Q&A #3394

Math and English Composition

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From: Claudia (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Apr 02, 2000 at 22:09:49
Subject: Re: Math and English Composition

I, too, believe that writing is extremely valuable to the mathematics classroom. I have all kinds of things I use. In fact, I have two different kinds of journal writings. I feel that it is important to read what I ask my students to write about and give feedback. One journal has 4 items: 1) What are you doing? 2) Why are you doing this? 3) How are you doing it? and 4) Feelings. When I first started these, I got all types of materials other than mathematics for #1,2 & 3. Things like, "I am doing a stupid assignment for a mathematics teacher who thinks she is an English teacher" was common. Another kind of journal I use is a reaction type. I give a statement and have them write about it. For example: "A picture is worth a thousand words. Relate this idea to graphing" or "The set of Real numbers is like a family. Explain how this family is set up, who are the parents, the grandparents, and the siblings." I mark incorrect spelling and grammar mistakes, but I do not take off points for those errors. I want the students to feel encouraged in their attempts. I usually assign 5-10 points for each journal writing. I generally deduct points if not enough MATHEMATICS content is discussed! 2) Foursomes- Create a problem with 4 options and the directions are which of these does not belong and WHY? For example: (a) 1/2 (b) 6/8 (c) 5/4 (d) 4/5. A student might reply that 5/4 doesn't belong because it is an improper fraction. Another might say 6/8 because it is not reduced to lowest terms. I am amazed at what students come up with that are great math ideas that I hadn't intended when I created the question! 3) Give a partner assignment, where one student writes the steps and the other must write a justification for each step. (i.e. solving a system of equations) 4) Identities or Crises- this one is for the graphing calculator. You get the students to decide if a relationship is an identity (something which yields the same (equal) result) or a crisis (some misunderstanding). For example (x+2)^2 and x^2 + 4. The student graphs the left side and the right side as two separate graphs. If they don't produce the same graph there is a crisis and the student must explain what is wrong and in cases, with strong ability students, I make them change the problem into an identity. This is great for lots of careless mistakes! In a similar way, I ask, how do you know that (x+2)^2 does not equal x^2+4? on a test. The students want to tell me that I made a typo but we know better! 5) Funny words called SNIGLETS- For example: "calculitis" is the feeling one gets when one's calculator dies in the middle of a test! Students can be very creative with these and math jokes! -Claudia, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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