How can math educators and literacy educators pool their knowledge and experience on student learning in their field to elevate student achievement? What competencies, processes, strategies, etc. overlap between math and reading? For example, both disciplines require problem solving. What problem solving strategies used in math might help readers and writers, and vice versa? We are interested in hearing the perspectives of math and literacy educators from all over. Please share.

Tags: achievement, areas, arts, content, cross-disciplinary, ela, english, inter-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, language, More…literacies, literacy, math, mathematics, reading, student, writing

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Kudos Steve, I just downloaded the podcast from Darren also. I've been mentoring with his students for a couple of semesters and am always astounded by the work he does. His students may not know any more than some other Calculus students, but they are able to communicate their knowledge better after his class. I had the opportunity to teach some very bright students when I was teaching and I know they knew a lot (they scored very very well on the AP exam), but I'm pretty sure they couldn't express their understandings as well as Darren's students. Anyway, I think Darren exemplifies maximizing personal learning communities in education for students as well as for professional learning among adults.
Funny how things have a way of connecting to each other. I have attended a few of Darren's sessions at the Building Learning Communities (Alan November) conference that last couple of summers (amazing technology/curriculum learning opportunities there!). His work is really inspiring. A few of my math colleagues have implemented the scribe post/blog with some nice results. The power of writing (and also creating visual representations) to refine thinking in any content area is really illuminated by Darren's work. Access his blog at: http://adifference.blogspot.com/

In a previous post, there was a reference to math teachers joking about "math across the curriculum" initiatives to balance out the many "reading" and "writing across the curriculum" movements out there. Seriously, however, what tricks of the trade might math teachers share that would help our students as readers and writers? It seems that most of the buzz is about infusing strategies that have proven successful in literacy into the content areas----how about the opposite direction? What have we learned as teachers of math that could be applied in the language arts classroom?
Hmm, I just realized that we might be talking about two different things.

One of them: Reading/Writing Across the Curriculum because it will help them learn those other topics in the curriculum.

The other: Reading /Writing Across the Curriculum because it will make them better readers and writers.

I think the focus at my school has been on the second of these. So, when we joked about doing math across the curriculum it was sort of like, if we're going to help the other teachers make the kids better at their subjects, why can't they all help us make the students better at our subject, too?

But, I like the first focus better, which I guess is what everybody is talking about in this discussion. Right, how does being a better reader and writer make someone better at math? And, how does being good at math help someone be a better reader and writer?

Those are much harder questions than why and how we support reading and writing in every class in the building.

Incidentally, I had to teach reading for 3 years (in addition to my math classes). I also spent a year teaching English as a Foreign Language in South Korea. I realized that teaching is not teaching. I really didn't like teaching language and reading. I really enjoy reading and writing. I did well in at as a student, and I participate in them a lot as an adult, but teaching them was totally different. So trying to make a connection between the topic that I like teaching the most and that I dislike teaching the most is going to be a fun challenge.
You put this so well Kate!
About three weeks ago I was asked by a university here in Australia to help co-ordinate and teach a course in late 2009 on 'literacy across the curriculum'. Initially I was worried, because I've seen a 'literacy across the curriculum' flop at my school through lack of time and commitment from teachers who couldn't really see the point. But an article by Elizabeth Moje from Michigan University called 'Foregrounding the disciplines ...' changed my thinking and feelings. She talked in the article about teacher resistance, and how it comes about partly as a result of the idea that we're just trying to get all teachers to teach a bit of English. But, she says, when you foreground the disciplines, when you emphasize the role of certain literacies in making better mathematicians, better historians, better scientists etc, the emphasis changes (and the resistance isn't so strong) ... especially when you then start to think from inside the discipline about the specific literacies which are useful to that particular discipline. I feel more enthusiastic, now, about teaching this course. The Adolescent Literacy Toolkit is something I'm currently exploring.
I think you hit the nail on the head, Steve and Kate, as to the most provocative and productive angle of this discussion as stated by Steve..."when you foreground the disciplines, when you emphasize the role of certain literacies in making better mathematicians, better historians, better scientists etc, the emphasis changes (and the resistance isn't so strong) ... especially when you then start to think from inside the discipline about the specific literacies which are useful to that particular discipline." Hopefully, our current bloggers and others will continue to contribute their thoughts and experiences on this.

The address to the Moje article cited in the discussion is here for anyone who wishes to see the full text.
http://www.reading.org/publications/journals/jaal/v52/i2/abstracts/JAAL-52-2-Moje.html

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