Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What are the other kids doing? Wednesday Linky - Reading & Writing About Math

Coming to you a little late in the day for our linky, What are the other kids doing?  It's a linky dedicated to sharing independent practice activities that you use with your students that make it possible for you to meet with small guided math groups.  Many teachers call them math centers or workstations--whatever you call them, these activities are designed to engage students in meaningful practice away from the teacher. For details about linking up, click here! We'd love for you to join in the sharing!

Today's topic---reading and writing about math!

We would like to share some things we already do and some plans for the future. :0)

Class Math Books

This summer, Sarah and I participated in a reading/writing professional development workshop. The speaker was fabulous, and we got a lot of great ideas from her. One thing that she discussed was creating class books. Now this is something I have done many, many times throughout my teaching life, but what stuck out was she mentioned writing math books.....WHAT?!?!   How simple, but yet how difficult for me. When I've done class written books before they typically were by month and each book had a theme with a prompt the students wrote about. They also focused on English/Language Arts.

So my thoughts are this could easily be done during small guided math groups (in which each group writes their own books, or parts of a whole class book), or it could be done as a rotation/station.

Now, I am admitting that I have not done this yet, but wanted to put it out there for anyone to help me out with, or brainstorm with me:) so I have no pictures to share.  If anyone out in the wonderful world of teaching would like to share how they have created math class, I would love to hear your ideas and how they worked in your classroom.  I plan to come back and let you know how they worked in mine....once I get it all figured out!

Over the years, I have tried to engage my students in writing about math in different ways.  Here are some questions/prompts that I have used with third and fifth grade during independent work time while working with small guided math groups. I have tried to organize some of the most effective prompts/ideas I have used into categories in list form.

  • Explain what you learned today.
  • How can what you learned today be used in your life outside of school?
  • What "I wonders" do you still have about what you have learned?
  • Create an illustration showing what ______________ means.  Then write a caption to go with your illustration. (various vocabulary terms/concepts)
  • Make a list of the steps you learned today.
  • Describe the attributes of ___________________. (geometry)
  • Describe something you learned from a classmate today.
  • Why is it important to know how to ___________________? (many possibilities)

Problem Solving
  • Explain the strategy you chose.
  • How is this problem like another you have solved?
  • How did you and your partner's strategy differ? (partner problems)
  • What was easy for you? Difficult?
  • Would you choose to solve this problem or a similar one the same way? Explain.
  • How does this problem relate to real-life? 
  • Write a similar problem.  Take this problem and make it your own.
  • What worked well? Did not work well?
**I have also used many of the questions on my problem solving discussion fans as prompts for written reflection.  Check them out here--the download is free!

Vocabulary (insert words/concepts of choice)
  • What is the meaning of _______________?
  • Define _________________.
  • Describe _________________.
  • How are ________________ and _______________ different? Similar?
  • What is ____________________?
  • Illustrate __________________. Then write a caption to accompany your illustration.
  • _____________ is to ______________ as ______________ is to _______________ (analogies--used this with older students)
  • Create and label a model to show the meaning of __________________.
**For more vocabulary ideas--you might be interested in our previous post.  Another freebie is included!

Some additional writing activities that my students have enjoyed--some quick and others done over time.
  • writing math riddles
  • creating math comic strips
  • creating "teaching" mini-books (My fifth graders created mini-books to teach concepts to someone else younger than them.  They had to use language they would understand--could not make any assumptions.  This was a great project--challenging for some.)
  • math PowerPoints to illustrate concepts/key vocabulary (I am sure there are many other formats for creating these today--it was quite a few years ago that my fifth graders did this.)
  • writing math poetry or songs (Multiplication is... {two-word poetry}, Sing a song of ___________. {use familiar tunes as basis}, acrostics, shape poems)

Something I have especially like to use with ALL grade levels is list making.  Here are some examples...
  • Make a list of ways to make 20.
  • How many different things could you buy with $5?
  • Find at least 6 items in the room that are about one foot long.  Write them in a numbered list.
  • How many ways can you show/represent 100?
  • Make a list of real-life times when you need to add.
  • Look around the room.  Make a list of as many object as you see that are arrays. (love to do this one with my second graders--you would be surprised at the number of arrays in your classroom)
  • List all of the math words you know. (This is quite telling!--do at various times throughout the year.  I let my kids use the resources around the room.  They must know what each word means.)
  • Write some examples of how you can use measurement (of length) in your life outside of school.
  • List the skills you need to figure the area of a garden.

Math Picture Books

Using picture books during rotations/independent work time is something I have started doing more of in the past few years.  Most of the texts I use are those that I have used as mentor texts, so students have knowledge of the texts before exploring them during independent work time.  You can click here to see some of the texts I have used.  I have just started adding to this page of our blog, so additional texts and reflection sheets will be include in the future.  One of the texts my students liked most last year was The Big Buck Adventure by  Shelley Gill.  You can read more about how I used the text in a post on our Hoots N' Hollers blog.  This particular text was actually used during guided reading rotations.  You will also be able to download the free reflection sheet!

Please feel free to link up your reading and writing ideas for independent work time.  We love it when you share!  Don't have a blog--please share in a comment!

All the best for the rest or your week!

1 comment:

  1. I love your idea about writing class math books. I'm trying to add more writing into our day. What about having the kids make a "Ways to Make..." book? I teach first grade, but reading your post gave me the idea of having each of my kiddos illustrate a way to make a specific number (ie. 15, 19, etc.) They could draw different items, show the number sentence, etc.