Monday, April 14, 2014

Writing in Math Class

Writing has been a big topic on our campus this year ... a school initiative.  Our math coach has stressed improving upon our short constructed responses more than emphasizing the writing of essays.

With that in mind our coach shared a few writing frames from science that can be used in math.  Here are 3 samples!  These samples are simplistic but great for teaching structure of writing short responses!

We incorporate writing in many activities and all of our tests.  Again, our writing prompts are for short responses.  Here are some examples from recent activities:

From our rational function unit, What is the horizontal asymptote of this function? Show this on the graph. What does this value represent in terms of the prom tickets?  Thinking about the cost of the tickets, why does your value for the horizontal asymptote make sense?

From our exponential unit: You have a rich Uncle that gives you $5000 to invest. You have researched two different banks to see which you want to use to help you make the most money. Describe when it would be better to choose MK Federal Credit Union and when it would be better to choose MCB National.

From our square root unit: Does doubling the length of the skid double the speed the driver was going? Justify your response using tables, symbols, and graphs.

From a recent project, one choice included: Read an article about mathematics or a mathematician in the New York Times (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/mathematics/). Create a mini-poster that illustrates the article. Include a “3-Part Source Integration” writing. A “3-Part Source Integration” is a three-sentence statement that includes the title of the text, the author’s name, author information, source material that is either paraphrased or directly quoted, and a brief statement explaining the significance of the paraphrase or quotation.

We have also written responses on Edmodo to Math Munch postings.  Here is a blog post where I share students' thoughts.

I find that these short writing opportunities provide windows into students' thinking.  How do you use short writing prompts?

In the article, "Advanced Math? Write!" the author stresses to start small.  She emphasizes journal writing.  I have not tried journal writing with 150 students.  Even when I had considerably fewer students I found keeping up with responses to journals challenging.  How could I begin journaling with students without feeling overwhelmed?