USE Writing to IMPROVE Math Problem Solving

Number 2 of 3 research/methodology summaries regarding teaching writing in math class.

Title: Disabilities in Written Expression
Author: Gardner, T.J.
Source: Teaching Children Mathematics, Vol. 18, No. 1, 46-54, 2011
Article Link:

Abstract: Students with disabilities often require different approach to learning math than those used in the general education classroom. Yet, general education teachers are taught to teach the regular mathematics curriculum to students with learning disabilities. This article summarizes the research outlining the cognitive, reasoning, and written expression difficulties that these students experience when attempting to solve math problems. The research cited also evidences that students with learning disabilities often need consistent and explicit instructions that visually depict math problems. The author proposes three math learning strategies that help students demonstrate writing and reasoning skills that reflect their understanding along with their knowledge of math. They include 1) self-regulated writing rubrics, 2) warm-up activities to reduce the stress (and feelings of inability) experienced when writing on demand, 3) and journaling activities. (See examples below)

Type of Study: Review of learning strategies for students with disabilities

Participants/Strategies Included: Rubrics (either instructional or assessment): Students use instructional rubrics to understand assignment expectations/directions and assessment rubrics to evaluate the finished product. Warm-up writing activities (including drawing with annotations) can be used to help students visualize problems and to communicate their thoughts Journals may help students to achieve better comprehension of concepts and expand upon it. Writing about learning in math may include reactions or feelings about math, a record of what is being taught, and notes, explanations, and reflections.

Implications: The author cites research that suggests that: Writing in math classes will help students develop and clarify their thinking processes.

The examples below were extracted from Gardner, 2011, and can found in the article on pages 50 through 54.

Writing Rubrics (Example):


Warm-up Activities (Example):


Journals (Example):


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