The Benefits of Writing in Math

So, I want to share a slightly embarrassing story.

One inservice, I saw a session listed about writing across different disciplines.  I actually remember saying to a friend, "Awesome, since I teach math, I don't have to go."  I wish I knew then that I know now!

When we require students to write about their ideas, we are helping them clarify their thinking and develop their communication skills.  Writing is an essential tool for creating a deeper understanding of content.  Writing helps us find holes in our understanding.  Have you ever say to write out instructions to someone and wished you could just write "You know what I mean..."?  Well, that just shows how well you don't understand!

We can't think that we are exempt from helping our students understand mathematics.  Our job doesn't end with a lecture or activity, we have to help students understand!  Writing helps process their learning and is a natural extension of the "lesson" part of class.

I was wrong that day in inservice.  However, when we know better, we do better.  I'm convinced that writing has its place in the mathematics classroom.

But when you're already pressed for time and overloaded with too many standards and too much grading, how can you find the time to incorporate writing into YOUR classroom?!  Here are four quick ways to incorporate writing in math, WITHOUT sacrificing your personal time.

How to Incorporate Writing in Math

1 - HAVE STUDENTS WRITE OR ANSWER A QUESTION ABOUT WHAT THEY'VE LEARNED.  This is a quick and easy warmup and could be discussed at the beginning of class.  These prompts would look like: "What did we learn about polynomials?" or "Explain the Vertical Line Test".

2 - HAVE STUDENTS THINK, WRITE, AND SHARE.  Ask a question and then give students time to write a response explaining how to work out a problem. Once they have had enough time, invite one student to display their work and explain it to the class.  This also helps students learn to talk about mathematics.

3 - HAVE STUDENTS MAKE NOTES AS THEY WORK.  While students work problems, they can make notes on the side of the problem.  They may write things like "Don't forget to factor the rational expression first!" and "It's helpful to looks for triangles and vertical angles when finding missing angles." Sometimes just writing one sentence at a time is less daunting for students.

4 - HAVE STUDENTS WRITE A PARAGRAPH AT THE END OF THE UNIT, EXPLAINING THE MAIN IDEA OF THE UNIT.  They can also give examples of real-world type problems that could be solved using the new techniques they have learning.

When you have your students write about math, you are helping them process their learning.  However, creating all the writing prompts and using them all year can seem daunting.  You already have so many things on your plate, that you simply cannot add anymore.

I've already done it for you!  I have created a FULL YEAR of writing prompts for you to use in your math class. 

Each set of writing prompts includes:
  • Over 100 unique writing prompts, including general prompts that can be used at any time in the school year
  • 3 Versions Included - Every writing prompt is given as an exit ticket, an interactive notebook page, and a PDF presentation.  They are so flexible; you can use them in different ways!
  • Printer friendly answer keys

I love using the interactive notebook pages along with my foldables so that students can review what they've learned at the end of a lesson.  However, I also keep the PDF presentation on my desktop in case of a surprise observation or unexpected downtime!

Here's what other people are saying...

"These are a great way to conclude a lesson! I love the use of emojis for students to connect their thoughts as well!"  - Hayley

"My students loved using this as an exit ticket.  It was so much fun to have discussions at the end of the period together as a whole group.  You got to see so much thinking and learning taking place!"   - Jennifer

"My school began a writing initiative outside ELA classrooms.  This was a great resource and support to get my students writing about math!  I love the layout and the engaging prompts.  Will use forever."   - Garrett

If you want to have the content-specific writing prompts already made for you, check out the links below.  These writing prompts last the entire school year!

Click each photo to find out more!