Mathematical Literacy and Read Alouds

Mathematics is my primary subject focus as an undergraduate students. I have always loved math and now I want to teach it! Before taking this class, I never understood that there was such a thing as “reading in math.” Over the past few weeks I have come to learn that there most definitely is a specific way to read in a mathematics class.

I recently read a blog post about reading in a math class. The blog was titled “Mathematical Literacy: A necessary skill for the 21st century.” You can find this blog at this link: http://blogs.plos.org/scied/2013/02/11/mathematical-literacy-a-necessary-skill-for-the-21st-century/. Being that I want to teach math, I found this blog very helpful. It started out by talking about how some students do not “get” math, how they think they have never been good at math, and how they just don’t like it. One thing I liked that this article mentioned was how that mathematical literacy can refer to being able to do things that are necessary in life such as balancing a checkbook or leaving a tip at a restaurant. It said that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines numerical literacy as:

Quantitative literacy – the knowledge and skills required to apply arithmetic operations, either alone or sequentially, to numbers embedded in printed materials, such as balancing a chequebook, figuring out a tip, completing an order form or determining the amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement.

 

I found this definition every interesting because it talks about how being able to make sense of math and numbers (AKA “reading” math) means that you are able to make sense of the numerical operations and expressions that are printed on something. As mentioned above, I really like how they said that this includes things needed in life, such as balancing a check book, leaving a tip, determining the amount of interest on a loan, etc. 

I found another blog that talked about the same things called “Mathematical Literacy.” You can find this blog here: http://trobsonblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/mathematical-literacy/. This blog talked about the same sort of thing, but it defined mathematical literacy as being able to “understand the different forms that we use to find data, such as charts, and graphs, and interpret symbols commonly used in math, translate words into symbols and symbols into words, and articulate accurately using mathematical language.” I liked this definition a lot because this is basically what you are doing in an every day math classroom; teachers are trying to help students daily make sense of what math problems are asking them to do and they do this through charts, graphs, symbols, words, and other data. If you can understand what it is you are supposed to do or understand, then you are being literate in mathematics. 

The article also mentioned how math teachers need to take strategies used by English or language arts teachers to help students become more mathematically literate. A lot of the same strategies that are used in language arts classrooms can be used in math classrooms when trying to decipher the meaning of something. I thought this was interesting and something that could be very useful for a future classroom. There is no shame in using all the resources available to a teacher, and this includes other teachers! So I really enjoyed this blog.

I also found a read aloud regarding mathematics. It is a student in front of the class showing how to “read” a graph. I liked this read aloud because it is something that I can use in my future classroom. I could have a student come up in front of the class and show what though process they used to make sense of information presented to them. The student in the video talked about the labeling of the graph, the slope, the points on the graph, and what all these things meant in relation to the problem that he was given. This video can be found at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1CT_G7jqhY.

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