My coaching sessions with Michelle, as well as my work on a math newspaper with my inquiry group this year, have been eye opening. In the past, when we have focused on "writing in math" as a vertical team or staff, I always ended up working with kids on explaining their thinking about a particular math problem. Lame. And boring. And lacking real purpose...
Our PD sessions with Michelle inspired our inquiry into what "writing in math" could really look like. We came up with the idea for a math newspaper, which on it's own wasn't what changed the way I thought about writing in math, but definitely provided some content with which to play around with.
My first go at writing feature articles consisted of telling the kids we needed articles about math and setting them off. Can you tell I haven't taught writing in a few years? What they came back with was fine, I suppose. I didn't have a clear picture of what I wanted, so of course my kids writing didn't reflect anything.
Cue Michelle and her PD on writing inquiry- specifically using mentor texts to help guide students and teach them about specific genres of writing. I began gathering math comics (my next newspaper assignment) to use as mentor texts in our mini-inquiry with the end goal of writing our own math comics. Comics are hard to write well (and even harder to actually make funny), but with the help of the mentor comics, my kids came up with some pretty good comics of their own.
As I tackle this month's newspaper assignment, feature articles, I plan to employ this writing inquiry again by gathering mentor texts, analyzing them with kids, and then attempting our own in the style of the mentor texts. Hopefully these will end up more successful than those we wrote just a few months ago.