A Focus on Reading, Vocabulary and Writing within Math Class.
We know that the disciplines of Reading, Vocabulary and Writing are embedded into all academics. Despite the cries from students of “But this is math class,” attention to these disciplines enhances the learning process in any class largely because of the different parts of the brain that are involved in the each.
Students need to read the core problems each day and make sense of them. Reading and discussing what the problem is asking within a team (Teammates Consult) allows students who may be below grade level readers to gain additional support from their teammates.
Vocabulary support is key for all students, regardless of reading ability as new terms and words used differently in mathematics must be defined and understood. Most of us can recall a time when a student was “stuck” on a math problem not because of his or her mathematical understanding, but because of not knowing the meaning or use of just one word in the problem. Word walls, vocabulary preview (talking about what a new word might mean at the beginning of a lesson), Cornell notes, and various vocabulary review activities can all be great supports.
Writing out solutions to math problems with complete sentences to explain student thinking and reasoning and writing Learning Logs are two components built into the CPM curriculum that can support a focus on writing. Some teachers find success with putting a writing component on assessments in order to impress upon students the importance of writing in mathematics.
Reflect back on how reading, vocabulary, and writing have been a focus for you this school year and plan for one additional support for the coming year. It may not seem like it, but now can actually be a good time to try out a new strategy. Tell your students that you are thinking of doing something different next year so you would like to try it out with them and get their feedback now. You may get some complaining when you add a new expectation this late in the year but if you can tune out the noise you may also get some very helpful feedback from students on what supports their learning of mathematics.