Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction

Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction

Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction

Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction

Synopsis

What makes mathematics so confusing to students? To succeed in the study of arithmetic, geometry, or algebra, students must learn what is effectively a second language of mathematical terms and symbols. In Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction, Joan M. Kenney and her coauthors describe common ways in which students misinterpret the language of mathematics, and show teachers what they can do to ensure that their students become fluent in that language. The authors synthesize the research on what it takes to decode mathematical text, explain how teachers can use guided discourse and graphic representation to help students develop mathematical literacy skills, offer guidance on using action research to enhance mathematics instruction, and discuss the importance of student-centered learning and concept-building skills in the classroom. Real-life vignettes of student struggles illuminate the profound effect of literacy problems on student achievement in mathematics. This book will help teachers better understand their students? difficulties with mathematics and take the steps necessary to alleviate them. Abundantly researched and filled with helpful strategies and resources, it is an invaluable resource for mathematics teachers at all levels. Joan M. Kenney has been both a research scientist and a mathematics teacher at the secondary and college levels. Most recently, she served as codirector of the Balanced Assessment Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Excerpt

School days, school days,
Dear old Golden Rule days.
Reading and 'Riting and 'Rithmetic,
Taught to the tune of a hick-ry stick …

At the time this song was popular, the mark of an educated person was basic facility in each of the disciplines of reading, writing, and mathematics. These were viewed as discrete topics and taught in relative isolation of each other, although effective writing was seen as a somewhat logical result of skill in reading. The notion that mathematics textbooks were to be read for content, or that mathematics problems were to be solved by producing anything other than a numerical answer, was totally foreign. Indeed, reading and writing in mathematics did not become a subject of serious discussion and research until the appearance of the standards-based mathematics curricula of the 1990s, driven by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards of 1991. Suddenly a clearer distinction between arithmetic and mathematics was put forward. The ability to master and demonstrate mathematical knowledge came to be seen as the result of a process that involves teaching for understanding, student-centered learning, concept-building rather than memorization of facts, and the ability to communicate mathematical understanding to others.

This book blends current research on selected aspects of language literacy with practitioner evidence of the unique challenges presented in transferring these language skills to the mathematics classroom. It is distinctive in that it . . .

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