Writing in math is an excellent way to determine if students’ understand or do not understand the math they are learning about.
Allowing students to explain how they solved a math problem, how they developed a formula to solve a problem, or how they applied a math concept requires critical thinking.
Students must use the minds as they formulate a logical explanation of how they solved a math problem. Because there is always the lingering idea regarding did a student solve a math problem by rote memorization of facts or does the student truly understand the math concept.
When students write how they solved the problem using sentences or a short story, their true understanding and misconceptions become readily apparent. This is why writing in math is a useful strategy for assessing understanding of math concepts.
Using this checklist as overall guidance will help students grasp the fundamentals of how writing in math is different than other subjects.
- Clearly label diagrams, tables, graphs, or other visual representations.
Often the best way to assess students’ prior knowledge and experiences with math is to provide a situation in which they must explain a math concept or math situation. The following are a few examples of writing prompts that can be used to stimulate student thinking:
- Tips I would give a friend to solve this problem are____________, ____________, and ____________.
- Where else could you use this type of problem solving?
- What other strategies could you use to solve this problem?
- The most important part of solving a problem is____________.
- You know several ways to____________(solve an equation, add fractions, etc.) Which method is your favorite? Why?
- Write instructions for a (insert grade level here) grader to follow when (adding fractions, finding percentages, calculating averages, etc.)
- Give two examples of situations in which you have used, seen or can find the concept of ____________. OUTSIDE of this classroom.
- Write a definition in your own words of a ____________.
- Compare and contrast the terms ____________.