Writing in Mathematics
Instructional Practices that Support and Strengthen Mathematical Writing
In the next set of videos, you will see teachers engaging their students in some form of writing that communicates the students' mathematical thinking. While the particular contexts vary and the particular audiences differ, these videos highlight the range of opportunities that are present to support and strengthen the mathematical writing of students.
In all of the videos, you will see that small-group and whole-class discussions are often used to support and strengthen mathematical writing. Students may be given opportunities to talk about their mathematical thinking in small groups before trying to get their mathematical ideas down on paper. A whole-class discussion where ideas are generated and discussed may precede a mathematical writing assignment. There may be times when students move back and forth between discussing their thinking and writing about their thinking. The work of trying to verbalize one’s thinking can be a helpful support for trying to write about one’s thinking.
These videos also provide opportunities to see how feedback serves to strengthen student writing. Some of this feedback may be provided informally, as teachers look over what students are writing and make comments, or when students look over each other’s written work and ask questions. Some of this feedback may be provided more formally, in writing, with time for students to read and reflect on that feedback and make revisions to their written work. In all of these kinds of situations, student writing is being strengthened.
As you watch these videos, consider the instructional strategies you see at play and reflect on which of these you might want to try in your own classrooms. Also consider what the teachers say and what the students say about what it looks like and feels like to write mathematically. Finally, keep in mind that strengthening and supporting student writing in mathematics class is a process that takes place over time. The students you see in these videos may be accustomed to writing on a regular basis, but this may not be what the process looked like at the beginning of this effort.