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Literacy in Maths

on May 7, 2012

A conversation on Twitter this morning reminded me that I haven’t yet written about literacy in maths.  I am a firm believer in not doing something for the sake of doing it (ticking the box), although I will concede that sometimes it’s necessary.  I therefore do the following because I find them helpful and because I WANT TO!

1.  Word of the Day.    I choose an arbitrary word (usually dependent on my mood that morning) and write it, along with a definition on the board.  For extra tricky words, I often add an example of usage.  Students then try to use the word appropriately in a sentence at some point in the lesson, and win a sticker or behaviour point.  It is very popular, to the point where Yr 10 in particular will tell me off if I’ve forgotten to change the word!

2.  How-to-guides.   At the end of a topic, I often get students (usually for homework) to write their own how-to guide for that topic.  It should contain top tips, examples, and explanations.  This serves both as a chance for actual writing in maths, but also gives a meaningful homework task that can then be used for revision.

3.  Revision guides.  When I started the revision phase with Yr 12 before their Core 1 exam, I set them a task.  They were each assigned a chapter, and had to write up revision notes for that chapter, in a way that would help everyone.  I then collated and copied their finished notes, and everyone got a revision guide for the whole book.   The first attempt was a little hit-and-miss, so I added my own notes as well.  This is how my ‘Core 1 for Numpties’ guide was born (but more on that in another post, another day…)  It was also quite effective with Yr 10 before their Unit 2 exam.  

(This is by no means a definitive guide to literacy in maths – there are some fantastic resources out there from other people.  This is simply what I’ve found works for me.)

Some previous ‘words of the day’:

Eclectic 
Convoluted
Configuration
Terrestrial
Celestial
Combustible
Profusely
Dense
Infinitesimal
Warrant
Justify
Rationalise
Conflagration
Hirsuite
Effluent
Efficacious
Elude
Antagonistic
Extricate 
Ostentatious
Obtuse
Dexterous
Disenchanted 
Unmitigated 
Vehement
Supposition
Hectic
Productive
Laborious
Comprehensible
Reprehensible 
Locate
Loquacious 
Devious
Sinister
Soporific
Fabricate
Prevaricate
Industrious
Ravenous
Monotonous
Riveting
Assert
Allege
Facile
Impetous
Petulant
Collaboration
Originate
Pleasant
Cohesive
Elusive
Rue
Racuous
Vacuous
Peurile  
Perspicacious
Ruminate

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