When you think of a mathematics classroom you are probably thinking about numbers, equations, and other content area vocabulary words and skills. Many may not think about the reading and writing that is also necessary for a mathematics classroom. In order for students to think like a mathematician they also need to read and write like one. In their article, Writing in Math: A Disciplinary Literacy Approach, Willam Brozo and Sarah Crain emphasize the importance of literacy in math, stating that, "problem solving in math begins and ends with literacy (Clearing House, 2018).
Writing in a mathematics classroom can come in many different forms. Students can use graphic organizers to organize their thoughts, they can annotate their notes to explain in more detail, and they can write about word problems. "When students write in the mathematics classroom, it helps them analyze, interpret, and communicate ideas which serve to deepen their understanding of content (Burns 2004). Teachers are able to gain insight into students’ thinking processes and understanding which allows them to make necessary instructional modifications (Adams and Pegg 2012)” ( as cited by Armstrong, Ming, and Helf, 2018).
To help students think about their thinking, graphic organizers are an easy way to organize thoughts. The World Almanac for Kids and The World Almanac for Kids Elementary both offer printable graphic organizers for use in the classroom.
Find additional graphic organizer examples and visual supports in Content Area Literacy in the Mathematics Classroom. This is an example of a graphic organizer specifically modified for use in a mathematics classroom.
Writing About Word Problems
Deconstructing a word problem or any multi-step problem in the mathematics classroom can also help students further analyze what the question is asking and explain their thinking. A writing strategy shared in Writing in Math: A Disciplinary Literacy Approach that can be used for this involves five steps to further break down the mathematics problem:
Another strategy for breaking down word problems is by using the BUCK strategy as seen in this video from Annenberg Learner.
Taking notes in a math classroom is important for remembering the content. To further understand the notes, have students use this Balloon-Help Annotating Strategy from this eBook, Write On! Math: Note Taking Strategies that Increase Understanding and Achievement by Robert Gerver (2018). After copying notes from the teacher, students can add text boxes or sticky notes to further explain the concept, as seen below.
Reading in the mathematics classroom can bring authentic math to the forefront and help students see the connection between mathematical concepts and the world around them.
Scholastic Math Magazines
Scholastic DynaMath Magazine is ideal for students in grades 3-5 and brings real-world math into the classroom. Scholastic Math Magazine is appropriate for students in grades 6-9 and features motivating practice problems and connects current events to math. For each of the direct links provided for these magazines, it will take you to a page similar to what you see below. On the right side, all of the issues and articles are available in full-text by expanding the publication year.
All magazines can be printed or read online and are available in full-text. The online version is available in PDF format or HTML format. The PDF format makes the online copy appear just like the magazine would if it was physically in your hands. The HTML format is what students would use if they wanted to use the read-aloud feature. In the September 2021 issue of Scholastic Math there is a writing and evaluating expressions question in relation to the article, "Making Vaccine Vials: How a New Type of Glass Helps Keep the Covid-19 Vaccine Safe." With this article and many others like it in this issue and others, it brings real-world math with current event topics into the classroom.
More Math Articles and Resources
Explora also provides literacy resources for math. Explora includes full-text articles from thousands of magazines, journals, and newspapers, along with images, videos, primary sources, and eBooks. Lexile reading levels are included to help find grade-level appropriate text. INFOhio licenses Explora for Grades PreK-5, Explora for Grades 6-8, and Explora for Grades 9-12. Each of these provides a "Math" or "Science and Math" category on the landing page. After choosing this category from the landing page, then a specific mathematical concept can be chosen.
After narrowing my search results to "Math" and "Patterns" within Explora for Grades PreK-5, a Patterns are Fun eBook series by Bela Davis is provided in the search results. This series is a fun way to introduce students to patterns. In the Patterns in Sports eBook students will learn about what patterns they can find in sports.
