Writing – in MATH Class!

Revealing Your Students Understanding in Mathematics by Writing


How does writing an answer to a math problem compare to writing an explanation of how the problem was solved? Which is more valuable to a teacher? Writing an explanation reveals students understanding of the process they used to solve the problem. The writing will extend students thinking because it requires students to gather, organize and clarify thoughts, while at the same time using vocabulary to communicate mathematical ideas. It is also a great an opportunity for the teacher to clarify any misconceptions and offer feedback.


Why use writing as an assessment in math class?

  • Writing can evaluate how well the instructional program is supporting learning goals.
  • What have the students learned?
  • Is the reasoning shown by the class strong, adequate or weak?
  • Are students understanding the mathematics presented during class lessons?
  • Do lessons provide opportunities for learning that challenge the more interested and capable students and those that are less capable?
  • Are there noticeable gaps in understanding of information?
  • Learning about individuals understanding and skills.
  • Excellent way to communicate with parents about what children are learning and how they are progressing.

What should I look for in the writing?

  • Look for content understanding
  • Mathematical concepts
  • Use of vocabulary
  • Look for clarity and completeness

How should I respond to the writing?

  • Value the writing by giving specific feedback
    • o   Tips for Giving Feedback:
      • Encourage, Encourage, Encourage!
      • Encourage students to show you their writing as they go and offer feedback to add to or revise. Use this as a time to also address grammatical errors.
      • Encourage students to underline words they think they didn’t spell correctly
      • Allow students to read and give feedback to each other only after they have seen what feedback should look like.

If you’re just starting writing in your math class, this site has tips for starting as well as a few lesson ideas:


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