# Using Writing to Assess Students' Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills in Mathematics

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**Using Writing to Assess Students Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills in Mathematics**

**Introduction**

This unit is intended to help mathematics educators understand the importance of integrating writing into their curricula. Paul Connelly developed the Writing to Learn Theory by applying Writing Theory to the teaching of mathematics and science concepts (Connelly, 1989). Connelly found that students were able to elaborate on their understandings and make sense of the concepts through the use of writing. Personally, I found the integration of writing is not only beneficial to the students, but also to me. I am able to "see" how the students think by reading their responses to weekly problems posed to them. For me it not only helps me understand each students' individuality, but it also allows me to interpret concept weaknesses and/or misunderstandings. I have developed this unit to persuade fellow mathematics educators to implement writing to support their current pedagogical practices.

__Lesson One__

**Objective:**

Teachers will prove their understanding of the importance of writing in the mathematics curriculum by participating in an online discussion forum discussing how writing can benefit their students and/or themselves.

**Goal:**

Teachers will choose to implement two different types of writing in their curriculum.

Lesson 1: Writing in the Mathematics Classroom

__Lesson Two__

**Objective:**

Teachers will classify students' written work by categorizing writing reflective of metacognitive skills, critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and/or misunderstandings.

**Goal:**

Teachers will be able to identify the strengths and/or weaknesses of the student examples.

Lesson 2: Identifying Student Skills

__Lesson Three__

**Objective:**

Teachers will apply new knowledge and understanding by generating mathematical questions to assess students' metacognitive skills, critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and/or misunderstandings.

**Goal:**

Teachers will create three word problems to be implemented into their curricula.

Lesson 3: Creating Word Problems

__Resources and References__

Connolly, Paul. "Writing and the ecology of learning." In Writing to Learn Mathematics, edited by Paul Connolly and Theresa Vilardi, 1-14. New York: Teachers College Press, 1989.

Huang, J., & Normandia, B. (2009). Students' perceptions on communicating mathematically: A case study of a secondary mathematics classroom. The lntemational Journal of Leaming, 16(5), 1-21.

Ntenza, S. P. (2006). Investigating forms of children's writing in grade 7 mathematics classrooms. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61, 321-345.

Powell, A. B., & Lopez, J. A. (1989). Writing as a vehicle to learn mathematics: A case study. In P. Connolly, & T. Vilardi (Eds.), Writing to Learn Mathematics (pp. 157-177). New York: Teachers College Press.

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