinking routines, the thinking ideals, and other elements. All these were developed in classroom contexts and have been revised and revised again to ensure workability, accessibility, rich thinking results from the activities, and teacher and student engagement” (Source).

Thinking Routines

Visible Thinking makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich.

Technology Integration

Visit this overview of Making Thinking Visible with Technology by Clif Mims, then enjoy the many exemplary lesson plans and wonderful resources at MTVT.org (See screenshot below).

Making Thinking Visible with Technology (MTVT.org)

* Much of this content courtesy of Project Zero at Harvard University.

 

Nutshell: Prezi’s New App for Visual Storytelling

NutshellPrezi introduces a new way to share life’s little moments, in a nutshell.

Combining the simplicity of photographs, the compelling nature of video, and the fun of animated graphics, Nutshell uses Prezi’s new storymapping technology to create short, shareable cinematic narratives that can be shared easily and instantly.

Besides creating fun social media updates, Nutshell opens the door for all sorts of unique messaging opportunities when videos feel like too much of a production and plain photos just are not adequate for capturing life’s moments.

3 Easy Steps

  1. Snap three pictures.
  2. Add captions.
  3. Choose graphics and let Nutshell turn it all into a shareable cinematic story.

Features

  • Library of free animated graphics that you can use to create short cinematic stories
  • Instant sharing to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
  • Send nutshells directly to friends via email, text messages, and WhatsApp
  • Full camera support for iOS 8.0 and above
  • Much more

Educational Connections

  • Provides students with a creative alternative for submitting reflections, journals, etc.
  • Share engaging news and announcements with students and parents.
  • Integrate with standards focused on communication: personal expression, propaganda techniques, etc.
  • Enables creative ways for students to share their interpretations of poems, stories, books, plays, and other works of art.
  • Empower students to collect evidence of their thinking during a lab or group activity.
  • The finished product can serve as an artifact of learning, potentially making thinking visible in your classroom.

There are many other educational connections. Please share yours in the comments to this post.

Making Thinking Visible with Technology #pzmewinter15

I’m looking forward to speaking at today’s Project Zero Memphis Winter Workshop. Here are some of the resources that I’ll be sharing.

Visible Thinking includes methods for making students’ thinking visible through learning routines that are thinking rich. These routines encourage the development of a culture of thinking and can be used across all grade levels and content areas. With freely available technologies students can engage in Thinking Routines to provide evidence of their thinking and demonstrate their understanding of course content in multiple ways (images, audio, video, presentations, artwork, and more). The Making Thinking Visible with Technology (MTVT) project seeks to provide professional development, a database of lesson plans, and resources to help teachers to develop opportunities for students to make their thinking visible with technology.

Making Thinking Visible with Technology

Additional Resources

If you would like to investigate this further you can visit the full set of additional resources on my professional development wiki.