Writing In Mathematics: An Alternative Form Of Communication For Academically Low-achieving Students
Learning Disabilities Research & Practice
Classroom communication figures prominently in current math reform efforts. In this study, we analyze how one teacher used writing to support communication in a seventh-grade, low-track mathematics class. For one school year, we studied four low-achieving students in the class. Students wrote in journals on a weekly basis. Using classroom observations and interviews with the teacher, we developed profiles of the four students, capturing their participation in class discussions. The profiles highlighted an important similarity among the four students: marginal participation in both small-group and whole-class discussions. However, our analysis of the students' journals identified multiple instances where the students were able to explain their mathematical reasoning, revealing their conceptual understanding, ability to explain, and skill at representing a problem. In this respect, journals potentially facilitate another important form of classroom communication. The promise of writing is that it offers an alternative to the visions of classroom communication that are strictly oral in nature.
Baxter, Juliet A., John Woodward, and Deborah Olson. 2005. "Writing in Mathematics: An Alternative Form of Communication for Academically Low-Achieving Students." Learning Disabilities Research & Practice 20(2): 119-135.