A First Year Teacher’s Experience Teaching Writing in Mathematics

  • NSF Award #934921
  • Registration Former Noyce Scholar

  • First Name Lori
  • Last Name Twehues

  • Discipline Math
  • Institution University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Horizon Community Middle School, Cherry Creek School District


Writing in mathematics curriculum has been recommended as a means to improve student understanding and to develop students’ ability to defend their reasoning. To develop this skill in 7th grade mathematics students, I worked with my colleagues to develop instruction focused on writing mathematical explanations. Through consultation with the Language Arts teachers, we modified the claim, evidence, reasoning methodology to fit the curriculum.
The course of instruction involved triweekly mini-lessons that focused on specific criteria within a rubric, immediately followed by a small assessment. Line items in the rubric included the claim statement, explanation, mathematical concepts, terminology and clarity. The instruction was directed towards crafting a response that demonstrated proficiency in these areas. It included a discussion of the metric as well as examples of quality and sub quality writing. This instruction was supplemented with approximately one additional practice opportunity within a homework assignment weekly and a further assessment on the biweekly unit tests. The assessment items would be chosen to reflect the unit of mathematics the class was currently studying.

The initial implementation was disappointing. Students were reluctant to write, including students who had demonstrated a capacity to write in other classes. Students? best writing was produced immediately after the delivery of a mini-lesson. As time passed, student writing decreased in length and quality of response. This poster will explore my reflections as a first year teacher attempting to challenge students? preconceived ideas regarding mathematics, and steps I plan to take in my second year of teaching to improve the results.

Posted on July 6, 2017