## Writing to learn: Instructional Strategy of the Month

**Writing in Math**

As mentioned, writing techniques shall be used in all courses. Begin with low stakes writing that demonstrates good thinking. See #2 a-d for specific overview for math. Click on FIRST entry (AVIDMARTIN) resources above for additional information about how to implement writing in math classes.

**1. Low Stakes Writing**can serve as prewriting for high stakes writing assignments. In- class brainstorming activities might lead to brief paper proposals which might lead to a formal paper. In short, low stakes writing is not a substitute for high stakes writing, but research seems to indicate that it improves student performance on high stakes writing assignments. Strategies include, but are not limited to:

**Entrance/admit slips**: Entrance slips, taking only a couple of minutes at the beginning of class or completed before class, are ways to focus students. They may be collected and read anonymously as a way to begin class.**Exit slips:**These are done at the end of class and they give teachers a quick way of assessing what students know about a topic. They also give students an opportunity to process new ideas, identify trouble spots, and review.**Written conversations:**Students write for five minutes about a topic to be discussed in class that day. This gives them time to think about a topic before being called on to contribute to the discussion.**Written conversations****II**: Teachers ask students to share their initial ideas with a partner, and then write a collaborative response to the question before moving into a whole-class conversation (classroom talk and collaborative group work).**Written conversations****III**: Teachers use these five-minute writing prompts to model prewriting for students, helping them get started on papers by writing in short increments about related topics.**Self-assessments:**Students briefly comment on a project they are currently working on or are about to turn in: What was the most difficult part of this assignment? Why? What part are you most satisfied with? What will this project show me that you have learned?**Journals and learning logs****:**Probably the best-known of the WTL strategies, journals and learning logs ask students to explore course content in writing. An ongoing collection of writing that can be designed to achieve multiple purposes, journals are often used to summarize newly-learned information, dialogue with peers or teacher about areas of confusion, and generate questions for further investigation. A common use of learning logs in math and science classrooms is to have students explain problem-solving processes in writing.**Double entry journals****:**Like learning logs, double-entry journals are typically used to help students better understand course readings. On one side of the page, students copy or summarize important passages from the text. In an adjacent column, they may explain the significance of the passage, draw connections to other readings or experiences, or discuss how the idea might be applied in real life.**“Blogs,” chats, and online discussion forums****:**students may use web-based learning platforms to post comments to online discussions, brainstorm ideas for group projects, generate and exchange review questions for tests, or provide one another with written feedback on drafts of assignments.

**Writing Across the Curriculum: Mathematics**

**2.**

**Writing in Mathematics**

**a.**The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Communications Standards for grades 9–12 say that students should be able to organize and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication; communicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others, analyze and evaluate the mathematical thinking and strategies of others, and use the language of mathematics.

**b.**

**Write Mathematics style!**

- Mathematics warm up – describing how to solve a problem
- Absent student letter on day’s lesson
- Define words before coming to class
- Reflection on test performance
- Math lab reports
- Group activity summaries
- Writing procedures as step by step process
- Write real world problems

**c.**

**Theory to Practice:**Have students write an explanation of the process for solving a problem, and an analysis of a problem, in full sentences. For example, in a lesson on patterns and linear functions, the student is given a problem and then asked to answer some questions: What are the variable quantities in the problem situation? Which of the two variable quantities depend on each other? Explain. Later in the lesson, students are given this problem in which “you” are working at a custom T-shirt store and are required to calculate the price of the orders. The questions that follow ask you to, “in your own words, clearly identify the problem situation; how you see this problem differing from a previous problem; and questions about variable and constant quantities.

**d. Itty Bitty Book References**

Please use the index in the back of the Itty Bitty to find math-specific writing protocols.

**3. Who does what? (Teacher/Student Responsibilities)**

**Teachers will**

- use writing to engage students in the subject area.
- emphasize the importance of writing to learn as integral to strengthening students ability their thoughts, as well as reflect.
- embed writing to learn in lesson plans and in collaborative work.
- use writing to learn as a formative assessment tool.

- engage in writing to learn activities across the curriculum.

**Students will**

- write in a thoughtful manner, focusing more on content and less on spelling and grammar.
- become familiar with a variety of writing to learn activities and protocols.
- use skills developed in writing to learn activities for all levels of stakes writing.
- develop mathematical thinking skills through writing activities.

****