Q&A #634

Using writing as a tool in a math class

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From: Claudia (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Oct 06, 1998 at 19:59:08
Subject: Re: Using writing as a tool in a math class

There is a multitude of ways of incorporating writing! I am not sure on your
meaning of teaching style. And I forgot to check your grade level but I have
some suggestions:

1) Use writing as journals- I have two kinds
a) I use statements and have the students react. For example, "A Picture is
worth a thousand words, relate this to graphing."
b) The (1) What?  (2) Why?  and (3) How? of what you are doing plus (4)
feelings. I learned when I had students write about a specific math topic
that I had better be prepared for feelings.  The first 3 questions relate to
the math of the session, but the 4th can include opinions. I usually have to
give this assignment in an algebra class when we get to functions!

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

4) Identities of 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!

There are many more ideas but I better give someone else a chance to answer!
 -Claudia, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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