Finding ways to get students to write about mathematics has played a pivotal role in my development and growth as a math teacher. Mathematical writing challenges students to express their ideas clearly and efficiently; it forces students to stop thinking of mathematics as merely equations and answers; and it opens up a new and unexpected dialogue between math teacher and student.Writing is a valuable skill, a necessary tool of scholarship, and a powerful creative outlet. The more the students write in mathematics the more useful and interesting we all find it to be.
A great way to get students writing in mathematics is a new great activity from Mr. Honner it is the:
One-Page Solutions: have students choose a good math problem they like and write up a solution in one page. Have them narrate their process and explain the choices they make. They can also write about mistakes someone else might make, ore offer an alternate solution if possible, or suggest a new problem that's related but slightly harder.
Create New Questions: Have students choose a math question and write up to three new questions based on the original. Make sure students understand the assignment is to create the question, not answer it. (This is crucrial!) Not being required to answer the question takes the pressure off, and it frees them to be more creative.
I did a snowball activity like this where they drew their own trig diagram where they either solved for the height or the distance from an object. Some of them drew how tall a tree is, how high a kite is, how far away they were from a building. It got the students off math and they could draw, then they answered each others drawing. The link to the full article where the quote and writing came from: http://mrhonner.com/2012/05/16/the-write-angle-for-teaching-math-how-to-get-students-writing-in-math-class/