Science Online provides an entire Topic Center on mathematics including articles, videos, tables, and data. This resource is ideal for middle and high school students. Once Science Online is opened, hover over Browse, and click Mathematics from the Topic Centers.
The World Almanac for Kids and The World Almanac for Kids Elementary also provides a math topic center where students can read an overview of each mathematical concept and practice questions to review.
Math Picture Books
BookFlix, from Scholastic and INFOhio, provides PreK-3 grade students a library of paired nonfiction and fiction titles on different topics and themes. Five of these pairs are related to math. An easy way to connect literacy and mathematics is through picture books. "The pictures in the books helped [students] to visualize concepts. They were able to see the geometric and algebraic concepts beyond just shapes and numbers. The pictures made the concepts relatable" (Askins, 2021).
Capstone Interactive eBooks and Highlights Library also offer picture books on math-related topics. The By the Numbers series available in Capstone is a look at American wars focused on a statistical perspective with data, graphs, and infographics. Titles in this series include American Revolution, Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Another title, Presidential Politics By the Numbers also provides a look at elections through the lens of numbers.
Highlights Library offers several math-related eBooks when searching with the keyword "math."
To provide students with mathematical skills practice activities, INFOhio has many options. Educators can share games from World Book Student, practice worksheets from The World Almanac for Kids and Kids Elementary, and homework help in IWonder. Educators can also find thousands of lesson plans, activities, and supplemental resources in Open Space and Educator Tools, INFOhio's instructional materials repository.
Math Learning Games
An engaging way to learn a new concept or to practice an already learned concept is through learning games. World Book Student has more than 160 interactive learning games. These interactive learning games provided by Legendary Learning Games have been curated and added to articles that align with the curricular content within the learning games. Every game included is standards-aligned from the disciplines of math and science. These games are appropriate for students in upper elementary through middle school. For a complete list of the games included, which also include pre and post-game discussion questions go here.
IWonder, a tool powered by INFOhio, provides age-appropriate, librarian-selected websites that support Ohio's Learning Standards. In IWonder there is a category specifically dedicated to providing homework help and practice for mathematics. These sites are ideal for students in grades 4-9. Browse through the category, Do you have a math problem to solve? and find math games, videos, and interactive practice activities from publishers like FunBrain and PBS.
Supplemental Mathematics Instructional Materials
Educator Tools is INFOhio’s instructional materials repository where educators can search by standard to find supplemental instructional materials. There are currently more than 15,000 math instructional materials available.
To search by standard within Educator Tools follow these steps:
In this example below the search was limited to 7th grade (grade level), Mathematics (subject level), and then the 7.RP.3 math standard was added to the search bar. Notice quotation marks are around the standard so the exact phrase would be found. In this example, 48 instructional materials were found that align with that standard. *Note: There may be instances when using the whole standard language will not provide any search results. If this happens, use keywords from the standard instead like “multistep ratio and percent problems” or “percent problems,” etc.
Educators can also favorite items as they browse and find things they like by clicking the heart icon in the bottom left corner of each material. Once they are finished with their session, they click on the heart icon next to the search bar for a list of their favorite materials and can then email a list to themselves or a colleague.
Open Space is INFOhio’s creation and collaboration space for educators. It also includes a collection of Open Education Resources (OER) that educators can curate and share with students. Educators can create an Open Space account and join groups already established or create their own. For example, grade level teams could create a group and curate materials, create materials, and share with students.
Here is the content that relates specifically to math:
All of these resources can be filtered by grade level and standard as well. In this example below, I used the Full Mathematics Collection and filtered the items under Subject Area, Algebra, and Education Level, High School, on the left side.
Using INFOhio's resources can help you not only bring reading and writing activities to your mathematics classroom but also to bring skill-building, engaging activities to make math fun and relatable to the real world. Explore and share these resources with your students. Then share how #INFOhioWorks for you on social media.
INFOhio is always here to support you. If you have questions or specific needs, don't hesitate to reach out to us at support.infohio.org.