How to Incorporate Writing into Math and Science Classrooms

writing with pen and paperAs a writer, I may be a bit biased when I say that writing is important. (Just a little biased! ) But regardless of how biased I may be, the fact of the matter is writing is everywhere. We’re constantly being inundated with written messages. From billboards to ads on Facebook, from newspapers to blogs, the written word is everywhere. We can’t afford to let the upcoming generation’s writing skills fall by the wayside. Writing allows us to express ourselves in almost unlimited ways. It’s an essential job skill now. Heck, even putting together a resume and cover letter requires writing skills!
One of the ways we can make sure our youth have strong writing skills is to incorporate writing into math and science classrooms. Writing in English? Of course! History? No duh. But math and science? It’s kind of counterintuitive, especially at the K-12 level, but here are 4 simple ways to do it.

  • Stories. Have students write science fiction stories that relate to whatever kind of science unit you are working on. Students can write stories about the solar system, Newton’s laws of physics, chemical reactions, anatomy, and more. Let their minds get creative (within the confines of a few guidelines) and they may come up with some surprising things. Plus, I still remember stories I wrote in the 8th grade. I might be a bit weird, but I’m willing to bet that students will remember their story about Newton’s laws for years to come if they put the effort into it.
  • Journals! I’m a big fan of journals for any subject. A popular teaching technique now is to start class with a “Do Now.” It’s a 5-10 minute assignment students do to get their minds ready to focus on Math or Science or whatever class they are in. Students could use their journals to answer writing prompts during the first 5-10 minutes of class. It doesn’t need to be long, complicated, or daily. Something as simple as “Write everything you know about probability” can inform the teacher and give students some writing practice.
  • Poetry. Poetry is one great, non-traditional way for students to express themselves. One fun assignment could be a haiku on the Pythagorean theorem (or whatever math principle floats your boat). Poems can also easily turn into raps, which can be a fun way for students to share their work with each other.
  • Advice Columns. Students can pretend to be their own advice column specialist. “Dear Dr. Pi” kind of thing. This could be great for studying for tests because students will ask questions they have about the lesson and then try to answer those questions in their own words. Or students could work in pairs and ask each other questions in order to build collaboration.

There are tons more ways to incorporate writing into math and science classrooms. The four listed here are just a start. Teachers get creative. Parents encourage your children to keep a journal or have an advice column. We can all participate in this and improve education for all our children.

Photo Credit: mrsdkrebs on Flickr Commons

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