Math and English (a lot closer than you think)

Recently this summer I talked to a friend, who is enrolled in a math course. He was talking about the kinds of group work they do in class. This struck me as odd; I know I never did group work when I was taking math classes (though that was many moons ago in this English major’s life). What the professor did was go over a particular kind of problem to explain it. Then he would put the class in groups and let them work through an example problem together. Afterward, he polled the class to see how the different groups did the problems and the students could comment on each others’ work and offer how to better work the problem, or just talk their way through it together.

This was so cool! If you stretch your brain and consider math problems as a kind of sentence writing for math, then these students were doing group writing and revision. In a math class! How cool is that? I’ve never considered that peer revision could be used outside of a writing class certainly not math. WAC and WID are everywhere even when we don’t know it. This professor was having his students collaboratively learn their way through the problems and in the process also made it fun for them because they were in groups and could try to outdo the other groups. Things I’ve always considered as “englishy” things being used to effectively teach a math course. I was shocked and awed.

 

🙂

7 Comments

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7 responses to “Math and English (a lot closer than you think)

  1. English and Math–long-time dance partners. Liked this linking through a friend’s recent experience. WAC–keeps on dancing.

  2. I often feel like a mathematician staring at a blackboard covered in chalky equations when I’m staring at my paper trying to figure out how to make a sentence not sound like a random combination of words as I originally wrote them in a frantic haze of deadline-phobia

  3. “If you stretch your brain and consider math problems as a kind of sentence writing for math, then these students were doing group writing and revision.”

    When I read this I thought, “Ewww.” Then I had to throw out my disdain for math and accept that it can go with English. If I was asked to write my thoughts on math, explain how solve an equation in my own words on paper, I’d be a great mathematician!

  4. It is great that your friends math teacher is engaged in WID. It is inspiring and would be great if all of the other math teachers followed.

  5. This is exciting that math can be taught like that. More of us might like math if we had been taught in such a manner rather than as individual islands in a sea of numbers and equations. While you may feel like you are drowning, the life raft thrown to you by another swimmer can buoy you up and keep you afloat. So math, like English and swimming, is better when using the buddy system. Hmm.

    • “More of us might like math if we had been taught in such a manner rather than as individual islands in a sea of numbers and equations.”

      Yea, that’s similar to how I felt when he was telling me about it. It’s a really forward way of teaching math (in my opinion). Really cool idea!

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