Do you speak Math?May 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 4 Comments
Posted by Donna Clements
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be literate in Math. It started when I was student teaching; many of my students didn’t have the foundational skills that they really should have mastered in grade school. Instead of lamenting “why can’t these kids read?” I was asking “why can’t these kids do simple math problems?” They were frustrated and so was I. How could I teach them algebraic word problems, ratios, proportions or how to find the slope between two points when they could when they couldn’t successfully add/subtract positive and negative numbers?
How am I supposed to get through the 9th grade curriculum when they don’t understand the 6th grade curriculum? I started to understand what I needed to do when I read the book When Kids Can’t Read – What Teachers Can Do by Kylene Beers. In order to be successful in math you have to understand the language. My students needed to be able to read the text which could be any combination of numbers, symbols, diagrams or words. In the article “Teaching Reading in Math and Science” the author states
Teachers need to incorporate reading and learning strategies that help students activate prior content knowledge, master vocabulary, and make sense of unfamiliar text styles.
I find myself using the “Think Aloud” strategy most often. The hardest part is remembering to include all the steps and to expand on the inferences that are so second nature to those of us that have done a “bajillion” math problems. I’m curious what other methods or strategies that other people have had success with.