When I was growing up, math was for solving problems and language arts was for writing. There was little integration of the two. However, in the 18 years since I graduated from high school, things have drastically changed. Writing in math is now expected. It’s even included in many of the standards emphasized by our curriculum. Both the standards that we use here in Texas and the Common Core State Standards emphasize communicating mathematical reasoning. However, with that said, it doesn’t make the task easy. Many teachers are unsure of how to get their students writing consistently in math. Get excited! This series is for you!!
During the month of November, I will be sharing some sure-fire ways to get your students communicating mathematically through their writing. I will even give ideas for assessing this writing along the way. This week, I will share a super easy-to-implement strategy. I call it, the Three-Minute Wrap-up.
The Three-Minute Wrap-up is a quick strategy to use at the end of a lesson. Students can record their wrap-up on any type of paper, but this strategy works best in a math notebook, like an interactive notebook.
Here’s how it works:
1. After students have completed their interactive notes for the day, have them turn over the page in their composition notebooks or spirals to a clean back page. (Using the back page is best because it’s attached to the initial learning experience, but feel free to have students write on the next clean page if necessary.)
2. Set a timer for three minutes.
3. Have students write about what they learned in the day’s lesson for three minutes. Use the following sentence starters to help.
- The most important thing I learned today is . . .
- The thing I understood most was . . .
- My favorite part about the lesson today was . . .
- I still want to know more about . . .
- I am still unclear about . . .
- What we did today reminded me about when we learned . . .
- Now I am wondering, . . .
4. After three minutes, if time permits, have a few students share what they wrote with the class and use this opportunity to help students develop their oral communication skills and clarify any questions or wonderings the students may have.
Note: Some students will find it hard to write for three minutes. Encourage them to review their notes from the day and begin writing. Also, write the sentence starters on the board or create a small copy for students to glue into their notebooks for easy reference.
In terms of grading, this task is best as an opportunity for students to express their thoughts and understanding of the lesson objectives. It is best left ungraded.
Easy right? Give it a try this week and let me know how it goes.
Sound Off! How will you use this strategy with your own students?