Math Education Concepts

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Reading and Writing in Mathematics

Incorporating reading and writing assignments in the mathematics curriculum has many benefits.  The primary benefit is learning mathematics content more deeply.  Reading and writing in mathematics becomes most beneficial when students are encouraged to think deeply and reason through what they read and write.  The assignments chosen by the teacher must be substantive.  Writing a paper about a mathematician or historical event in mathematics is great, but will not increase the level of understanding the way writing about mathematical concepts will.  Teachers must think critically about activities when incorporating reading and writing into their lessons.

Reading books about mathematical concepts can increase student interest in and understanding of a specific topic.  Instructing students to write about what they read can help assess the students’ understanding of the content.  Encouraging students to compare thoughts and notes about what they read and write can help foster communication about mathematical concepts. 

All educators can agree that reading and writing are very important activities and skills in education.  Reading and writing in mathematics can help students build mathematics communication skills and understand content deeply.  Keep in mind, it is not the act of reading and writing alone, but the skills developed and utilized that increases learning in mathematics.

How do you incorporate reading and writing in your mathematics curriculum?

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The Land of Calculus… written during my youth

This is a reminder of my passion for math even in my youth.  I found this short story, written in English class, while rumbling through my high school records. “The battle was on!  Freeman against Jarvis: the two most prestigious mathematical kingdoms of the nation of Arithmetic.

Jarvis was at an advantageous point: he had Elementary Functions and Trigonometry as allies.  His other allies were at equal standing with Freeman’s allies.  Freeman had a plan.  She would find her way through the lands owned by Jarvis, incognito, starting with Algebra Township and working her way through to Algebra City.  In doing this, she would be closer to Elementary Functions.  She would start a revolt by challenging the skills of the armed forces of the Trigonometric Functions, which would cause a civil war.  She would then reveal the less complex solution to the problems, gaining their praise.  Hence, she would conquer Elementary Functions and move on to Calculus.

Algebra Town was a breeze.  Freeman was undefeated!

Unexpectedly, a little town just below Algebra City was out for revenge.  What would Freeman do?  She had not known or heard about this town in all her years of reign.  She couldn’t give up though, her kingdom depended on her.  She would find a way.  And she did.  Freeman became familiar with the area of Geometry.  She familiarized herself with Proof, the Chief in Command of the armed forces.

It wasn’t as bad as Freeman had anticipated.  She’d conquered Proof and his men, despite the few casualties she’d suffered.  Geometry was hers.

She began as planned.  She gossiped about which was the better branch of the armed forces, Elementary Functions or Trigonometry.  She started near Circle Township and spread throughout Elementary Functions.  She ran into a fork in the road: a face she remembered seeing in Geometry that was a part of Proof’s army.  She attacked him head on.  Surprisingly, she defeated him in one try.

The forces were at battle.  This went on for about one year.  The city was falling.  Freeman would rebuild Elementary Functions and fight her final battle, but first she had to train her armed forces.  She went the entire summer rejuvenating from the previous obstacles she faced.  She was determined she would win!

The day finally arrived.  The final battle began.  Jarvis and Freeman, both with equal skill, fought for several months.  Jarvis was known for his determination to win and nothing less.  Again, Freeman devised a plan.  She had come too far to give up now.

Freeman did her research, studied the battle grounds, reviewed procedures used in former victories, and thought of more strategic plans to use against Jarvis.

While in the midst of battle, Freeman learned of some very disturbing news.  She would have to go back to General Kingdom and honor the new king and queen of Geometry.  How could she be two places at the same time?  She had to attend the Honors Ball, so she assigned the most capable leaders to follow through with the battle and to keep her posted of progress.

It was the last week of the battle of Calculus.  Freeman had returned from the ceremonious events.  She learned that she had received misleading information: she had the impression that the battle was hers to win.  However, they were losing. She would have to go out herself and win the battle with flying colors.

She first defeated Differential Land, but Integral Land was the most difficult of any imaginable battle.  With great skill and intense concentration, Freeman conquered Integral Land and won Calculus!  She freed the slaves, decreased labor, rebuilt lands, and made the Freeman kingdoms proud and dignified.  Freeman overcame her obstacles and conquered Calculus!!!”

Do you have high school memorabilia that reminds you of your passions of today?