Saturday, January 24, 2015

Getting Students to Reason, Justify and Write in Math

I recently wrote a blog post Reflecting on My Journey through Common Core.  This year I have put a lot of thought into getting my students to the next level and not only preparing them for the Common Core way of thinking, but also preparing them for High School, College and Career.

We are now in the 3rd quarter of this school year and it is amazing to see the growth that my students have made this year as mathematicians.  This is the first year that my students are not afraid to learn.

In the past years my students would shut down when they struggle because the math becomes to hard. Over the summer I did a lot of research and thinking.  It was my goal this year to change that.  I blogged throughout the summer about my ideas and how I could get my students to persevere through their struggle in math.  It was my goal this year to change the mindset of my students.

I wrote a motivational letter to my students that they keep as the first page of their Interactive Math Notebook.

The students did a motivational "sticky note" prompt in the 2nd quarter to remind them about perseverance.  :o)

My students are successful this year because I sold them on the idea of learning from the beginning of school.  They are now eager for the product every day. :o)  Don't get me wrong.  It is not easy. As the Math continues to get harder, and they reach that "Struggle", I have to sell them on the product again, and encourage and motivate.  This is a continuous process, that I will continue to do throughout the year.  But because the foundation was set from the beginning it is a much easier struggle to get through. For all of us.  :o)

I am so proud of my students. This is the first year that my Students are not afraid to write in Math. More importantly, my students are not afraid to think.  :o)

This is the first year I have explicitly incorporated the Math Practices into my teaching methodology and refer to them throughout the day. Over the summer I did a lot of reading and research and realized that incorporating these regularly is crucial in helping my students to be successful in Math.

Emphasizing the Math Practices has helped my students understand why I put an emphasis on being precise and justifying their reasoning. Again, the key to this success was selling them on this idea from day one.
Justifying their reasoning is not only done verbally but through writing as well.  I created a Problem Solving Guide for my students' IMN to help them with their Writing about Math.
My students justify their reasoning and write a lot in my math class.  They write in the Solve It! PROVE It!  They write in all of their Team Tasks. All of their Concept Quizzes require them to write justifications.  They write during the Worthwhile Wednesday TASKS.  And they write to justify on their Benchmark Performance Tasks.  :o)

Here are some examples of how my students write in my math class. :o)

Writing to justify their reasoning in Solve It! PROVE It, Collaborative Team Warm-ups:

 Writing to justify their reasoning in Collaborative Team Tasks:

Writing to justify their reasoning on Worthwhile Wednesday Tasks:

And they write to justify their reasoning on Benchmark Performance Tasks:

My students don't only write a lot in my 8th Grade Common Core Math Classes, they also write a lot in my 8th Grade Common Core Math Support Classes.

Writing and Justifying in my (1:1 iPads) Math Support Class
The 8th Grade Common Core Math students are very fortunate this year if they have my 8th Grade Math Support.  My 8th Grade Math Support students actually write more in my Math Support class than they do in my Math 8 class.

I have blogged a lot about how I use iPads in Math, my favorite apps and how I use them in my 1:1 math classes.  We are now in the 3rd quarter and not only are my students not afraid to write in regular Math 8 class, they are not afraid to write in my Math Support class.

In my (1:1 iPads) Math Support class my students do a "Blast from the Past" Math Support daily warm-up on Edmodo.  In this daily warm-up, students solve a problem and justify their reasoning by leaving a typed written response.
The Math Support students also do a daily "Ticket Out the Door" Reflection Response on Edmodo.

In my Math Support class I use Showbie for "Paperless" Tasks.  In my Math Support Class students also justify their reasoning in all my "Paperless" Tasks that I create.
Students also leave a "Comment" after each Assignment in Showbie, summarizing and reflecting on the Assignment.

I love using Socrative for self-paced activities in Math Support. In these self-paced activities I am able to incorporate writing through justifying in the assignment.

Or by adding a "Sticky Note" response into the Socrative Assignment....

Students in Math Support also write in End of the quarter reflections

There is still work to be done to get my students to write better in math and to have better written responses.  But the first step is getting the students comfortable with writing in math.  And I have achieved that goal.  This year I have created an environment where my students are not afraid to write and reason in my Math Classes. :o)

Next year, I hope to build on what I have learned this year. I am excited to see my students take my ideas of incorporating reasoning and writing in math to the next level. :o)

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog about my students and writing in math.... :o)


  1. I've been secretly stalking your blog for awhile. As a fellow math teacher, I struggle with inspiring students to fall in love with and adore math. You are doing a fantastic job and are such an inspiration. We need more math teachers like you!

    To show my appreciation, I have nominated you for a Liebster Award! Check out the link below for the rules. Keep on inspiring students and encouraging them to fall in love with mathematics.

    <3 Laura

    1. Thank You... I am very honored... :o) I look forward to continuing this blogging journey... :o)

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