Opening Meaningful Paragraph:
Whenever rolling out a new protocol in my classroom, or a process that I will use multiple times over the year, I like to start with an introductory example that is easily accessible. This allows me to teach and emphasize the process, without overwhelming the students with content AND process. As the students enter, this is exactly what I am having them engage in: a low content example of an important protocol in my classroom. (This will not need to be done every time that you use the protocol, just the first time.)
The opening PowerPoint slide displays the students’ task. To write a meaningful paragraph using the familiar words: Numerator, Denominator, Decimal, and Percentage. I allow the students 5-6 minutes to accomplish this task.
What makes a good Meaningful Paragraph? Looking at examples:
Due to the fact that we will use this protocol multiple times in our year, I have the students write this opening example in their notes so that they can refer back to it. As we transition into the next stage, critiquing PowerPoint examples, I also have them write their thoughts about each sample meaningful paragraph. (They do not have to write each example in full, just their own initial version.) I have the students rank each meaningful paragraph on my PowerPoint from 1(lowest) to 5 (highest) in the 3 categories:
- Provides context to the definition
- Clearly shows relationships between words
- Has a real-world setting
Finally, I have the students rank their own meaningful paragraphs. Although they may not be perfect, this activity and discussion REALLY helps set clear expectation for future meaningful paragraphs!
*See also: Video Narrative
Now that the students are familiar with the process and what makes a good meaningful paragraph, I set them out on a challenge to write one for concepts that we have recently investigated in class.
ONE ADDITIONAL CONCEPT OF CHOICE
Many students will chose to write their paragraph in the context of our recent study. Although this is certainly alright, I also grant my students the flexibility to choose other avenues of approach. Place a high emphasis on the three important factors, commit to doing this a few times throughout the year, and you will see your students mathematical writing ability really grow! It also makes for a great informal assessment.