Write About Math the Way You Talk About Math

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SWBAT use writing to explain their mathematical thinking and reasoning.

Big Idea

Students use this opportunity to write about math showcase what they have learned this year. They explain their thinking and listen to classmates reasoning as they make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

Warm up

5 minutes

Students are asked to brainstorm the problem strategies they have learned about this year.  They can brainstorm in whatever method works best for them.  I encourage students to continue to think for a full 5 minutes.  Then, ask them to place a star next to the strategies they tend to use the most.


5 minutes

Share the strategies students have brainstormed on the board.  Ask students to share a problem solving strategy and also tell why they use this one. By sharing the "why" students are providing scaffolds for other students.  

I direct students attention to the open response data wall in our classroom, and review the 4 foci for scoring a 4.  These foci are:

1. Get the right answer:   I revisit this idea throughout the year to help students understand that the correct answer is their number one priority.  This encourages students to be more precise and conscientious of their own work.

2. Write about math the way you talk about math. I use this language to help students remember that writing about math is another opportunity to share what you know, just like they do in the classroom when they talk to a partner, group, or the class.  They should be clear and use complete thoughts.

3. Answer the question that is actually asked. Many times students spend so much time focusing on their writing that they get on a tangent and answer a question similar to the one that is asked, but not exactly.

4. Use a variety of problem solving strategies and show their work.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

Because the focus of this lesson is writing about math, I want the students to have the right answer before they start writing.  This sets them up for success.

First, I provide students time to try solving the problem on their own, then open the discussion.

This problem has multiple sections a. b. and c.  I read part a. out loud and at the student talk  with a friend about the operation they would choose to solve this problem and why.  I ask students to share, and we agree that it is subtraction.  I write this operation on the board.

Next, I let the students go ahead and read part b and c then solve them together.  I ask students to share their answers only (no strategies) and I write them on the board. 

Students who got an incorrect answer are prompted to collaborate and find their error. 

This guided practice allows students to have support in persevering to solve the problems. 


Time to write

25 minutes

When students have the correct answers.  They go on to complete the writing component of this open response question.

Planning Ahead

10 minutes

While students are writing, take time to read through the exemplars and determine how they were scored.  

4: All parts must be answered correctly.  Students clearly explain their strategy

3: The student answered all parts correctly, but didn't explain how.  Also, the expression is not clearly expressed.  

2: Students answer part A and B correctly, and get part c wrong.  Explanation of part C shows that the student didn't really understand the question.

1: Student shows some basics to the conceptual understanding of patterns.  Application is not clear or accurate. 

Knowing what your expectations are is an essential part of the next step.