Why Should Students Write in Math Class?

Tutita M. Casa, Kyle Evans, Janine M. Firmender and Madelyn W. Colonnese

Abstract

Policy groups such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics have called for teachers to incorporate writing into math instruction. But teachers haven't received guidance on how to do so or even clear answers about why it's a good idea to have students write within math class. The Elementary Mathematical Writing Task Force recently met to clarify reasons why students should write in math class and recommend approaches to incorporating writing. The authors describe four types of mathematical writing (mentioned in the task force's white paper) that engage elementary age students in mathematical reasoning: exploratory writing, informative/explanatory writing, argumentative writing, and mathematically creative writing. They offer suggestions related to key questions elementary teachers are likely to pose, such as what forms mathematical writing can take and whether all students should be encouraged to write in this way.

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