Writing in Math class

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by newtothis2006, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. newtothis2006

    newtothis2006 Rookie

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    Aug 12, 2007

    I wondered from any of you Math teachers if you integrate writing? I would like to incorporate writing journal entries in the math warm-up every couple of days. Also, I am thinking about having my students complete short projects in which a 1 page paper might be written. For example, here is an idea I have for the 1st week of school. After students have said what they want to be when they grow up in their “about me” posters, students will complete a project researching how that profession uses Math. They will write a one page paper discussing how their job uses math, how it would affect their job if they didn’t know Math, and why it is important to study and learn Math. Along with the paper, students must present to the class and use a visual aide. Other students will complete an outline of all the jobs presented.

    I think it's important to connect Math to the real world as well as communicate using written expression.

    I am prepared for students to complain and maybe even parents.

    Does anyone else use writing in Math? Any thoughts on this new idea?
     
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  3. teachmemath

    teachmemath Companion

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    Aug 12, 2007

    I think it's a great idea. The kids would like it since it would be one page. It would show the kids the importance of math. I am curious to know if you would get students who will pick something that won't have math or try to find a profession that doesn't use a lot of math.
    When I student taught my cooperating teacher had her students write in their journals weekly (in a composition book) to various questions or topics learned. I really liked that idea.
    You probably would get complaints but so what it's your class.
     
  4. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 12, 2007

    I am going to have students write weekly in their math interactive notebooks for a left side assignment. Writing is important in all subjects.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Wouldn't this be precisely the point? - that there really isn't any line of work in which math isn't useful? And maybe the challenge could include finding unexpected ways in which math would come in handy.
     
  6. TeachUSA

    TeachUSA New Member

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    Aug 12, 2007

    PLEASE don't do this!

    You're right that you're going to have upset students and parents. You are a math teacher and this is math class- just teach math!! There is nothing wrong with that!
    My daughter is entering 9th grade this year and I would have been furious if her math teacher in 7th or 8th grade had given her an assignment such as this. I truly commend your attempt at making math seem important to these kids but they are middle schoolers! This project, especially so early in the year, will only make them not respect you as a math teacher and will do nothing to further their belief that they need anything more than a calculator to get them through life.
    If you are determined then offer this as extra credit later in the year. Unless there is a good reason why the students won't be doing enough writing in English/Language Arts then please leave the research projects and writing to those departments.

    As an aside, my daughter's classes in middle school were only 40 minutes long. Her math teacher barely had enough time to teach all of the required topics for the year. PLEASE PLEASE- from a parent and teacher- rethink this project!

    Good luck,
    Nicole
     
  7. newtothis2006

    newtothis2006 Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2007

    Thanks for all your inputs. If anyone else has an opinion on writing in Math, share your thoughts with me, either way. :confused:
     
  8. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Aug 13, 2007

    I saw the topic and was quite interested. This is definitely a novel idea, and you can do some interactive projects in class where the students can write about what they have discovered. I use a lot of hands-on projects in math from AIMS where the students still focus on the standards, yet do it in a more interesting way. I saw you are special ed. math, and that is what gets the students motivated (when they can make connections to the content they are learning). I teach special ed./extra support math for fourth grade, so I know very much where you are coming from. :) The students respected me greatly and had excellent gains by the end of the school year.

    I would limit the home projects to maybe two really great ones through the school year- maybe the one at the beginning of the school year will work and then maybe an optional one at the end. In tenth grade, I remember researching the Washington Monument and I am still very much excited about how the building of monuments in Washington, D.C. pertained so much to geometry. I also did an architecture project in seventh grade, I believe. Some were completed in class while others were completed outside of class. One neat one I heard during FETC 1 1/2 years ago was about students having digital cameras and going around the school to photograph places where they saw geometry. I believe these were 6th graders, if I am not mistaken. Students made a dictionary of photos of angles they spotted as well as different geometric shapes. They photographed patterns and much more... and it helped them to remember geometrical vocabulary in the long run. That is where I see my LD math kids succeed- when they have fun and can realize that math is everywhere.

    The homework I would give would mainly be math problems- though the projects are great, there's so much to prepare for assessments and reinforce what they've specifically learned standard-wise in class.

    You have such great plans, though! I know you'll do a great job.
     
  9. 2ndTimeArnd

    2ndTimeArnd Companion

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    Aug 14, 2007

    Newtothis2006, my daughter had exactly such a project in 8th grade ... a long project researching something they were interested in (she picked fashion design) and then writing about how it made use of math. I don't remember as a parent being particularly bothered by this.

    From the teacher's point of view re: writing about math, our Everyday Math program encourages kids to explain how they got answers, even in 2nd grade. It's sometimes real tough for those who have a difficult enough time writing as it is, and I do sometimes modify the questions/topics down a bit, but I think it's good for them to get in the habit of integrating writing into math. I think many of the newer math curriculums are doing this ... EM, and Investigations, too. I don't favor it to the exclusion of learning basic math skills, but I think it can't hurt to include writing in all disciplines.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'll add, from my own perspective, that the ability to name the concept that underlies the problem and the ability to defend one's approach to it are extremely important tools across the disciplines: that is, the mathematical mindset has something to contribute to history and literature and the like. And vice versa.
     
  11. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Aug 14, 2007

    Moving in to the Math classroom this year I have mixed feelings about "writing" in the math class.
    First LA. is my weakest area so I don't feel qualified to teach writing, when in the past (Technology class) when I had writing assignments I graded on content only (corrected spelling but did not grade it, had students rewrite poorly worded or poor penmanship papers).

    The way I would use it now is to check for understanding (explaining a concept or process) and vocabulary usage. But wouldn't completing math problems be checking for understanding?


     
  12. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Aug 14, 2007

    The high school district in my town gives a writing grade in all academic subjects in addition to the regular grade. The math teachers in my school regularly have kids write about math. It's also part of our ISAT test now.
     

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