“But I teach math.” I hear this refrain often when presenting student-centered learning and response writing at conferences. Still, I maintain that writing about learning is one of the most powerful practices any teacher can employ; it seems like an obvious strategy for English teachers, and I certainly don’t fault math folks for relegating most of the writing to the ELA people.
Still, as we evolve as educators, it’s of paramount importance that we continue to improve our methods. Writing about learning is no longer just for the English class.
Aviva Dunsiger, a longtime Twitter friend and invaluable resource for best practices, has her students talk about learning daily, through conversation and writing (see pictures above and inset). Granted, this is no small task. It takes careful planning, dedication and hard work to engage a large group of students in writing activities and one on one discussion about a concept or skill.
When capturing conversations, mobile tools, like Evernote, can play a critical role in assessment. For math teachers who may seem overwhelmed by this, remember that having students write doesn’t always necessitate written feedback from the teacher. Conversation can easily be recorded with a tablet or Smartphone and shared with a web tool like Evernote or Storify.
The key is the writing. It creates a thought process, which helps students internalize.
Best of all, with this kind of teaching and learning, testing becomes obsolete.