Writing in the Mathematics Curriculum

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, June 2006 | Go to article overview

Writing in the Mathematics Curriculum


Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Quality written communication is necessary in school and in society. Writing needs to be emphasized across the curriculum. Mathematics can make its many contributions in improving written work. Diagnosis of problems, here, need to be detected with stress being placed upon students achieving desired objectives in writing. Transfer values from one academic area to the next must be in evidence. The mathematics teacher needs to model, provide appropriate student practice in contextual situations, motivate, and encourage good writing habits among pupils. Pupils learn to write as well as write to learn in mathematics.

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Students do need to become proficient writers. Writing should be emphasized across the curriculum. Mathematics, as one curriculum area, can and does make a plethora of contributions toward writing proficiency. The teachers need to observe the kinds of errors students make in written work. These may be recorded on a check sheet so that the teacher knows which goals need to be stressed in ongoing mathematics lessons.

Lessons should not stress drill in written work, but rather contextually, as needed, students should be assisted to write well. To start out with suggestions for writing in mathematics, students need to form each numeral legibly. If a numeral is written in reverse form by a young learner, for example, then assistance must be given to write each correctly. Having students write how many are pictured on a series of cards, such as in each set of cats pupils may do this. When diagnosing student daily work, the teacher needs to assist where reversals are made or a lack of clarity is involved. Help given needs to be specific be it in students not knowing the basic facts or not understanding borrowing/carrying in performing a mathematical operation.

Criteria to Use In Mathematics Writing

Learning needs to be meaningful. The student then needs to make sense out of what is being learned. He/she needs to think of when they personally, for example, counted something real, such as a set of coins, a place setting for visitors at a dinner table, pet fish in a bowl, and newborn kittens. Journal writing is important here, in that a student may record what was learned and what is left to learn. Needed assistance in writing might be provided by the teacher or peer. Journal writing assists students to reflect upon what was learned. It may provide necessary insight in what was not understood so that the student is increasingly successful in future learnings. Thinking about mathematical experiences helps students to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what has transpired in order to grow in mathematics achievement.

Interest is a powerful factor in learning. The mathematics teacher needs to provide for the interests of learners. Student choice in activities may well promote interest in learning. An enrichment center in the classroom can provide those choices. Each task at the interest center needs to stimulate students in mathematics achievement. A hands-on approach should also be stressed at the interest center. For example, students may measure, weigh, and find the volume of different containers and record their findings. Thus, students may ascertain how many pints in a quart by actually using these containers to find out. Hands on experiences meet the personal styles of many students to achieve well in mathematics. Thus, concrete experiences may become a part, as well as within numerous other learning activities for all in the classroom. Concrete activities assist in making [earnings meaningful for students.

Students should perceive purpose in written experiences in mathematics. Writing then should not be done for the sake of doing so, but rather to achieve a definite goal. Thus to increase experiences in doing and understanding word problems, students may be challenged to write these kinds of story problems which might well challenge other learners to complete. …

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