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In this action research study of my classroom of 10th grade geometry students, I investigated how students learn to communicate mathematics in a written form. The purpose of the study is to encourage students to express their mathematical thinking clearly by developing their communication skills.
I discovered that although students struggled with the writing assignments, they were more comfortable with making comments, writing questions and offering suggestions through their journal rather than vocally in class. I have utilized teaching strategies for English Language Learners, but I had never asked the students if these strategies actually improved their learning. I have high expectations, and have not changed that, but I soon learned that I did not want to start the development of students’ written communication skills by having the students write a math solution. I began having my students write after teaching them to take notes and modeling it for them. Through entries in the journals, I learned how taking notes best helped them in their pursuit of mathematical knowledge.
As a result of this research, I plan to use journals more in each of my classes, not just a select class. I also better understand the importance of stressing that students take notes, showing them how to do that, and the reasons notes best help English Language Learners.