Writing in Math Class

Activities for Creative Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing in math class is much more than solving word problems! Au contraire! Math writing activities offer creative reinforcement of the mathematical concepts you teach everyday.

As explained in this article, writing across the curriculum deepens a student's conceptual understanding of the subject matter at hand, even if the assignment involves two things as seemingly mismatched as fire and ice! Writing activities and percentages! How does the one reinforce the other!

Also, by incorporating multiple intelligence lesson plans as you implement writing in math class, you are presenting the material through all of the ways your kids are "smart". You are differentiating instruction for each of your students in the ways they learn best!

Writing in Math Class: Multiple Intelligence Connections

Before we begin our math writing activities, let's take a look at how these creative writing activities connect to each of the nine multiple intelligences:
  • Verbal-Linguistic: oral presentations of the math collages; writing paragraphs about math concepts; writing a math rap

  • Spatial: finding math-related pictures; illustrating paragraphs

  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: performing a math rap with dance movements; cutting and pasting pictures for math collages

  • Logical-Mathematical: state logical reasons for selecting pictures to represent mathematical concepts or activities

  • Interpersonal: a group performance of a math rap; create math collages with partners

  • Intrapersonal: independently choose pictures for math collages; write paragraphs independently

  • Musical: write and perform a math rap

  • Naturalist: write descriptions of mathematical concepts found in nature

  • Existential: describe a world without math!

Writing in Math Class, Step-by-Step!

The following activities focus on creating collages of mathematical concepts, represented by images of everyday life. Additionally, students write structured paragraphs to describe the importance of math in daily living.

You might decide to adapt these suggestions for more specific concepts, such as geometry. You might create mandalas and then describe the patterns found in nature. Let this lesson plan spark your own creative thinking!

  • Read one of the better quality picture books that illustrate math concepts, such as Eating Fractions by Bruce McMillan (1991) or How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwarz (1985).

  • Discuss where these specific concepts can be found in daily living.

  • Expand the discussion to cover other mathematical concepts and how those concepts are found in all aspects of life. For example, a clock and a microwave oven display time. Recipes use fractions and measurements. Price tags display money with decimals.

  • Have students look through magazines, newspapers, and advertising flyers, locating and cutting out pictures that involve math concepts, numbers, illustrations, or symbols.

  • Students then organize and paste their selected pictures into a collage.

  • Allow students to give informal oral presentations about their collages, explaining why they chose each picture and how it relates to math.

  • Moving into the paragraph activity, explain to students that they will write a structured paragraph about using math in everyday life. See this article for teaching activities for the parts of a paragraph. In fact, you may want to use these two articles together!

  • Have students select mathematical concepts and write structured paragraphs consisting of a topic sentence, three supporting sentences, and a conclusion. Edit paragraphs, rewrite them neatly, and add appropriate illustrations.

Evaluation: check for the following:
  • Does the paragraph have a title?

  • Does the paragraph have a topic sentence, three supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence?

  • Do the supporting sentences discuss the topic sentence?

  • Is there an example for each concept?

  • Are the punctuation, grammar, and spelling correct?

  • Are the sentences complete?

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