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Why Communication and Writing are Key Mathematics Skills

Student showing their work on the classroom whiteboard.

It’s no surprise that students are required to write in their mathematics exams more and more in school. This was the main point behind implementing common core into the education system, to make students more well-rounded in every aspect of their learning experiences. Writing inside mathematics is often used as a way to ensure students are grasping the whole understanding of a topic.

Writing is a vital component of mathematical education nowadays. It is a method of sharing your thought process when answering questions. Through communication/writing, ideas can turn into objects of reflection, refinement, discussion, and amendment. Students who engage in communicating the math they learn regularly, are able to grasp the knowledge better than those that just read about a topic and move on to the next.

Writing what you just did when studying for a topic enforces what you just learned. Indirectly it’s a second layer to studying that a lot of people don’t do. This second layer is like the ziploc bag holding everything in one place. The physical engagement of writing lets your brain actually think about what you learned. 

For writing or communicating what you just learned, you have to put it into common terms that you will understand when you read your explanation. Think about it, the mathematics language is hundreds of years old. People one generation ago wouldn’t understand some of the slangs or common terms you use. What makes you think you are fully understanding the mathematics terms that were coined literally centuries ago? When communicating mathematical terms, talk about them in informal language. This way, not only will you be understanding them better, but the person reading your explanation (who is from the same decade as you) will understand what you are saying better, because you will share the same forms of informal language. Integrating literacy activities into mathematics classes helps clarify concepts and can make mathematics more meaningful and interesting. 

Using your writing skills in your mathematics work will help you sharpen your writing skills as well. This is a win-win situation. Stronger writing skills bring benefits to your ELA exams.

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