Making Math Meaningful through Reading and Writing

Math class? You bet.
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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.


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


Example: Student-produced Math Magazine Publication:

Reading and Writing in the Mathematics Classroom:

Reading and Writing in Math Class: