Writing is one of the parts of language that secondary mathematicians are still developing. For some students, ESL/ELL for example, what they know about mathematics may exceed their ability to communicate it through the written word. For that reason, pictures, diagrams, and the use of manipulatives support the students’ efforts in communicating about their mathematical experiences. Students learn to write by writing. Writing needs to be original thought, not just copying something that someone else wrote. Therefore, it is imperative that opportunities are often provided for students to engage in writing about mathematics. As the teacher, providing an environment that is rich in mathematical language is a priority. Providing students a Mathematician’s’ Notebook, if for nothing else but the development of a Glossary and a Journal offers a place where students can record their thoughts and experiences as it chronicles their growth over time while on their mathematical journey. Students’ writing should include discussions about what they did or how they thought, why they thought or did what they did. Strategy names and correct mathematical language need to be included as appropriate. Students’ writing should make sense and be complete. This will develop over time for secondary mathematicians as they have more opportunities to write about their experiences.
The following four learning station/center ideas can be first discussed in the classroom in a large group or small group setting before rotating out to an independent learning center. Facilitation notes are provided below for each station. The ideas presented are but a start for the many ways in which these activities can be adapted. Most of the masters have been made so they can be easily used in The Mathematician’s Notebook.