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Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction

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Lauren Daly

on 24 July 2014

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Transcript of Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction

Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction
Presentation by Lauren Daly
Authors
Each chapter of this book was written by a different author, and those chapters were gathered into this comprehensive collection of strategies. Joan M. Kennedy is the author that has gathered these chapters, and her chapters serve as the introduction and conclusion of the book.

Chapter 1: Mathematics as Language by Joan M. Kenney
Chapter 2: Reading in the Mathematics Classroom by Diana Metsisto
Chapter 3: Writing the Mathematics Classroom by Cynthia L. Tuttle
Chapter 4: Graphic Representations in the Mathematics Classroom by Loretta Heuer
Chapter 5: Discourse in the Mathematics Classroom by Euthecia Hancewicz
Chapter 5: Creating Mathematic Metis by Joan M. Kenney
Mathematics as Language
Kenney describes learning the language of mathematics as akin to learning a foreign language. It has its own nouns and verbs.

Nouns: numbers, measurements, shapes, spaces, functions, patterns, data, and arrangements.

Verbs: modeling and formulating, transforming and manipulating, inferring, communicating

When these verbs are put together, they function as guidance to solving a problem. On their own, they are processes use to help develop and refine procedure and to help educators assess scholars.

It is important to clarify the differences between the way words are used in mathematics and the way they are use outside of mathematics to prevent confusion.
Reading in the Mathematics Classroom
All too often, teachers interpret the language math problems for scholars rather than guiding them to interpret it themselves.

Traditionally, mathematics does not include instruction on reading and interpretation, which has prevented many scholars from forming this type of literacy.

As in the first chapter, it was stated that mathematical language often introduces confusion to scholars because of the varied meanings of many of the words.

Because of this, it is important to use many of the strategies we generally contain to reading instruction in the mathematics classroom.
Writing in the Mathematics Classroom
Just like writing in other content areas, using writing in math "...allows the page to become a holding place for our thoughts until we can build upon them".

Though all scholars cannot feasibly talk at once, they are all able to write at once, preparing ideas and strategies to share with their peers.

One such strategies is a response log, where scholars solve a problem individually, and then all different responses are consolidated on to one log to be shared with the class for discussion.

Writing in mathematics is a great assessment tool. If scholars can explain their work correctly, you know they have grasped the concept. If they cannot, you can use their writing to pinpoint the areas they need to improve.
Graphic Representation in the Mathematics Classroom
The majority of this chapter presented different scenarios in which scholars misinterpreted graphics, incorrectly drew their own graphics, or were unsure how to use graphics to help them solve a problem. All of these tell us as educators where our scholars are struggling. To try and help scholars understand graphics, Heuer suggests the following:

Use graphic organizers to help scholars make connections and organize their thoughts.
Monitor your own language, paying careful attention to your use of metaphors, idioms, and other possibly 'tricky' language.
Remember that questions, no matter the tone they are asked in, are still questions that can help your scholars progress!
Monitor the prevalence of certain strategies to help with planning.
Just like in literacy, keep those connections coming! Connecting to real life situations and to other mathematical representations helps to solidify information.
Discourse in the Mathematics Classroom
Discourse involves both talking and listening, and is an essential way to share ideas, gain knowledge, and work through problems. According to Hancewicz, there are three different ways to re-format your class for discourse rather than lecture.

Traditional: This approach is teacher led, as the teacher asks the majority of the questions and a scholar answers while others listen actively. This type of discourse is generally pre-planned.
Probing: This approach is also teacher led, however, the questions are not pre-planned as in the traditional approach. The questions asked are more to hear about scholars' thinking rather than to stay on track and move scholars along.
Discourse Rich: This approach is mostly scholar led, with the teacher present to guide the conversation if necessary. In this form of discourse, scholars ask and answer each others' questions to come to an agreement, disagreement, or point.
Creating Mathematical Metis
Metis is like your teaching toolbox, and it is important for everyone to have one, teachers, scholars, and administrators alike.

As we all know, our personal toolbox is not something we can be taught, but rather must be something that we acquire and add to over time.

We have to provide the tools that we want our students to use through modeling and use so that scholars can build their own toolboxes in mathematics and be ready for their futures.
Critique of the Book
The book was well written, though the differing writing styles of the different authors initially caused a little confusion. Some chapters were very good at giving and explaining strategies precisely, while others, particularly the chapter that provided endless scenarios, were redundant and a little overwhelming.

Honestly, there was very little that I did not already know when reading this book. Many of the strategies that we use every day in literacy instruction were simply put to use in mathematics instruction. As a literacy specialist and an elementary school teacher, I do not think this book was extremely helpful. I already apply many literacy, ELL, and SPED strategies into my every day mathematics teaching. That is why I ironically used the Prezi entitled 'Uncharted Territory'.

However, as a coach who could potentially work with middle school math teachers and other content area teachers, this book was very helpful. It pointed out that when teachers only work with one subject, math for instance, they do not necessarily think to include reading and writing strategies in their instruction. Moving forward, I will be sharing this book with my colleagues to help them improve their math instruction.
Other writing strategies in math include scholar created student dictionaries, providing a structured writing guide, having written procedures for scholars to follow, giving scholars checklists, having scholars self evaluate their process and writing, and providing scripts for answers. (See handout for examples)
Let them draw! Just like in writing, sometimes drawing is the best and easiest way for kinesthetic and visual learners to solidify a strategy and process mathematical language.
These strategies include, but are not limited to, the Frayer Model, a Semantic Feature Analysis Grid, SQRQCQ, the use of graphs and tables, and guided reading. (See handout for explanations)
Hancewicz has a few suggestions on how to create a discourse rich learning environment:

Make sure furniture is arranged so that scholars can see each other.
Encourage scholars to speak to the class rather than just the teacher.
Use scholars' own words when recording their ideas.
Ensure that scholars understand that discourse involves both talking and listening!
Move around the classroom, making sure scholars are also directing their speech at their classmates.
Scholars are generally more interested in what other scholars have to say than what you have to say.
Allow scholars to have wait time.
Use concept maps so scholars can record their thinking before they share it.
Reference
Kenney, J. M. (2005). Literacy strategies for improving mathematics instruction. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
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