Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Building a community that matters - Day two of bringing writing into the math classroom

The most valuable learning occurs in classrooms where a sense of community exists. An effective class is more than a collection of individuals spending 55 minutes in the same space at regular intervals. Learning is a social process that works best in a community setting and that through community, learning can grow. (Bickford and Wright)

Community encourages rich learning because of the interactions among many individuals, not limited to the two way exchange of ideas or information that is often the case when students fail to form a community.

A real community exists only when its members interact in a meaningful way that deepens their understanding of each other. Community requires meaningful interaction and deepened understanding, two things that can occur as a result of writing and sharing, particularly informal writing.

Robert Yagelski explains that as we wright, we become connected to that moment and other moments we may be trying to describe and indeed to all those other selves who may somehow figure into our writing, including potential readers.

Scribbles instead of journals:

Stevi Quate and John McDermott add that specific practices that contribute to community building: communities share a common purpose, participate in routines and rituals unique to the group and follow norms of behavior. It is the informal writing and the sharing of the informal writing that facilitates all of these activities.

Create a sense of purpose

My students view writing as a way to be judged and not as a way to learn and express ideas. By shifting the writing from an evaluation to a tool for learning, writing becomes a way to discover. When my students share the writing, the purpose becomes more apparent.

Inquiry rather than research:

Things like what does it mean to you? when have you used it?

When students share their response they quickly learn that they are not the only one.

If I give the students a comic strip about a particular misconception in mathematics, I can ask them to write a letter to the character in the comic strip to explain how to fix the misconception.

When students write on a daily basis, it helps to develop them as writers. Writing like any other sport is an activity that becomes better with practice.

What about having an author's chair where students can sit and share their writing?

What about a walk and write where instead of students writing at their desks, they go in groups maybe around the campus and write.

Provide a prompt to give them something to focus on. This should inspire ideas and not restrict their ideas to limited responses.

Informal writing journals can be called Scribbles. Maybe the shift in terminology will help them with their writing and and sharing.

Provide a prompt to give them something to focus on. This should inspire ideas and not restrict their ideas to limited responses.

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