Today’s guest blogger is Mrs. D, and she’s sharing some wonderful and creativeÂ ideas for incorporating more writing into math curriculum. It’s totally possible–but it requires thinking about math differently. đź™‚

Writing across the curriculum has been a movementÂ in education, and my school district is no exception. With the recent changes to Common Core and PARCC testing, I found myself at a loss for how I was going toÂ get my students to write in math class. Math is just numbers and symbols, right?Â I had to convince myself otherwise, as the only writing I had ever experiencedÂ as a student in math class was a written response for how I solved a storyÂ problem.

I attended a conference where a presenter hadÂ quirky prompts for responses to literature. Several of them made me chuckle toÂ myself, picturing student reactions when asked to write about such silly things.Â But then it hit me that I could try something similar in my math classes. I started by listing the verbs needed to spruce upÂ my prompts, such as predict, organize, interview, rank and argue. Using thisÂ list of words, I worked on finding relations to math. At first all I couldÂ think of were prompts for geometry, and I was having a hard time creating promptsÂ for other areas of math. Frustrated, I decided to walk away for a day andÂ return to it fresh â€“ that worked! I pulled out my math standards and started listing conceptsÂ and vocabulary my students have a hard time with. Then I would match up my mathÂ terms with the verb list.

Once I got going, my pencil couldnâ€™t keep up with myÂ thoughts. I started to combine my prompts with activities listed in myÂ conference notes.Â To give you an idea of my process, here is aÂ snapshot of the lists I was looking at:

__Verbs__

Analyze | Apply | ArgueÂ against |

Argue for | Arrange | Blend |

Build | Categorize | Choose |

Classify | Combine | Compare |

Compose | Connect | Construct |

Contrast | Convert | Create |

Decide between | Deduce | Defend |

Describe | Design | Develop |

Devise | Formulate | Identify |

Imagine | Invent | Â List |

Organize | Â Plan | Â Predict |

Present | Â Prove | Â Rank |

Â Recommend | Â Retell | Â Simplify |

Sort | Â Summarize | Â Suppose |

Â Why did | Â Write |

__Math Terms__

Algebraic expressions | Angles | Area |

Decimals | Dependent/independent | Equations |

Exponents | Fractions | Graphing |

Inequalities | Integers | Perimeter |

Probability | Proportions | Ratios |

Statistics | Surface area | Volume |

*Note: This listÂ changed for each grade level.Â This is aÂ generic idea of what was on most of my grade level lists.*

__Activity__Acrostic poem

ArguingÂ for/against

Autobiography

Bumper sticker

Cartoon strip

Categorizing

Comparing/contrasting

Design a flyer

ExplainingÂ to pop culture person/group

Give advice

Compose a catchy jingle

News report

Planning experiments

Ranking real-world connection

RetellingÂ a process from point of view

Six-word summary

Storyboard

Tell the life story

Three facts and a fib

Venn diagram

Would you rather

My goalÂ in creating math prompts was to craft a fun, unusual way for students toÂ demonstrate their knowledge of math vocabulary and to explain math processes. TheyÂ are not prompts that will be on standardized tests. They do, however, makeÂ students use their creativity and critical thinking skills to answer.

Let meÂ give additional explanation of a few items on my activity list.

**Acrostic Poem**â€“ Students choose a word relatedÂ to the given topic. Each line of theÂ poem begins with a letter from the chosen word.**Comparing/Contrasting**â€“ Ask students to do these thingsÂ__individually__. You will be amazed at how they have been trained to compareÂ AND contrast all the time. The first time I asked my students to contrastÂ percents and decimals, over half of my class told me things that were similarÂ between them and not what was different.**Explaining to Pop CultureÂ Person/Group**â€“ IÂ love the creativity flowing from students when asked to explain something toÂ Lady Gaga or LeBron James. They look at you strangely the first time you askÂ them to do this, but itâ€™s amazing the things they come up with. This year myÂ studentâ€™s favorite pop culture prompt has been to â€śExplain the differenceÂ between area and perimeter to Katniss Everdeen.â€ť (Sheâ€™s the main character in*The*Â*Hunger Games*.)**Compose a Catchy Jingle**â€“ This will appeal to your musicalÂ students, but I have also had students rap a jingle, too, instead of sing. You may need to play some popular jinglesÂ they would hear on the radio or TV to get them started on this.**Retelling a Process from Point ofÂ View**â€“ This isÂ one of my personal favorites. Students are asked to retell a process or explainÂ something from the point of view of a related object. For example, â€śRetell howÂ to add fractions from the point of view of the denominator.â€ť Right off the batÂ it tells you if students know their vocabulary and can put themselves in theÂ shoes of the â€śbasement numberâ€ť and explain the process.**Six-Word Summary**â€“ This is exactly what it says: sixÂ words that summarize, which really makes students think. For example a six-wordÂ summary for solving equations could be â€śGet the variable all by itself,â€ť orÂ â€śInverse operations move variable to isolation.â€ť Try one â€“ itâ€™s tricky!**Three Facts and a Fib**â€“ Students write three truths andÂ one lie about a topic. I did this just last week asking students to write threeÂ facts and a fib about triangles for homework. The next day in class theyÂ exchanged papers with a neighbor and had to identify the fib as an openingÂ activity.

Check outÂ more examples of prompts in my Writing in Math Class product in my TPT store thatÂ includes over 100 prompts and organizers for responses. This particular set ofÂ prompts is best for intermediate grades 6-8; however, looking at the previewÂ will give you a good idea of examples you can apply to your own grade level.

### Final Tip

Donâ€™t overwhelm yourself withÂ trying to create a list of prompts for the whole school year. Start off small.Â Create five prompts for the unit you are currently teaching. Use a verb andÂ activity from the lists above to spruce up the prompt. Allow students to drawÂ in math class! Designing a bumper sticker or creating a cartoon strip reachesÂ your artistically motivated students while demonstrating knowledge of a conceptÂ or vocabulary. It will take students a few tries to really get creative on you.Â They are probably under the same clouded stigma I was–that you donâ€™t writeÂ creatively in math class. You will be amazed at their responses and motivationÂ to show you how creative they truly can be!

Anonymous says

Great way to approach writing in math. Thanks!