Standards-based assessment and Instruction

# Writing in Math

## Writing Math Exemplars

Writing can be a powerful vehicle for empowering learners. As students write about their math, they are encouraged to synthesize their ideas about new mathematical concepts and apply those concepts to problem-solving situations. They demonstrate their learning processes and outcomes as they formulate, organize, internalize and evaluate math concepts. For the teacher, the student's writing provides a valuable assessment tool.

Early in the school year, I give my first graders the Exemplars "Ten Feet Apartment" problem as a diagnostic instrument to determine their ability to use mathematical skills in an authentic way. They are encouraged to use pictures, numbers, and words to show their solutions. This first attempt shows limited understanding of the problem and strategies useful in solving it. The following day, I present the same problem again and model how to solve it. I model for the class how to write about their solution so that I can understand the process used to arrive at it. Thereafter, I spend time each week modeling one or two approaches to the problem before giving it to the children to complete. After the class has worked on it for a reasonable amount of time, we come back together to share solutions they have found and strategies used. Gradually, as they gain experience with problem solving, I alternate the modeling with giving them a problem "cold" to see how their ability to apply strategies independently is progressing.

Questions, such as the following, help guide them as they organize their thoughts:

• What strategies did you try when solving the problem?
• If you tried a strategy that was not helpful, what made you decide to try a different one?
• Explain the steps you used to solve the problem.
• Did you find all the answers?
• How do you know you found all the answers?

The students are expected to write about the process used in their solutions. Including this writing component in problem solving leads students to evaluate their work more critically.

Our teacher-friendly tasks are designed to support both the Common Core and Citywide instructional expectations. GO Math! alignments are also available.
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## Here's What People Are Saying

The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union (SVSU) in Bennington was trying to help its local community gain a better understanding of what students need to demonstrate in order to be successful on their math assessments. One of the most difficult sections of the exam is problem solving. Here, students are not only expected to determine the correct strategy, but also to explain their answers in writing, using math language and representation. For four years SVSU has used Exemplars as a curriculum tool in teaching its students how to solve these types of problems...

Steve Cleveland

Information Technology Coordinator

Exemplars | 271 Poker Hill Road | Underhill, Vermont 05489 | ph: 800-450-4050 | fax: 802-899-4825 | infoREMOVETHISBEFORESENDING@exemplars.com