Three Benefits of Writing in the Math Classroom and How to Get Started


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If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. —Einstein

Writing can occasionally feel like an overwhelming component of the Daily 3 structure, so it’s important to be purposeful and strategic about how we implement it. For example, writing can be used to enhance and deepen many other aspects of classroom learning, such as math instruction. Maybe you’re just beginning to learn about Math Daily 3, or perhaps you’ve been using the structure for a while now. Regardless of where you are in your Math Daily 3 journey, you can benefit from being purposeful with students’ writing within the math block.

Here are three benefits of having your students write within your math block:

1. Writing requires the learner to reason and problem solve.

Reasoning and problem solving happen to be two of the Standards for Mathematical Practice. When students put their understanding of a math concept into writing, it helps them deepen their understanding and recognize any errors they might have made while solving the problem.

2. Writing helps the learner to construct an argument that justifies their thinking.

This is a third Standard for Mathematical Practice. When students try to explain in writing how they solved a problem, they have to organize their thinking into logical steps. Over time, writing will help students clearly and concisely “construct viable arguments” to support their reasoning for solving a problem in a particular way (

3. Students’ writing about math gives teachers excellent insight.

Having students write about a mathematical concept helps us, as teachers, determine which students have deep-level mastery of a concept and which students have only surface-level understanding.

Writing in the math block can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By being intentional, you can easily begin to incorporate writing into your math block. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Exit Tickets

When you’ve taught your whole-group lesson and students have had the opportunity to practice a new concept, ask them to independently complete a problem or two that align to the concept. Use the results to determine whether each student has grasped the concept, needs a little more support, or needs a reteach of the lesson.

2. Math Journals

There are many different ways to organize these, so check out Allison’s article to help you get started!

3. Open-ended questions

Pose an open-ended math question aligned to the concept (e.g. what are two factors that have a product of 24?). Ask students to respond in writing by articulating their solution and justifying why they believe their solution is accurate.

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