Writing In Mathematics
Sitting in a math department meeting the other day, it was brought to my attention that the Common Core Standards require students to “explain their reasoning” using complete thoughts and sentences, in place of showing the work. As a math teacher for 10 years, I have stressed to my students to keep their explanations short and sweet. I require my students to use models, calculations, pictures, and equations to explain how they got to their solution to a problem. Now, I need to change my requirements to promote lengthier, written explanations? I was not alone in this confused state of mind.
To clarify the standards, we discussed how we could incorporate writing into daily activities. As math teachers, it is important that we provide opportunities to do the following:
We tend to touch on each of the above “reasoning” skills through discussion on a daily basis. Now, we need to push students to record their thoughts on paper, rather than just have a class discussion.
As a department, we researched other ideas to help with this transition from simple, short and sweet explanations to a more complex and thorough explanation requiring higher level thinking. Using the chart below (from Bloom’s taxonomy), we can support other areas of higher level thinking within our current math programs or outside of the programs when we provide supplementary material. Using this chart and the ideas listed above, the math world will collide with the language arts world successfully. We can meet this challenge of the “new standards” and embrace the change it will bring to the math classroom. I also attached the standards for writing that led me to write today’s blog. Happy reading!
Key Ideas and Details
6-8.RT.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of technical texts.6-8.RT.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.6-8.RT.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when performing technical tasks.
Craft and Structure
6-8.RT.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.6-8.RT.5 Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic.6-8.RT.6 Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
6-8.RT.7 Integrate technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).6-8.RT.8 Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.6-8.RT.9 Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.