Writing for Understanding

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SWBAT analyze and reflect in writing on improper calculations and logic associated with the probability of event(s).

Big Idea

How can we practice good writing skills while working on mathematics and reasoning? Check out this lesson to see how!

Entry Activity - Role Play

15 minutes

Written Letter

25 minutes

Now that the students have gone through the interview process, which is a blast, it is time for them to respond to what they have participated in.  Although the interview responses are fun, and somewhat silly, it is remarkable just how many people think about probability in this way!  Putting the students in the situation where they are the interviewee, and forced to respond with answers that align to improper thinking, is a really eye opening experience for them.  To take this to the next level, the students will offer written responses to the person whose interview they took notes over.  For the writing prompt, the students are instructed to highlight and illustrate any flaws in the interviewees reasoning as well as provide insight into the more accurate mathematics of the situation in question. 

Although one reason that I am doing this activity is to meet the writing requirement for my district, I have structured it in a way that emphasizes REASONING ABSTRACTLY AND QUANTITATIVELY (MP 2).  Despite having previously focused on this standard in my class, I have not yet emphasized it through writing.  When looking at the math practice standards, it is important to remember to structure a variety of scaffolding experiences to your students.  For example, MP 2 can be addressed through an activity that involves oral communication, collaboration, or another skill – but it is important to continue to think outside of the box and provide the students with the standards through a variety of challenges and presentation tactics.  The same can be said in this activity about MP 3 (constructing arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others).  Even though I have built MP 3 into the culture of my classroom, it has been primarily established through oral communication.  This particular activity stretches the students construct arguments through their writing, which is an important skill for success outside of the classroom.

As another important note, this activity also connects nicely to MP 2 and MP 3 because there is more than one correct way to respond in the writing activity.  Although all three interviewees have mathematically flawed logic, the method and reason by which an individual student can reflect on that logic is up to them.

Self Assessment

5 minutes

To conclude the learning experience, I ask the students to perform a self-assessment of their writing using our district’s rubric.  This is an important time where the students have the opportunity to be sure that their writing is on target.  As the teacher, I work hard to rotate the room and answer any clarifying questions on the rubric.  I routinely type up and offer feedback to our administrative team on ways that the rubric can be improved.  I also like to make sure that the kids realize that our previously enacted “Meaningful Paragraph” activities were important mini-scaffolding events on the way to this slightly larger writing assignment.  We routinely take time to write in my math class!