Reading For Math

Students may not realize it, but reading for math takes a different strategy than reading for English and other subjects. While math textbooks are certainly written with a particular age group in mind, it seems that the magnitude of information and concepts presented per paragraph is greater than other texts causing distraction, confusion, and ultimately, no comprehension. David R. Wetzel, a Suite101 contributor and former math teacher, offers a look at reading strategies that support math education. Wetzel points out that, most often, educators will resort to direct instruction when faced with a question. Because of this, students aren’t forced to analyze the information given and make any decisions on their own. By providing students with an easy answer, the opportunity for strengthening analytical and problem solving skills is not taken advantage of. Wetzel suggests that guided problem solving is the answer. Teachers should ask leading questions like, “what information is available to help solve the problem?” instead of giving answers.

It is also important to note that the abundant use of technology has conditioned student reading habits as well. Most have been trained to read only about every four lines of text and then skim the left side margin for important concepts or words. While you aren’t an English teacher, it is important to remind your students that, in a textbook dense with information, skimming is not helpful to comprehension. Then begin a discussion on reading habits that are effective.

Reading Strategies to Support Teaching Math: Helping Students Learn the Abstract Language of Mathematics

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