Writing is a skill that I would argue is one of the most important things that students master. Unfortunately, students do not get the practice they need with this skill in order to be successful. As teachers, we know how important it is to integrate content across different subjects. This can be really hard to do in a subject such as math. However, it is not impossible! Here are 5 creative ways you can integrate writing in math.
Get Your Students Writing in Math
1. Use math writing prompts.
Perhaps the simplest way to get students writing in math is by using math writing prompts. You can use these in a center, as an early finisher activity, or whole group.
Math writing prompts are a great way to get your students thinking mathematically and a chance for them to practice using math vocabulary. For example, a math writing prompt could involve explaining a mathematical process, such as addition and subtraction. Students will have to demonstrate their understanding of the process by explaining it in their own words.
Math writing prompts can also be more creative, such as making up a new shape. Students can describe their made-up shape by using vocabulary words like “parallel,” “right angle,” and “polygon.” These types of prompts also allow students to think outside the box, instead of just being restricted to a more subjective topic.
2. Compose story problems.
Word problems are paramount in math instruction these days. Therefore, another great way to get your students writing in math is by allowing them to create their own story problems.
There are many ways you can implement this idea. First, you could give students a number sentence and allow them to create a story based off of that number sentence. You could also start out with a numberless word problem – a strategy used to help students read the whole problem and not just look for numbers.
Students can write their own numberless word problem, and then later, numbers can be added. This can help them focus more on what is happening in their story, as opposed to just thinking about the numbers they were given.
3. Play picture telephone.
Another way to integrate writing in math, while also having some fun, is by playing the game picture telephone. Normally, this is done when someone comes up with a word or phrase, writes it down, then passes their paper to another person. The next person reads the paper, then folds it over and draws a picture, and passes it to the next person. The third person looks at the picture, and writes down what they think it is, folds it over and passes it to the next person. This continues until the last person has gone (alternating drawing and writing), and the final phrase is compared to the original.
This is a great way to get students practicing both drawing AND writing in math. One student would start out by writing a word problem, then the next would draw a picture to illustrate it. Because they want the word problem to stay the same the whole time, students will be focused on accuracy and not rush through reading the problem.
4. Conduct a math interview.
Another fun writing in math activity is a math interview. In a math interview, students will “interview” a number, shape, fraction, etc. They will come up with questions to “ask” their subject, and then create answers for them, ultimately organizing it in a biographical news article.
This activity allows students to be creative, while also reinforcing math vocabulary. Interviewing a number is a great opportunity for place value practice, while students can practice their knowledge of shape attributes by interviewing a polygon.
5. Write a math “About Me” page.
A great way to get to know students is by having them write an “about me” page. Incorporate math by having students leave out any numbers in their biography (age, number of family members, grade, etc.) and replacing them with a math equation instead. Not only does this get students writing, having them create number sentences for their answers produces flexibility with numbers.
This would make a great beginning of the year activity for students to get to know each other. After students finish writing, they can share with other students and figure out each others’ answers. They could even practice writing about each other, too!
Writing in Math Resources
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