Reading in Mathematics
The Reading Demands of Mathematics Classrooms
In mathematics classrooms, students encounter many different kinds of texts. There are likely to be textbooks or other instructional resources that are used to support student learning of the mathematics content of the grade level or course. There are problem sets or tasks that students are asked to solve during class time or for homework. There is material associated with mathematics assessments that students are asked to complete, usually independently and often under timed conditions, including some of the new assessment material associated with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM).
Take a few minutes to look at the textbook you are currently using, the additional resources you draw on, and any assessments you are using with your students. Try to find examples of these mathematics materials:
- Explanations of mathematics content that include narrative text, mathematical expressions or equations, and representations such as tables, graphs or other images
- Sets of mathematics problems or tasks that students are to engage in and solve
- Lists of mathematics vocabulary that students are expected to know and use as they communicate their mathematical thinking
- Mathematical notation that students are expected to understand and be able to use in their mathematical work
- Samples of student work displaying a range of strategies for solving particular mathematics problems, some correct and some incorrect, for analysis and discussion
Reflect: What are the literacy demands associated with reading and making sense of the range of mathematics materials that students are likely to encounter in your classroom?
What do you think would be challenging for students as they read and try to make sense of this range of mathematics material? What strategies might you use to help students understand and engage in the range of mathematics material they are likely to encounter over the course of the year? In what ways does this mathematics material itself offer support for student sense making? These are all important questions to consider in relation to the literacy demands associated with the discipline of mathematics and what it takes to be successful in this field.