How Does Literacy Belong In Math Class?

Written by Rona Reid, Instructional Coach
ReLeah Lent’s workshop on Interdisciplinary Literacy, on Sept 29, 2017, focused on "disciplinary tools that deepen student involvement and understanding in all subject areas. As students begin to use literacy the way experts do, they read and write about content, solve problems, ask questions, make decisions, discuss topics, and develop knowledge in a way that truly sticks.”
ReLeah explained that each disciple has its own unique approach to literacy; this post will focus on take-aways for teaching mathematical literacy.
What does literacy look like for Mathematicians? According to ReLeah Lent, “Mathematical literacy involves patterns, relationships and examples of understanding through visuals and abstract representations. Math is a discipline based on developing understanding through the act of solving problems, and the text often utilizes organization, language, and syntax that differ substantially from text in other disciplines.”
When Mathematicians read, they:• use the information they are reading as pieces of a puzzle to be solved• make meaning out of mathematical symbols and abstract ideas• act as investigators looking for patterns and relationships• seek to understand what the problem is asking them to do, rather than reading only for information• ask questions as they read• make notes of misconceptions or confusion• read for accuracy and clear mathematical reasoning• scrutinize ways that math is reported in the media or in real-world applications• apply previously learned mathematical concepts• look for what is missing• think about how vocabulary may be used differently in math contexts
Examples of math mentor texts: Blogs, Math magazine articles, read aloudsTo promote visual literacy in Math: picture books, cartoons, 3 Act math tasks, and info graphics
When Mathematicians write, they:• explain, justify, describe, estimate or analyze• use representations• seek precision• utilize real-world situations• communicate ideas clearly• Draw conclusions
Examples of how students can write in Mathematics:• "When students celebrate Pi Day (March 14th), they write piku instead of haiku. Haiku is written in 5-7-5, but a piku is written 3-1-4.”• Students create a “how to book” for quadratic equations, teaching each other using all five methods. Students then write a reflection on which method they prefer to use when solving, and include disciplinary vocabulary and real-world examples.• When learning about parabolas, ask students to find/bring in examples of the curve in everyday life and then write a justification about why it is/isn’t a parabola.• Create infographics • Write student Mathematics blogs

Collaboration Within Mathematics: "Collaboration in mathematics means that students have opportunities to hear and consider the thinking of their peers as they develop skills necessary for transferring their learning to other mathematical areas."
Prompts to spark math discussion/collaboration:◦ What does the problem say? What does the problem mean? How would the answer be different if _______ in the problem were changed to _______?◦ In what others ways could this problem be solved?◦ How does the approach for solving an open-ended math problem differ from that of solving a closed problem?◦ What patterns do you see in the three problems assigned to your group?◦ How would you create a chart or other visual to demonstrate your thinking about the problem?◦ How would the mathematical understanding needed to solve this problem be used in real-world situations?◦ How is this problem different from or similar to others we’ve solved in class?◦ Work with your group to explain why…◦ Show the rest of the class what this concept looks like, perhaps through a graph, chart, or model.◦ Convince another group that your approach to this problem is best.
Last idea: Math teachers can encourage students to read Math related texts by posting a sign like this on their classroom door highlighting what you just read, what you’re currently reading, and what you want to read:

but recommend Math related texts like:

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