Today we taught a lesson on literacy in mathematics. The lesson had students completing different types of story problems and then continuing on to practice explaining their work, as well as analyzing student work (below is an example of a student’s work of a problem we did in class). It was fun and different, making it also challenging to know how best to address the topic with students. My goal throughout the lesson was to focus on both my questioning and answering; specifically whether or not I am clear and precise with my answers, explanations, and reasoning. I feel as though the lesson went well, but as always, as I look back there are things I would have liked to say or do differently.

As I was correcting the homework, one of my students brought up a question regarding division. They didn’t understand why when we divide 6(-3+5n)/6, that the 6’s cancel and we are just left with (-3+5n). Their thinking was that we should divide 6 by each individual term. I went on to explain that 6 was a factor of both the numerator and denominator. Although my explanation was decent for not expecting such a question at all, looking back I would definitely have explained this in a more thorough and concrete way.

When we moved onto the lesson, we first had students think-pair-share regarding the student work at hand and whether or not it was correct and if it was incorrect, they needed to find the mistake. The think-pair-share had students more engaged and we therefore had much more participation when we came back together as a class. The students were involved in the question and all were on the same page. I could easily walk around to groups and discuss the problem with them as other groups were discussing. It gave me good insight on where students were at and what ideas they had. Once we decided the student’s work was incorrect and found the error, we had the students write down an explanation they would give and we then analyzed some of them after they were finished. When we used student’s examples, their peers seemed more engaged because they could relate better. I then gave an example of a solid explanation and we critiqued the components that are necessary for the explanation to be “good”. If I were to do this lesson again I would have the students explain their own work because I think their peers would be even more engaged and participate more. Overall for teaching this lesson a first time, I felt it went well and I felt my explanations and question answering were precise. After looking at their homework tomorrow and analyzing it, I’m curious to see what they got out of the lesson and what they’ve improved on.

Here is an article that supports analytical writing throughout content areas.

Thank you for sharing, Katie. I loved the think-write-share strategy you described–a nice way to make sure everyone is “minds on” and let you see what they are thinking. I wonder: what would your “more thorough and concrete way” of explaining why the 6’s “cancel” have included?

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