I captured some ideas about writing in math classes several years ago on a wiki for a class I was taking (Teaching Transactive Writing). It is interesting as I looked through my Google Analytics account today that that wiki continues to be one of the most visited sites that I’ve created. There continue to be almost 105 visitors a month to the site. I haven’t updated it in almost two years, so they aren’t coming for new information.
There is no doubt they come because the topic is a tough one for mathematics teachers. We aren’t trained to teach writing, and I will say that many of us don’t feel comfortable with the process (note my attempts here at writing and writing consistently), but we know that communicating understanding must involve having students write about mathematics.
I also believe that there aren’t a lot of good writing examples available to teachers in middle and high school level mathematics classes:
- If you are a blogger then you know of Darren Kuropatwa‘s classes at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, but what other examples do you find as real integrated routines? I think Darren does some fantastic things and is a great thinker, but is he the only math teacher out there who can pull it off? Maybe, but I think there are some other capable teachers out there.
- Derrick Willard’s class blog
- Jim Homan’s Cathoilic Morality wiki
- Mr. Marti’s precalculus class blog
- Reversearp’s (an alias I believe) precalculus class blog
- Mrs. Everard’s AP Calculus class blog
I am in the process of working with several teachers to develop note taking routines in their classes to allow students to learn how to take notes, but more importantly learn the content more effectively as a result of taking notes. It’s this kind of writing that I think a lot of math teachers are already doing with their students that can have immediate impact and efficacy. It’s, also, a great place to start if someone is interested in doing more writing with their students.
One of the teachers (I will call him Dave because I haven’t asked permission to use his name in my blog yet) has developed a very intentional plan to support his students in the process of writing notes and using those notes to make connections, to expand/extend their thinking, and to very intentionally help the class synthesize the learning from the day.
After Dave gets an opportunity to get his routine in place, I hope to share more examples of what he’s doing and share more about the routine. From looking at the number of people going to a wiki that is limited in scope and old, I think there will definitely be an audience for Dave’s work.
Yes, everyday brings more new bloggers and builds a foundation of what it can look like for those teachers still lurking in the shadows. I hope others will point me toward more blogs to check out!
Photo source by solofotones